Samir Vasavada is the Co-Founder & CEO of Vise, a technology-powered asset manager that uses artificial intelligence to help financial advisors build, manage, and explain personalized portfolios for their clients.
You met your Co-Founder when you were 12, could you share some details regarding these early days and what were some of the first apps that you collaboratively worked on?
It's always fun to reminisce about the early days. When Runik and I met at college summer classes at the age of 12, we were just two kids with a shared passion for technology and a curiosity about the world. We were drawn to each other's ambition and started collaborating on small tech projects. One of our first apps was a simple game, and while it wasn't groundbreaking by any means, it was our first taste of creating something from scratch. We were hooked.
After this you both started advising financial institutions on how AI works, how did you get to this point, and what were some of your biggest lessons from this chapter in your life?
Over time, our interests matured from just building apps to finding a new scalable way to build apps, and we began to see the potential of AI. We were fascinated by its capabilities and started diving deep into its intricacies. By the time we were in our sophomore year of high school, we had developed a solid understanding of AI's potential and began consulting for financial institutions. It was a bold move, but we believed in the value we could bring. The biggest lesson from that chapter? Always be adaptable. The world of finance is complex, and AI is ever-evolving. We had to constantly learn, iterate, and adapt to ensure we were delivering value.
How did you then transition to building a software application for financial advisors which became the first version of Vise?
Recognizing the integral role of relationships in advising, it was clear to me that software could significantly deepen this client-advisor interaction. In a world where personalization is rapidly becoming a cornerstone in all aspects of our lives, Runik & I saw a glaring need for such tailored solutions during our consulting days. This realization sparked the idea of Vise. By leveraging technology, we sought to enhance the advisor’s capacity to understand and meet individual client needs, thus laying the foundation for the first version of Vise. The journey from identifying this gap to developing a solution was challenging but extremely rewarding.
How important is market and stock sentiment in the data points that are analyzed for buy or sell orders?
Short-term market and stock sentiments can affect price dynamics. Still, at Vise, we strategize for the long game, envisioning portfolio longevity of 20-30 years aligned with retirement objectives. Taking a cue from Benjamin Graham's perspective that, “In the short run, the market is a voting machine, but in the long run, it is a weighing machine,” we lean towards choosing fundamentally sound companies through detailed factor research. We analyze a myriad of elements including, but not limited to, a company's assets, duly adjusted for intangible facets like investments in research and development and software, in relation to the company's current market valuation.
Vise offers personalized portfolios, can you describe what this term means, and why it is valuable to investors?
At the heart of what Vise offers is an understanding that the ‘one-size-fits-all' approach is no longer viable in the modern financial landscape. Artificial intelligence is powering personalization across many aspects of our lives, facilitating customized experiences in e-commerce, entertainment, and even in our daily coffee orders.
Personalization in investing has already seen incredible growth, with the largest & fastest-growing advisors leading the way. According to Bloomberg, 51% of financial advisor clients utilize a custom or modified model. However, while the financial industry is attempting to adapt, with hundreds of ETFs being created annually to meet this need, it still falls short of achieving true personalization due to the limitations inherent in traditional approaches.
This is where technology, and specifically artificial intelligence, becomes a game changer, offering a robust solution to the personalization dilemma. At Vise, we have leveraged cutting-edge AI technology to help develop a platform enabling advisors to adapt swiftly and smartly to changing client needs and market dynamics. By doing so, we help ensure that advisors can construct and manage truly personalized portfolios, designed to go far beyond what ETFs can offer.
Personalized portfolios mean curating investment strategies that are finely tuned to individual clients' financial goals, risk tolerance, and preferences, providing a service that is not just about selling securities and products but about forging a path to financial security and prosperity. The value to investors can be immense, translating to strategies that are more responsive, adaptive, and ultimately more successful in meeting their individual needs and aspirations.
Can you discuss some of the customization options such as investing in specific sectors and subsectors?
At Vise, we offer portfolio customizations based on various dimensions, including individual tax strategies and current capital gains to help optimize tax benefits. Clients can highlight companies they favor for continued investment, allowing for a portfolio that mirrors their confidence in specific corporate growth and ethical standings. We can apply restrictions to avoid overexposure in certain sectors or subsectors, helping promote a balanced portfolio with more resistance to market volatility. Moreover, we enable clients to ethically curate their portfolios by allowing them to restrict investments in ‘sin stocks' or even companies with predatory lending histories. Advisors can employ their understanding of capital market trends to forge a personalized asset allocation strategy. Lastly, we facilitate customization at the strategy level, encompassing factors like risk tolerance and financial goals to foster portfolios that are truly aligned with individual client needs.”
What are some of the challenges of automating financial management with AI?
Often, people come into financial services with a mindset of wanting to be disruptive. However, finding success in wealth management takes a balance of both understanding the industry and traditional approaches to wealth management with new ideas and technology. One example of a hurdle is navigating the regulatory landscape, which isn’t as quick to evolve as technology – obviously with good reason. At Vise, we work hard to overcome these challenges, bringing together the best of both approaches.
What is your vision for the future of personalized AI investing?
The way we see it, the world of wealth management is gravitating towards a Wealth 3.0 paradigm, where scaled customization isn't just a perk but the norm. This is all about going beyond one-size-fits-all solutions and instead offering portfolio solutions that are carefully curated and powered by leading-edge technology. AI stands central in this transition, not just as a tool but as a catalyst, enhancing the ability to offer a level of personalization previously unimaginable and doing it at a scale that meets the demands of a broad spectrum of clients. The future we envision at Vise is one where AI enables financial advisors to deliver not just personalized but deeply personal portfolio solutions, crafting strategies that are as unique as each individual, fostering stronger relationships, and, ultimately, achieving better investment outcomes.
Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit Vise.