Heather Holmes, Author at Genivity
The Science Behind HALO: An Interview with Dr. Emily Chang, PhD

The Science Behind HALO: An Interview with Dr. Emily Chang, PhD

Genivity’s HALO is an important risk model for financial advisors and their clients. Our HALO risk model offers personalized reporting on health and wealth factors that can affect retirement planning. These factors are used to predict one’s time spent in retirement and the expected cost of maintaining their health in their older age.
To give you an in-depth understanding of our risk models, we asked our Chief Data Scientist and co-founder, Emily Chang, to explain the science. Here is what she had to say on the topic.

Our Chief Data Scientist and Co-Founder

Emily Chang’s focus revolves around “data and science aspects of the company, such as creating and updating algorithms for predicting longevity and years of disability, evaluating scientific literature and data sources, and communicating the scientific and technical aspects of Genivity to others.” She loves to see the world through numbers, which as she states, makes the world “richer, deeper, and more captivating.” What draws her to this field are the challenges like lifespan algorithms and the potential benefit her work has toward individuals. “Giving people numbers and guidance as they face the most important questions surrounding retirement is rewarding, knowing that people who use our tools will be better prepared for their futures” states Emily.

The Process of Algorithms and Genivity’s Data Practice

Emily explains that the creation of algorithms depends on the “needs and wants of customers, and responding to changes and developments in the research world.” As she puts it, “customers may request more detailed and personalized estimates for health care premium payments. Such an update would involve a review of the literature surrounding different healthcare premium plans, creating a model for capturing the various plan options, and writing specifications for the developers on how that model can be enfolded into the preexisting algorithms.”  
However, Genivity does not only focus on creating new algorithms. We also update our existing risk models. As Emily says, “When a new and important paper relating to any of the many parameters in our algorithms is published, we evaluate the study. If the study is indeed sound, we update the parameters and model as needed.”
That leads us to ask: How do you analyze data and determine its value? Emily states that there are a variety of ways to analyze data. One type of process is evaluating the data herself. “In choosing a study to use, I look for large sample sizes, good study design, and the tier of the journal of publication (or quality of government or other data source).” Another process Emily uses is to evaluate the quality of the risk model projections. This involves “comparing the distribution of our estimates and intermediate results to published findings, as well as graphing the generated data and doing simulations.”

Risk Model Limitations

Risk models have limitations. Science and data can only predict to a certain extent. As Emily puts it, “The future lifespan of a healthy athlete may be short (think of the proverbial bus), whereas an obese smoker may live to age 100 for reasons we don’t understand.” However, that does not mean that all hope should be lost. Every individual varies from general information, but with personalized input, a better estimate can be created. Emily puts it better: “What we can do is provide estimates, averages, and likelihoods that are as personalized as possible. These probabilities and likelihoods are a starting place for financial planning, and are more customized and powerful than the estimates provided by standard actuarial tables.”


Emily’s work with Genivity has created new tools to improve and help plan the lives of many individuals during their time in retirement. The time and effort placed into our risk models under the direction of Emily will have a great impact on the lives of your clients.
“I hope that the work I am doing helps people, with the help of their financial advisors, approach this question with more confidence and certainty.  With early and careful financial planning, my hope is that individuals will have less stress and uncertainty around what their old age will bring.”
Genivity Nominated as one of Chicago Inno’s Coolest Companies

Genivity Nominated as one of Chicago Inno’s Coolest Companies

Chicago Inno, a local organization that covers topics shaping the city’s economy, recently nominated Genivity as one of its coolest companies for its 4th annual awards that highlights local startups and businesses with the best culture. The nominations are based on what makes a company’s employees excited to go to work every day. Anything from the perks and group outings to free lunches and charitable initiatives are included in the nomination process. We are thrilled to have been nominated for this prestigious list and are excited to see the results of the voting and final awards. You can help Genivity rise above the rest by voting for the reader’s choice for Coolest Company competition. The voting is open until August 10th and we’d love it if you could take a minute to vote and to share the news with your friends! You can vote here, and if you’re in the area, grab a ticket to the party on August 22 at Galleria Marchetti where they’ll announce readers’ choice and other category winners.
Genivity Selected to Google Demo Day 2018

Genivity Selected to Google Demo Day 2018

Press Release: 2/28/18 1871 member company Genivity, which provides clients with life-planning solutions, will pitch at Google Demo Day in San Francisco on March 28th. Each year, Google Demo Day brings a diverse group of startups from across North America to Silicon Valley to showcase their technology and meet investors and mentors. Startups are nominated by partners within the Google for Entrepreneurs Partner Network. Google teams review nominated startups and select them based on the strength of the team, execution and traction, and their growth potential. The program is an opportunity for founders to work side by side with a team of experts to craft a compelling narrative, prepare for on-on-one conversations with investors, and build a visual presentation to secure funding. This funding preparation is capped off with a private dinner with investors and an exclusive pitch event. Startups that pitched at previous Demo Days have raised over $249 million and nine have been acquired. Genivity secured 1871’s nomination by delivering an impressive presentation at 1871’s Pitch Day event, where a select group of member companies pitched to a panel of judges drawn from the 1871 community.
“We saw a top-notch group of startups that day, but Genivity stood out to us as a company with a strong product, an even stronger team, and true potential for growth. Genivity is an excellent example of a member company that has taken full advantage of the many resources 1871 provides, and we look forward to cheering them on as they tackle this new and exciting opportunity.” – Howard A. Tullman, CEO, 1871
Co-founded by Heather Holmes and Dr. Emily Chang, Genivity is an award-winning life-planning AMT69537.jpgplatform that personalizes future health and elder care costs to help financial professionals better drive client engagement, retention, and growth. Holmes participated in the fourth cohort of WiSTEM, 1871’s accelerator program for women entrepreneurs, and has since graduated from the program and her team has occupied a private office space at 1871. Over the course of the last year, Genivity has experienced significant growth — they’ve expanded their team, launched a new product, and won multiple awards. What’s more, Holmes was invited to meet with the Treasury Department in Washington D.C. just last year  — along with a handful of other fintech innovators from around the country — to discuss government regulation and its impact on fintech innovation. .
“Our team is humbled and ecstatic to be chosen to represent Chicago and 1871 at Google Demo Day. Health and elder care expenses are the number one cause of bankruptcy in retirement, and we appreciate Google shining the spotlight on this issue and showcasing how Genivity can help.” – Heather Holmes, CEO, Genivity
In the News: The Changing Face of FinTech

In the News: The Changing Face of FinTech

As Craig Iskowitz of Wealth Management Today points out, in some cases, incubators can be like a golden ticket for a startup. Incubators provide mentors, networking opportunities, technical resources, and (in some cases) funding, in exchange for small stakes in the company.
Envestnet | Yodlee launched their own incubator in October 2014. The goals were to nurture budding companies as well as highlight innovative use cases of Envestnet | Yodlee technology and data.
Jeff Cain, the Incubator Director, says that the incubator is also part of Envestnet | Yodlee’s platform strategy.  By encouraging startups to leverage Envestnet | Yodlee’s resources they bring added value and innovative ideas to their customers.
Read More about Genivity’s time in the incubator program and how they are leveraging Envesnet | Yodlee’s platform to bring clients and advisors together to talk about health and wealth.
Genivity Featured in AARP Financial Innovation Frontiers Report

Genivity Featured in AARP Financial Innovation Frontiers Report

Genivity is honored to be featured in the 2017 AARP Financial Innovation Frontiers report. This annual report provides an analysis of AARP research based on financial technology innovation. It includes research on where the technology is going and gauges the sentiment of the market.
Genivity is positioned to provide a solution to some of the key issues discovered in the report: Many 50+ consumers are financially exposed and ill-prepared In three critical areas:
  • Financial fitness
  • Healthcare emergencies
  • Retirement readiness
You can read the full report and get a more in-depth understanding of the current financial innovation landscape, click here.