According to reports, more than 90% of all data in the world has been created in the last 2.5 years and this will continue to exponentially increase. While there is an abundance of data available, efficiently synthesizing it and using it effectively still remains a challenge. Enter ForwardLane, the AI and NLP platform that serves the wealth management, asset management and insurance industries to yield smarter data. Noted as a top 7 financial services startup by Medici, ForwardLane uses AI and NLP to analyze financial and client data, yielding actionable insights and information. As the influx of data continues, personalization is as important as ever.
AlleyWatch chatted with CEO and founder Nathan Stevenson about the startup, its origin, and its future plans.
Tell us about the product or service.
FowardLane’s next generation, artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) platform scales and aggregates data that takes wealth managers, asset managers, and insurance providers hours to decipher.
In milliseconds, the system reads and understands client, market, and business data linking it together, it then applies human business rules to scan through hundreds of changing data points, and then delivers relevant, personalized insights and curated content for a dynamic and engaging customer experience.
How is it different?
The AI platform is designed by financial industry experts, quants and PHDs to better synthesize financial content with NLP and deep learning than general AI solutions. By focusing on data that is often overlooked or misclassified such as tickers, instrument names, strategies, investment goals and many other financial entity types, we’re able to provide “4K NLP for financial data” as an input into our engine.
Its robust platform includes three new configurable APIs; the first, Personalized Insights, curates personalized stories of “what to say”, the second – Client Prioritization API helps answer the question of “who to talk to” by providing a prioritized list of clients to call, with the reasons for out reach.
The company’s third API, Expert Conversation, is a natural language interface with data aggregation, curation and linking capabilities. It is focused on question answering for market, ETF, mutual fund and equities research. It’s a smarter, faster way to get answers to questions that are buried in research reports or sits behind many screens. It’s a framework that can be leveraged by financial institutions to empower their sales and advisory staff, or plug into client portals to enable smarter self-service.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
ForwardLane is addressing the need for personalization in the global financial services industry. Specifically targeting wealth management’s $166 trillion in global AUM, asset management’s $65 trillion, and developed insurance markets of $5 trillion.
What is the business model?
Our business model is to drive sales and productivity gains for sales and distribution professionals with personalized insights. We partner with Tier 1and Tier 2 firms and deploy the solution in less than 90 days.
We also understand the business needs and support our clients in delivering their visionary customer experiences.
We enhance sales and advisory practices by reducing to milliseconds time taken to prepare for meetings, and provide personalized advice.
We offer stand alone APIs, or APIs in conjunction with UI, for minimum monthly fees and scale up depending on data sources and usage. We are cloud-based but can also deploy on-premises.
Will AI solutions like yours that is now assisting financial advisors eventually be able to replace these advisors?
Our AI solutions are designed to work with advisors, rather than replace them. The data created in 2017 alone was more than the total volume of data within the last 5,000 years. We’ve reached ‘peak human’ capacity. The system is designed to derive insights from data to make advisors more productive and efficient. In some use cases, our clients are deploying our APIs in a retail, direct-to-customer model where advisors are not currently utilized.
We have seen that there are many financial services firms that would like to bring a dynamic personalized experience to their self-directed brokerage or trading platforms, to wealth management portals helping provide a richer customer experience and to mutual fund platforms that want to entice retail consumers with relevant, personalized content.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
In the next six months, we will more than triple our current active client base, reduce our sales cycles and work on a standardized version of our APIs.
We have a robust pipeline, across verticals and are looking to scale sales and development resources to meet current customer demand.
The standardization of the APIs will help us further develop verticalized offerings for wealth management, direct-to-client Wealth, asset management, insurance and commercial banking.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Premium positioning for your product and company and high standards is expensive, time-consuming and stressful to pursue. If you dial down by 30% your ambitions and goals across the board (product, funding, market/fit, client list) then you’ll have a much, much easier life as an entrepreneur. Even then expect a rollercoaster of highs and lows, and highs and more lows.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Personally, I’d like to meet a smart AI/fintech investor that invests in late seed stage companies, that was formerly an entrepreneur and thinks big.
I’d also like to meet deep AI investors that are only focused on either deep general AI or niche, verticalized applied AI.
Know anyone like that?
Why did you launch in New York?
New York is the most inspiring city in the world, dynamic, exciting and for fintech it is ideally located. It’s also real, cosmopolitan and probably the only place where everyday you wake up, a whole new fortune, direction or path can open up for you. I think behind the edgy, fast-paced, cool and tough exterior of many in fintech, there is a genuine authenticity and desire to build and support startups and entrepreneurs, create jobs in New York – and shoot for the stars.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
There are so many! One favourite with best friends is Da Umberto on 16th and 6th. It’s old school Italian done right – the pasta, meat dishes and wine is superb. I also love Taraluccio e Vino on 18th for business and investor lunches – and every now and then a Friday team lunch.