How developed are your risk muscles?
Anyone is free to take risk. But just like how we need to build muscles for sports so that we maximize the benefits while protecting ourselves, we need risk-taking muscles too. Risk tends to get a bad rep because we focus on the negative outcome. It is like denouncing sports for the injuries it causes. In both risk and sports, we need to appreciate that the (to-be) risk taker is a protagonist. The protagonist plays an active role, not a passive one.
Why do we need to build muscles for risk-taking?
Our contradictions make us human. Innately, we are both risk-taking and risk-averse.
Our risk-taking tendencies have evolutionary origins. Since the beginning, our ancestors have been flexing their risk-taking muscles for survival. Primitive humans needed to venture out of the safety of their homes to hunt for food and/or socialise. With time, our ability to handle a myriad of decisions of risk grows more sophisticated as we continuously build our risk-taking muscle. Physiologically, risk is also associated with the pleasure-arousal domain of our brains too, which explains why we are inevitably drawn to risk .
Ironically, humans are also wired to be risk averse. In behavioural psychology, Prospect Theory describes how humans feel the pain of loss more acutely than the satisfaction of gain . Thus we humans prefer to avoid risk so that we do not need to feel the pains of the loss.
Avoiding risks completely is however impractical. Risk taking isn’t just necessary for survival, it’s key to fulfilling our aspirations. For example, wealth accumulation enables us to reach our financial goals without which, we are susceptible to inflationary risk. Ultimately, the riskiest move is to not take any risks at all.
Paradoxically, our risk aversion is attributed to the same reason for our risk-taking tendencies: survival. Rather than being puppets of our survival mechanisms, we have the option to deliberate and strategize – the ability made possible with risk-taking muscles.
How to build those muscles for financial risks?
Well-developed risk-taking muscles enable us to assess if a financial risk is worth taking, prevent knee-jerk reactions and work out a strategy that prevents an uncontrollable downward spiral.
- Establish the floor
To build those muscles, we must have clarity over our risk limits. A direct and simple way is to establish our individual ‘floor’. For example, Mary’s floor would be the emergency and education funds put aside for her family and children respectively. Tom’s floor could be a percentage of his wealth that he is clear he cannot lose under all circumstances.
- Forecast your financial future
Having established the personal floor, we should have a reliable forecast of the uncontrollable risk events such as death, critical illness and market crashes, and their impact on our wealth (and floor). At 360F, our scenario simulation feature gives customers this transparency by stress testing their status quo financial state through some 10,000 scenarios that represent all conceivable personal and market risks specific to the individual’s profile. The output is a financial satisfaction score, also known as the HappiU, on a scale of 1 to 100. The lower the score, the more financially stressed the individual is expected to be in the future. The higher the score, the more likely the individual can fulfil his or her financial aspirations and yet able to maintain spending power or leave a legacy even during crises.
3. Reduce uncertainties
Now that we have a clear view of not only our limits but also our likely hurdles, we can weed out the counterproductive risks by using insurance to transfer the risks away. While eliminating the effects of bad risks, we concurrently explore the healthy risks we need to take to achieve the financial aspirations. Traditionally, this requires time, deep advisory expertise and the luck of finding the right advisor.
To accelerate the building of the risk-taking muscles safely, we tap on intelligent technology. 360F’s solutioning engine which auto-customize solutioning suggestions that hedge the unwanted risks and introduce healthy risks as best reasonably possible. Such solutions are virtual bundles of insurance and investment plans, synergized together to give the individual the maximum improvement possible for his or her HappiU (financial satisfaction) score. The HappiU score reduces the uncertainty of taking risks as it factors in all possible outcomes as realistically as possible.
4. Start small but progress with accountability
Starting the muscle building with small but incremental steps increases the chances of success. However this progression must be tracked and built with signals to steer us in the right direction. Again, technology comes into play. For example, 360F’s HappiU scoring system comes with insights-generation capability so that customers get self-explanatory pointers that they can apply immediately to improve their score.
Risk-taking in teamwork
Lastly, risk-taking is not a lonely activity. Our ancestors foraged for food as a team in the past as they stood a better chance with larger numbers and herein lies the importance of a financial advisor. Having a third-party to unmask the blind spots and hear the unsaid helps us to take better calculated risks and hedge uncontrollable risks. This enables one to build stronger risk-taking muscles and ultimately, fulfil their aspirations with a peace of mind.
Drop us an eMail here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Consistent, High-Quality and Self-Verifiable Financial Advice for Everyone, Anywhere and Anytime
The effects of COVID-19 global pandemic can be seen in the change of finances for many. Prolonged loss of income, heightened awareness of the need for health insurance and begrudged acceptance of the changed landscape of life milestones such as child’s tertiary education, relocation and retirement – the pandemic has indirectly created strong interest in financial markets and financial advice, especially among the layman.
But interest alone is far from enough. The financial advisory industry is unfortunately a very noisy one. Despite the same customer profile and product portfolio, a disconcerting range of variance is easily observed among the financial advice given by different financial advisors.
Nobel Prize-winning behavioural psychologist Daniel Kahneman explains noise as unwanted variability. With high levels of noise, something as random as the last-read news, personality or weather could affect professional judgement which should have been consistent.
Where noise is not controlled, financial advisors are not interchangeable. Financial advisory firms cannot scale their business. Customers cannot rely on a single opinion.
The layman customers have the excuse of not knowing any better. Financial advice, up to recently, cannot be self-verified easily. In fact, it is not even accessible freely.
To clear any doubts, financial advice does not simply constitute identifying financial needs and gaps.
High-quality financial advice takes holistic consideration of all the financial objectives and profile of the customer in tandem.
This means customers should receive solutions that are optimised, enabling them to best fulfil their prioritized financial objectives in view of their profile such as risk tolerance, constrained budget, and time horizon.
But if financial advice cannot be self-verified, how can customers ever know if the advice offered to them is optimal, motivated as they are?
We can reduce noise
Market-leading advisory firms and product carriers are starting to acknowledge the need to reduce the unwanted variability in financial advice and that customers must play the collaborative role in the advisory relationship.
Over the last fourteen months in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, 360F has seen a multi-fold surge in the institutional take-up of its flagship advice solutioning optimiser, 360-ProVestment®, and its sister module, 360-HappiU®, a financial scoring system that helps anyone forecast their financial future and verify the impact of any given advice.
Built on the backbone of Nobel Prize-winning research in behavioural economics, namely Prospect Theory, 360-ProVestment® processes all of the customer’s insurance and investment priorities and profile including loss aversion and constraints within a mathematical function that ultimately quantifies the customer’s self-defined financial satisfaction.
The solutioning optimiser then stress-tests possibilities before generating solutioning options based on the financial advisor’s accessible product universe, i.e., it customises virtual bundles of insurance and/or investment products that yield the highest financial satisfaction for the customer.
The sister module, 360-HappiU®, standalone or add-on, forecasts the customer’s financial future with respect to the ability to fulfil the financial priorities even if personal crises and stock market risks should occur.
A self-explanatory scoring system, the 360-HappiU® spearheads buyer empowerment in financial advisory as it provides a simple and reliable reference for customers to gauge their financial satisfaction, on the basis of their personal values, priorities and desired lifestyles, throughout their lifetime.
Both modules engage stochastic simulation where all the conceivable risks specific to the customer’s profile are simulated across the planning horizon. Such robust stress-testing minimises noise, and therefore room for subjective judgement in financial advice.
Notably the demand for 360F modules also comes from carriers who have huge but legacy-ridden advisory sales force, giving rise to use cases ranging from pure engagement via consumer-facing apps to hybrid advisory which empowers prospects to custom-generate their potential solutioning options and decide for themselves when they want to engage an advisor.
360F releases major software upgrade
Noting the trend for personalised but consistent and self-verifiable financial advice is here to stay, 360F has released a major software upgrade that will enable insurers, banks and advisory firms to launch in as quickly as ninety days and enjoy a substantial increase in their advisory effectiveness.
New features include low-code configurability, HappiU score insights generator to increase customer engagement and pricing sheets transformation to enable product carriers break free from legacy architectures and give their captive and third-party digital distributors the ability to automate real-time solutioning options.
Virtual advice in the near future
We foresee the rise of digital advice. Not to be confused with advice from robo advisors, digital advice retains personal service from the advisors but uses technologies such as 360-ProVestment® and 360-HappiU® to build advisor capabilities with scale economics.
Any customer should be able to receive high-quality advice and enjoy top-class customer experience, anytime and anywhere.
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InsurTech 360F Makes Financial Advisory More Intuitive And Scalable
From intuitive design features that empower customers to understand and validate their options to high configurability that enables financial institutions to launch in as quickly as 90 days, 360F’s new release optimizes advisor capabilities with scale economics and lays a strong foundation for trust between the advisor and customer.
Making informed decision becomes very easy with the 360-HappiU® module, which forecasts the customer’s financial future. Unlike the conventional financial ratios, the 360-HappiU® factors in the individual values, beliefs and lifestyles to establish the customer’s financial satisfaction criteria, against which the module simulates to yield the HappiU score.
“Motivated to improve their HappiU score, customers become more willing than ever to seek suggestions. We have been keeping up their momentum by showing them their multi-needs solutioning options, all customized in real-time. We now boost engagement even more with insights-generation capability so that customers get self-explanatory pointers that they can apply immediately to improve their score,” said Mr. Michael Gerber, Chief Executive Officer. “Enabling customers to take an educated role in their financial well-being unlocks the full potential of advisors.”
The new release also enables financial institutions to enjoy accelerated time-to-market and simultaneously, higher quality of the business portfolio with:
- High configurability, making it easy and fast for product carriers to onboard new products and reflect regulatory changes for automated recommendation
- Pricing sheets transformation enabling product carriers to break free from legacy architectures and give their captive and third-party digital distributors the ability to automate real-time solutioning bundles, which can include even the most complex products.
- Built-in investment portfolio generator allowing unit-linked policies to be configured holistically with other financial products and scored as part of the customer’s HappiU
“With computing-intensive simulation and optimization techniques on the back of Nobel-Prize winning research on Prospect Theory, we had brought advisory standards to a new level. Now we bring the customer closer to the adviser by using the 360-HappiU® as the reference system, like how we have come to rely on the thermometer as the source of truth,” said Clarie Kwa, Chief Market Officer.
The 360F product suite is currently being used by life insurers and brokers in the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Singapore and Malaysia.
Can Metaverse lead to financial empowerment?
Mark Zuckerberg announced that his social media company will be a Metaverse company and hailed it as a “successor of the Internet”  Is he exaggerating? Considering how even social media platforms have dominated how we socialize and do business, we shall not be too quick to dismiss this incoming wave.
So what is Metaverse?
In Metaverse, virtual reality, augmented reality and the Internet converge into a virtual universe.
How will Metaverse matter in financial advisory?
As a tool, Metaverse provides immersive experience.
In-game designs such as scoring systems and virtual role-play can make financial literacy experiential and improve engagement. This is attractive to consumers looking for novel experiences.
Customers can also simulate their financial dreams, and “sample” the fruit of astute financial planning and impact of financial products. Goals-based planning can be experienced first-hand at the prospecting stage and provides an emotive precursor to financial advice.
Too good to be true
Metaverse can be addictive as instant virtual gratification entices humans who are intrinsically pain averse and pleasure seeking. The virtual world is a place of escape where one can absolve himself from personal financial responsibility and virtually simulate his financial dreams endlessly. Like Monopoly, the player circles around the gameboard with “money” he did not actually toil to earn, playing a game that disregards the test of time on human patience and tolerance for psychological pain.
In reality, financial advisory does not necessarily entail painless solutions. A one-off purchase of a financial product is only a part of the solution. As the fruit of financial planning can only be enjoyed in cumulative and sound financial habits, delayed gratification is a must.
Should I ride the Metaverse wave?
Not everyone shares in Zuckerberg’s Metaverse passion for good reason. Metaverse is also dubbed a “dystopian nightmare”  by Niantic CEO, John Hanke because people will rather escape to a painless, albeit meaningless alternative to self-improvement. In that environment, people can lose the self-determination to boost competency and autonomy, which is key to financial empowerment.
Metaverse may serve as a experiential precursor to financial advisory, but we have reservations in using virtual reality as an all-encompassing tool.
Insight generation is crucial in financial empowerment
With or without virtual simulation, every financial tool must be able to offer feasible financial insights to have practical meaning. Just as one’s financial destination is personalised to the individual, every feasible insight also has to be personalised to one’s lifestyle choices and priorities as well.
While insurers can explore exciting technologies with the Metaverse, the stakes are high. Even if the Metaverse may succeed the Internet, it cannot supplant the quintessential component of financial planning: customers empowered to reach their aspirations on self-defined terms.
Drop us an eMail here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Image source: https://medium.com/building-the-metaverse/the-experiences-of-the-metaverse-2126a7899020
The reason why not all differences can be celebrated
Imagine this: You fall sick and visit the doctor who diagnoses a mild condition. A month later however, you still feel unwell and consult another doctor. This time, the prognosis is grim. You only have six months to live.
How is it possible that professionally trained doctors can give completely different diagnoses? A random error called noise explains this.
In their book, “Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment”, Nobel-prize winning behavioral scientist Daniel Kahneman, with co-authors Cassy Sunstein and Oliver Sibony describe noise as unwanted variability  . With high levels of noise, something as random as the weather or last-read news could affect professional judgment which should have been consistent throughout.
Noise in the financial advisory world
Perplexing variability can be detected in financial advice given by different financial advisers for the same customer profile and accessible product shelf.
Without attempts to quell noise in the industry, financial advisors are not interchangeable. This means financial advisory firms are unable to scale their business and customers cannot rely on a single opinion.
However, it is not apparent to customers that they should seek different opinions. Self-verification of financial advice, up till recently, is difficult. It is a process which complexity should not be underestimated. Financial advice does not merely comprise identifying financial needs and gaps. Sound financial advice takes comprehensive consideration of all financial objectives and profile of the customer synchronously. This means customers should receive solutions that are optimized, enabling them to best fulfil their prioritized financial objectives in view of their profile, such as risk tolerance, constrained budget, and time horizon.
Hence even if customers know they ought to seek different opinions due to the inherent noise in financial advisory, they will still find it difficult to assess all of them and decide on one.
…to make it worse, we are wired to be ‘noisy’
The truth of the matter is that noise isn’t just within us, it is an unchangeable part of us as humans.
Since primitive times, creative problem-solving skills have evolutionary benefits as humans needed to explore ways to survive, such as fire-making for warmth  . This creativity inevitably gives rise to variability in judgement and as long as there are no immediate negative associations, the variability survives through time. In other words, noise is an evolutionary by-product of what makes us human.
If humans are wired to be ‘noisy’, how can customers then get consistent and high-quality financial advice?
We can reduce noise
Noise can be eliminated through mathematical algorithms because they remove nuances and variability. In 360F, we run algo-driven optimization and robust stress-testing to minimize noise and therefore room for subjective judgement.
Built on the backbone of Nobel Prize-winning research in behavioural economics, namely Prospect Theory, 360-ProVestment® processes all of the customer’s insurance and investment priorities and profile including loss aversion and constraints within a mathematical function that ultimately quantifies the customer’s self-defined financial satisfaction. The solutioning optimizer then stress-tests possibilities before generating solutioning options based on the financial advisor’s accessible product universe, i.e., it customizes virtual bundles of insurance and/or investment products that yield the highest financial satisfaction for the customer.
Remove noise but not the human touch
The goal to eradicate noise does not supplant our innate need for human connection. Human empathy is key to certain aspects of financial planning which are emotionally sensitive for areas such as legacy planning.
Hence, we foresee the rise of digital advice. Through effective collaboration with advisors and optimization technologies such as 360-ProVestment®, consumers can receive quality and noise-free financial advice.
Drop us an eMail here: email@example.com
 Kahneman, D., Sibony, O., & Sunstein, C. (2021). Noise: A flaw in human judgment. Little, Brown & Company
 Carruthers, P. (2002). Human creativity: its cognitive basis, its volution, and its connections with childhood pretense. British journal for the philosophy of science. 53(2): 225-249