|Clients:||Financial institutions, financial advisors, financial planning firms, technology platforms, custodians|
|Value proposition:||AI-driven solutions to identify impactful life events|
|The executive team:||Robert J. Kirk, Founder and CEO of InterGen Data, Inc.|
InterGen Data provides data services that use AI and machine-learning solutions to help financial advisors and institutions predictively understand how life events and unforeseen health-care costs can affect financial planning. The company recently received $800k in seed funding for further development.
Rob has been in the financial services industry for almost 30 years. He started his career as a financial advisor and eventually moved to asset management, electronic trading, wealth management and clearing. Over his career, he has served in multiple executive positions such as; the vice president in the CIO Group at Penson Financial Services, as Chief Information Officer at 1st Global Research & Consulting, and as Principal Consultant for Wealth and Brokerage at Mphasis, a Blackstone Company. Robert has experience managing, creating, innovating and implementing financial tools and services, which he has employed at InterGen Data to quickly scale and grow.
How did InterGen Data get its start?
Rob first got the idea for creating InterGen Data after a tragic life event. His grandfather was in his early 90s when Rob’s family made the decision to move him to a long-term care facility, where he stayed for four years. What Rob’s family did not realize was the cost of care—nearly $171,600 per year, which added up to $686,400 total in four years. In these types of situations, saving money isn’t always the first priority because erveryone wants what’s best for their loved ones.
The financial cost came as a shock to Rob for several reasons: First, that number wasn’t included in his grandparents’, parents’, or his own financial plan. Secondly, he could not understand why such life events and their respective costs were not automatically taken into consideration in any of the financial planning tools Rob researched.
How InterGen Data works
When an individual or family talks to a financial advisor, they are typically told how much money they need to save per month and year. Generally, advisors don’t tell clients how much they will be spending over the course of their lives. The only way to get an accurate picture is if the advisor sits down with the client and maps out all possible scenarios: What if you move to a different city/state? What if you buy a new house? What if you lost your job? What if you got cancer? and so on. Robert says this is tough to do because an advisor’s projections are based on perfection, manual intervention and not on actual life.
Because extra costs and unforeseen spending were not being accounted for, Rob took it upon himself to find a way to factor in life events (positive and negative) with their costs and present these predictions in a way that could help advisors plan better. InterGen Data developed proprietary, AI-based technology heavy on machine-learning algorithms that can identify when a client will likely have an important life event and what financial impact that event could have.
“The thing is … nobody plans for bad things to happen. I’m actually helping advisors plan better by having the data that represent what typically happens to people like their clients and how much it costs them. Use that in your life, in your plan.”
Sourcing data to identify impactful life events
Everyone bounces back fairly quickly after a cold or flu, but not everybody bounces back from cancer. This is why, from an obvious health and financial perspective, cancer has a high level of impact. Based on very large psychological studies done on tens of thousands of people over 15–20 years, Rob has formulated a list of the 40 most important life events (based on a severity matrix) that could happen to any one person.
InterGen Data’s algorithms collects and uses data from two main categories: 60% government and 40% private resources. Rob notes that some datasets include jobs data, housing data, income data, and death data (when someone is likely to die, and what they’re likely to die of). Government sources like the Census Bureau, CDC, WHO, Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation in collective offer approximately 500,000 datasets. This may seem like a high amount, but the government has approximately 150 agencies and the data isn’t always “clean.” The data needs to be analyzed to find the true data source (untruncated, raw, unedited).
Rob says private data sources that InterGen Data will include are based upon social media sites via two of the biggest data pipelines – DataSift and Gnip which include; LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as other sources from private companies.
InterGen’s clever integrations
To preface the uniqueness of InterGen’s integrations, it’s important to highlight that InterGen competed in Orion’s 2018 FUSE competition, where they linked their AI-powered financial planning tool with Orion’s platform by using their integration with Alexa as a client engagement device. InterGen won the Best Newcomers Award for coming up with the best solutions.
The Alexa integration works as follows:
- A person securely logs into an app on Alexa, such as a “Digital Advisor” and then engages with the “Digital Advisor” by asking and/or responding to questions (that contains a hint of a life event).
- The data is then analyzed, spoken back to the client and given an option where they could (speak to an Advisor, calendar a meeting, or get sent an email) with the appropriate details about their potential life events and their costs.
- As this occurs, the advisor will get their clients’ searches (in real-time) and the potential impacts that they are researching (having a child, getting married, getting cancer, having a divorce, etc.), obtaining better insights into what may be in their clients’ financial roadmap.
Currently, InterGen’s integrations can push data based on pulling data from a smart speaker and sending that data to another company and storing it in a workflow. The latter is accomplished with DAViD (Digital Advice Via Demographics), an AI robo advisor widget built using Angular. From InterGen’s website, DAViD is, “the world’s first A.I. driven module that provides its users with contextually relevant information about their lives and any major upcoming financial costs in a predictive manner.”
Rob also informed me that InterGen uses the cleverDome cyber security platform which is a community-driven solution that protects confidential customer data by hiding it from the public and moving it “under the Dome.” He believes that this is the best manner to ensure safe and secure client driven AI.
This is a hot prospect for many large FinTech firms like Orion because not only can they analyze data from clients’ searches in a secure way they can also potentially analyze data from other sources as well (Cortana, Google, etc.).
InterGen’s pricing is straightforward: $1 per tax ID per month. Robert notes that he decided to price it this way because he knows broker dealers and insurance firms pass expenses on to the advisor. He wanted to make it scalable and easy for consumers, so it costs $48 per year to monitor life events for a family of four. And it’s still $48, whether the family has 20 accounts or 100+.
Tech stack and architecture
The AI engine used by InterGen is an Oracle complex event processing engine. The solution is SQL-based and built using n-tier architecture to make it scalable. The middle tier involves mostly RESTful services, with cleverDome covering cyber security. Rob says he uses Amazon Web Services or his own data center for cloud services.
What’s next for InterGen?
InterGen is a young startup with big ambitions. Rob has currently built 5 out of 40 life events and 6 out of the top 15 health-care events or critical illnesses.
“The plan is to roll out another 10. So basically, five more life events almost every quarter. And I’m on queue to add about 10 roughly at the end of the second quarter. That’s when the next 10 will come up.”
Ideally, Rob wants to find partners who can say which life events they would like InterGen to prioritize and deeply integrate with those partners to perfect the algorithms and models. In addition, Rob wants to use his AI engine to uncover new correlations within their client base that includes life stages, life events, products and services which were previously unknown.
Another major goal is building a new model for risk assessments that could potentially identify the risk of not being able to save or invest due to life events.
WealthTech Club takeaways
InterGen Data is a good example of how AI technology can be used in an innovative way to serve the finance industry. Robert and his team have developed creative ways of analyzing data and sharing the data in a secure manner. Life events can include everything from death and illness to happy moments like marriage and childbirth. Impactful life events carry a financial burden that advisors need to account for. With InterGen Data, this critical information is made more readily available.