•  AI systems bring advantages to financial decision-making by analyzing vast amounts of data, offering insights, and removing emotional bias. They provide convenient and cost-effective financial advice.
  •  However, relying solely on AI for financial advice has drawbacks. AI can't understand individual financial situations and goals, may have errors, lacks emotional support, and doesn't consider broader life events.
  •  Factors to consider before trusting AI for financial advice include the complexity of your financial situation, risk tolerance, emotional needs, cost considerations, and the option of a hybrid approach combining AI and human advice. Caution is advised when using generative AI.

Investors want the easy way out when it comes to financial advice. Nowadays, they rely on artificial intelligence models to help navigate the way with their investments. But should you rely on such technologies with your hard-earned money?

To answer this question, let's delve into the intricacies of AI in the finance sector, weighing the pros and cons to help you decide whether to trust these digital advisors.

Should You Trust AI for Financial Advice?

Before we jump into the specifics, let's try out the breakthrough technology to see if three generative AI tools, Google's Bard AI and OpenAI's GPT-3.5 (free) and GPT-4, can help you diversify an investment portfolio containing different asset classes.

For testing, I wrote a prompt that reads:

You are a finance expert AI designed to optimize a portfolio with a size of $20,000 that needs to be allocated to the following assets: global equity ETF, bond ETF, commodities, and crypto ETF. Perform portfolio optimization for the Sharpe ratio metric and provide an output in terms of percentage allocation.

The Sharpe ratio is typically calculated as follows: Sharpe Ratio = (Asset Return - Risk-Free Rate) / Asset Volatility. It is a commonly used metric in finance that helps investors evaluate the risk-adjusted return of an investment or portfolio.

Google Bard's Response:

digital representation of Google Bard's response to the selected prompt

Google's AI model focuses on the importance of investing for the long term, rebalancing the portfolio, and diversifying it. Moving on, let's see the results on ChatGPT models—GPT-3.5 (free version) and GPT-4 (paid subscription).

ChatGPT-3.5 Response:

digital representation of ChatGPT 3.5's response to the selected promptChatGPT-4 Response:

digital representation of ChatGPT 4 response to the prompt

Even using the ChatGPT models, the focus is on the long-term aspect. In all cases, the portfolio allocation is designed to maximize the Sharpe ratio while still maintaining a diversified portfolio.

The global equity ETF provides exposure to the global stock market, which has historically offered the highest returns over the long term. The bond ETF provides exposure to fixed-income assets, offering lower returns and volatility. The commodities ETF provides exposure to commodities, which can offer inflation protection. The crypto ETF provides exposure to the cryptocurrency market, which is a new and volatile asset class.

But the situation can change. That is, traditional or even emerging asset classes can emerge victorious and offer higher returns depending on the market conditions. On the contrary, a potential financial market collapse can potentially wipe out your profits.

Understanding the Rise of AI in Finance

Artificial intelligence has completely changed how the financial industry works in recent years. AI uses its extensive training data and enormous processing power to quickly look at a ton of information, figure out patterns, and even predict things that only humans could do before. Because of this, AI has made personal growth tools really popular among everyday people, including for finance.

But before you try to use artificial intelligence tools for financial advice, it's important to understand the good and potential problems that come with it.

AI Engineer

Pros of Trusting AI for Financial Advice

Using artificial intelligence models does have certain benefits that can come in handy for users.

Artificial intelligence (AI) systems bring a host of advantages to the realm of financial decision-making. Their prowess lies in data-driven analysis, allowing them to adeptly process vast amounts of financial data, scrutinize market trends, and dissect economic indicators. This analytical prowess empowers them to offer insights that might elude a human advisor.

Furthermore, AI platforms break free from the constraints of office hours, offering round-the-clock availability. This means you can conveniently access financial advice whenever you need it, without the hassle of scheduling appointments or waiting for callbacks.

Another notable strength of AI in this context is its ability to eliminate emotional bias. Human emotions often cloud judgment when making financial choices. However, AI systems such as ChatGPT and Bard base their recommendations solely on data, thus removing the emotional bias that can lead to impulsive or irrational decisions. This rational approach enhances the quality of advice provided.

Lastly, AI-powered financial advisory services often present a cost-effective alternative to traditional human advisors. Their affordability makes high-quality financial guidance accessible to a broader range of individuals. In essence, AI not only enhances the analytical capabilities of financial decision-making but also offers convenience, objectivity, and cost-efficiency, ultimately reshaping the landscape of financial advisory services.

Such advantages could be the key reasons behind investors' vote of confidence. In fact, per an August 22, 2023, report released by the Certified Financial Planner Board, 31 percent of US-based investors would consider following AI-generated financial advice without verifying it with another source.

digital representation of investors' trust in AI without verifying
Image credit: CFPB

The study surveyed over 1,100 adults to display investors' overall comfort in trusting AI without verifying the information. The poll is evident that AI could possess skills to showcase financial acumen for investors. Having said that, AI possesses some pitfalls as well.

Cons of Trusting AI Models for Financial Advice

Trusting AI like ChatGPT and Bard for financial advice can be a double-edged sword, and there are significant disadvantages to consider.

blind trust in artificial intelligence

Firstly, these AI systems cannot truly understand your unique financial situation and goals. They operate based on algorithms and historical data, so their recommendations might not align with your needs. Financial decisions are deeply personal, and a one-size-fits-all approach can lead to poor outcomes.

Another critical drawback is the potential for errors. AI systems are not immune to glitches or inaccuracies. Relying solely on AI advice without verification can expose you to significant financial risks. A simple data error or a failure to account for unexpected market events can lead to substantial losses.

Furthermore, AI doesn't offer emotional support. Financial decisions can be stressful, and AI lacks the empathy and human touch that a human financial advisor can provide. Sometimes, you need someone to talk to, especially during turbulent market times.

Lastly, AI systems can't provide the broader context of your financial life. Life events, such as marriage, childbirth, or retirement plans, can significantly impact your financial decisions. AI may not grasp these nuances, leaving you with advice that doesn't consider your overall circumstances.

5 Factors to Consider Before Using AI for Financial Advice

Overall, the decision to trust AI for financial advice ultimately depends on your circumstances and preferences. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Complexity of Your Financial Situation: If your financial situation is relatively straightforward, AI may suffice for basic guidance. However, if your circumstances are more intricate, you may benefit from the nuanced insights a human advisor can provide.
  2. Risk Tolerance: Your risk tolerance plays a crucial role in your financial decisions. AI systems may not fully understand your risk appetite, so if this is a critical factor, it might be wise to consult a human expert.
  3. Emotional Needs: Do you require emotional support and guidance when dealing with financial matters? If so, a human advisor can offer the empathy and reassurance that AI lacks.
  4. Cost Considerations: AI-driven financial advice is often more cost-effective than human advisors. If your budget is tight, AI may be the more practical choice.
  5. Hybrid ApproachConsider adopting a hybrid approach by combining AI advice with occasional consultations with a human financial advisor. This way, you can benefit from both the data-driven analysis of AI and the personalized insights of a human expert.

It's a substantial list, but it could help you get a headstart.

Always Maintain Caution When Using Generative AI

You should always remember that while AI has merits, trusting it blindly for financial advice is risky. It's essential to approach AI recommendations cautiously, consider its limitations, and ideally complement it with human expertise that can provide personalized, emotionally supportive, and context-aware guidance tailored to your unique financial journey.