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Friday, November 24, 2017

Alexa, Why Don't Fundsters Love You?

News summary by MFWire's editors

If you and yours have caught the Echo craze, try asking "Alexa" about your mutual fund company, or about your mutual funds. Odds are that your favorite new Amazon device will say something like, "Hmmm, I don't know that."

Amazon released its first Echo devices three years ago, and the voice-activated device and its intelligent personal assistant program, Alexa, seem to be everywhere these days. Companies that want to get in on this action can develop skills that Echo users can enable, and there are now more than 27,000 skills that Echo users can add. Of those skills, there are 674 in the "business and finance" category. By MFWire's count, at least 97 (more than 14 percent) of those "business and finance" skills for Alexa are related to crypto currencies like bitcoin and ethereum.

Yet the asset and wealth management industry is almost completely absent from the list of available Alexa skills. MFWire only found five familiar names in the list, and only two of them, Morningstar and TD Ameritrade, seem to connect mutual funds in with those skills at all. (Fidelity and the Motley Fool both offer Alexa skills that seem to focus on investing in individual stocks, while Great-West's Alexa skill is about insurance offerings.)

Looking to the future, an ambitious 401(k) recordkeeper might want to have participants ask Alexa about which mutual funds are available in their 401(k) plan menu or even connect the participant to to an education specialist or advisor. Perhaps a broker-dealer might want to help an investor find a nearby branch or FA. Perhaps the SEC or Finra might want investors to ask about mutual fund filings or regulatory action. A mutual fund company could give FAs voice-activated access to internal wholesalers or to value-adds. Amazon is encouraging companies to use Alexa to reimagine their customer experience. Will fundsters heed the call? 

Edited by: Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

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