Meet The Chatbots That Might Manage Your Money One Day
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Meet The Chatbots That Might Manage Your Money One Day

More proactive and personalized bots could aid your investment decisions in real-time.

By Julia Carpenter
Thu, Apr 8, 2021 3:08pmGrey Clock 2 min

When it comes to banking and finance, chatbots are everywhere. In the future, they’ll be doing more than answering your questions and providing phone numbers, according to people who work in artificial intelligence.

Chatbots will be more proactive, says Zor Gorelov, chief executive of Kasisto, a company creating conversational AI for banking and finance clients. They’ll be able to anticipate individuals’ needs and offer advice before users even ask a question, though there is still a long way to go before many of these features become a reality.

Instead of pointing you to a resource such as a phone line or FAQ page, chatbots could one day be resources themselves, able to offer highly personalised responses to individual questions and scenarios.

Daria Zabój, product marketer at ChatBot, an AI software developer, says chatbots will be able to analyze investment questions, such as whether to invest in gold or bitcoin, in real time. At Chatbot, products like Cleo and the Covid-19 Risk Assessment Chatbot already take questions and process them to offer limited advice, but Ms. Zabój says that tools like this need more years of practice and thousands more conversations to improve their personalized instruction.

Fidelity Investments imagines a world of virtual assistants that will greatly reduce the need for clients to call and speak to a person. Decades from now—or years, depending on how quickly the tech advances—a bot like this could evaluate itself on task completion by better perceiving what an individual wants from an interaction.

Chatbots may become more lifelike by incorporating audio and humanlike forms. As augmented reality grows in popularity, users may want to invite the chatbots into their physical environments. This way, individuals could try out consumer products or ask for advice from a chatbot that answers their questions via voice assistant or computer-designed avatars.

As these chatbot experiments go mainstream, however, Ms. Zabój predicts some users will want companies to ask for their input on what feels too lifelike.

More people have to use chatbots to build better databases of chats and improve the bots, says Szymon Klimczak, chief marketing officer of LiveChat, ChatBot’s parent company. “As of now, all these scenarios are still very basic because the industry is still very young,” he says.

 

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: April 7, 2021



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Is the Stock Market Near Its Top?

Don’t let the hum of the bull tune out signs warning that a bear may be lurking.

By ANDY KESSLER
Mon, Jul 15, 2024 3 min

The third season of the terrific show “The Bear” blends family dysfunction with the ups and downs of high-end restaurants. With markets chasing new highs—get out those Dow 40000 hats—this column is about a different kind of dysfunctional beast. Is the market bear dead, or is it about to sneak up on us?

A U.S. equity strategist told me the story of a Japanese portfolio manager who sat in his office in July 1987 asking for stock ideas. The strategist’s model was based on a proprietary survey of investor sentiment, though it never really worked. Nonetheless, he read off a list of dozens of stocks. The portfolio manager then asked if he would kindly put in an order for 20,000 shares of each. The Dow Jones Industrial Average peaked at 2722 in late August and crashed 22.6% on Oct. 19.

A friend was a portfolio manager of a massive growth-stock fund in 1999. He told me he bought shares of Yahoo, Cisco, F5 Networks, Infosys and others every day because money flowed into his fund every day. The tech-heavy Nasdaq index peaked on March 10, 2000. As money began to flow out, he had to sell every day. By year’s end, Nasdaq had fallen by more than half.

I met Cathie Wood as she was filing papers for her “disruptive innovation” funds—to “change the way the world works.” Her ARK Innovation exchange-traded fund, ARKK, launched in October 2014 and charges 0.75% management fees. In 2020 it was up 153% as stimulus money flew in, driving more buying. ARKK peaked in February 2021 with $28 billion in assets. Since then, its net asset value is down 70%, even amid a roaring bull market, especially in tech. Morningstar recently calculated that Ms. Wood’s Ark Invest funds have destroyed more than $14 billion in wealth. One of my favorite Wall Street sayings is, “Don’t mistake a bull market for brains.”

In almost every bull run, stock momentum lures in investors at the worst moment, I call them momos, ensuring they get burned when the buying stops. Since 2009, excepting a few brief sell-offs, cash has been trash. That made some sense during the era of zero interest rates. But now with higher inflation and short rates above 5%? Confusing. Maybe investors are already anticipating another Donald Trump antiregulation pro-growth presidency, forgetting that he is married to a growth-killing pro-tariff agenda. Is the bear dead, or does it have a long fuse?

Predicting stock markets is a fool’s errand. My Series 7 test for General Securities Representative Qualification lapsed long ago, so you won’t get investment advice from me. But there are warning signs.

Have we run out of buyers? Sometimes there are triggers that scare them away: oil shocks, viruses, bank failures. But sometimes they simply collapse from exhaustion. More than 40% of households reportedly own stocks—a higher percentage than in 2000. It was 20% in 2010. Some market indicators also point to asset managers being fully invested. Who’s left to buy?

Market breadth is concerning. The 1973 market peak was driven by stretched valuations of the Nifty Fifty, which included IBM , Coca-Cola and GE but also Polaroid and Xerox . Fifty? Now it’s the Magnificent Seven: Alphabet , Amazon , Apple , Meta , Microsoft , Nvidia and Tesla . Seven? Artificial-intelligence hype, way ahead of even the rosiest of realities, drove Nvidia to make up almost a third of the S&P 500’s first half gains. Another quarter came from Amazon, Meta, Microsoft and Eli Lilly . Maybe fat bulls need Mounjaro.

Stock values feel divorced from reality. The so-called Warren Buffett indicator—the ratio between total stock-market value and gross domestic product—was 138% in March 2000. It’s now 196%. Certainly not a buy signal. And Bitcoin, my go-to bubblicious bat signal, is down about 20% since March. A dead canary?

“Don’t worry, be happy,” the bulls sing. Inflation is slain, and the Fed will cut rates. But investors won’t like the reason for those cuts. We’re already seeing earnings disasters—Nike, Walgreens , Lululemon , Delta and Wells Fargo . If the economy slows, earnings glitches and stock implosions become contagious. Plus, banks’ exposure to commercial real estate is scary, with buildings being dumped at huge haircuts almost weekly. This is now infecting rental buildings, and there are signs of a private housing glut. Inventory in Denver is up nearly 37%. Sure, markets climb a “wall of worry,” and bull markets tend to last longer than people expect, but sometimes the nightmares are real. Recessions are like honey to bears.

Even writing about the bear is bullish. Bull runs end when everyone is a believer. Still, another favorite saying of mine is, “No one’s ever lost money taking a profit.” Someday, cash will be king again. I prefer to buy stocks when everyone hates them.

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