Benzinga is proud to introduce the Benzinga Women’s Wealth Forum, a space where women can learn how to empower themselves through financial technology and be inspired by the stories of powerful women in finance.
Ahead of the March 21 event, we’re highlighting the stories of our speakers, some of the leading women in the financial services industry.
Our next installment is an interview with Pefin founder Ramya Joseph.
Give us the elevator pitch for your company.
Pefin is the world’s first Artificial Intelligence (AI) financial advisor. The platform provides intelligent, unbiased and personalized financial planning and advice. Pefin’s mission is to look after the financial best interests of users in a way that embraces the unique individuality of their lives.
The platform offers:
- 1. Long-term Financial Planning services, including a complete Financial Plan
- 2. Financial Advice, including savings and debt management strategies
- 3. Investment Advice and Portfolio Management Services
- 4. Real-time monitoring, updates, and curated financial literacy content for each user
Pefin takes into account each user’s current financial situation and future plans, incorporating their financial behavior to offer comprehensive advice. Individuals and families connect financial information such as their checking accounts, credit card accounts, debt, investments, and retirement plans to the platform. An interactive chat experience helps users plan for life events that matter to them – from kids, to college, to a new home, to changing jobs, all the way through retirement.
Pefin’s AI uses this information to craft a thorough financial plan for each user, showing the user if their plans are affordable. It provides advice on how they can save to achieve their plans, when they should repay debt, whether investing is appropriate and if it is, how they should invest. Over time, Pefin learns from the user’s unique spending behavior and personal preferences and automatically adapts, updating the user’s financial plans and advice based on their actual behavior.
Pefin’s AI is capable of making 80-year financial projections and keeping up with 2-5 million data points per user, 24/7, including changing rules, markets, and lives to provide accurate, real-time advice. Unlike other services, Pefin does not insist users invest through its platform, but if chosen, it tailors each portfolio to help users achieve their plans. In today’s data-driven environment, security is a natural concern and Pefin utilizes military-grade encryption and multi-factor authentication, all geared towards securing users’ personal and financial data.
Financial planning and advice is available to the first 100,000 users for the subscription price of $10/month, a 33 percent discount to the regular subscription price of $15/month. Investment advice and portfolio management services are offered by Pefin Advisors LLC, an SEC regulated subsidiary of Pefin. There is no required minimum investment size, and fees are 0.25 percent of assets under management, with the first $5,000 managed for free.
What trends and ideas do you think will dominate the fintech discourse in 2018?
NLP: up until now this has been a curiosity or a “toy”- but will quickly become the dominant way that humans and machines interact. Solving problems of being visually impaired or having limited dexterity, as well as addressing illiteracy, NLP will be a transformational technology for many people. There is still work to be done to refine the existing technology to make it fully usable, but it is well on its way.
Convergence of AI and Blockchain: Dispatching Bots to act on behalf of people sounds very futuristic- but will start to become part of the mainstream dialogue in 2018. Whether for shopping, mortgage applications or other tasks that are now part of most human’s lives, soon using the security of Blockchain we will be able to dispatch our own Bots to act on our behalf and increase the efficiency of many aspects of life.
Identity: 2017 was a watershed year when most people, whether as a result of the Equifax or Uber hacks, realized that we are all significantly at risk, and the cost is astronomical, for individuals and society. Watch for solutions that put the power back in the hands of individuals, allowing them to control how, when and by whom their identity is used.
What surprised you the most in the fintech industry in 2017?
- ICO’s – certainly didn’t see that coming but find it a refreshing new trend in capital raising
- Slower adoption of Blockchain – clearly there is a lot happening at the institutional level but not much happening yet for the consumer
- Bitcoin prices – climbing ever higher, certainly exceeding my expectations
Does fintech open up new financial opportunities for women? If so, how?
There are tremendous opportunities for women- and men- in fintech. Whenever there is a true meritocracy (and it doesn’t get more clear that rewards are based on performance than in fintech), there are opportunities for top performers to succeed.
At Pefin, fully half of the senior team (including the Founder and the CEO, as well as many of the senior engineers) are women, it is clear that there are opportunities for everyone who want to innovate, work hard and change the world!
What about your company makes you excited to go to work?
Knowing that we are bringing something to the world that is really needed- financial advice, planning and education- at a price that is affordable for the first time, is really exciting. What we are doing at Pefin is bigger for us than a job. It is a transformation of wealth management- and financial services more broadly.
Photo courtesy Pefin