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Genivity’s Approach to Security: An Interview with Heesh Naim

Genivity’s Approach to Security: An Interview with Heesh Naim

Today we welcome the Genivity CTO, Heesh Naim, to the Genivity blog to tell us a bit more about himself, explore his stance on security, and how he fosters growth within the organization. Heesh comes to Genivity with a wealth of experience in both enterprise security and startup growth. He worked for 12 years at Motorola in IT security and then spent time working with one of the fastest growing Insurtech companies, Snapsheet.

As the Chief Technology Officer, Heesh is the technical wiz that powers Genivity. But aside from all things technology, he also enjoys being involved in the other aspects of Genivity as a business. “That is one of the reasons I joined the team. I have the ability to be involved and integral to everything from driving individual product direction and decisions to proposing new products and solutions to driving the overall company direction and interacting with investors.”

Heesh believes that being well rounded allows him to make the best technology decisions to foster the growth and success of the organization.

He sees the Genivity HALO solution as an evolution of years of discovery, research, and development. That evolution will be ongoing in order to keep the solution at the forefront of the industry, offering both an easy yet comprehensive solution to planning for health expenses in retirement. Part of that evolution will be the creation of complementary and augmented solutions, providing an option to meet the financial planning needs of every client, advisor, and organization.

Security has been a focal point for tech companies, especially in the fintech sector, in recent years. Heesh has worked tirelessly to ensure user security for HALO users, as he views ” cyber attacks, data breach, and unforeseen outages are amongst our top security concerns.”

The first two of which really revolve around privacy, meaning that customer data is anonymized and protected. Heesh and the Genivity team as a whole go to great lengths to ensure this privacy as it is designed into our solutions, gathering mostly non-personally identifiable information, yet still specific to give the best-personalized recommendations.

“Behind our solutions are also a host of security mechanisms in place to detect and prevent a data breach. We also utilize an auto-scaling, geo-redundant, cloud-based solution to protect ourselves from unforeseen outages.”

The foundation of a secure system begins with the client. As such, there are several things financial advisors should be aware of as they think about the security and privacy of their client information.

Heesh believes there are two major aspects that provide the foundation for the security of a financial advisement practice. First, the vast majority of financial advisors are utilizing 3rd party software to enter, pull in, or aggregate financial information for their clients. Your overall security is only as good as your weakest link. If any of those aggregation points is insecure, all of the data is vulnerable.

“The second follows the concept of the weakest link, where my message to the financial advisor would be, don’t be the weakest link. The majority of information leak or data breach is due to someone taking information from a secure environment and housing it in an insecure environment. For example, a printed document that isn’t disposed of properly or sending secure information over insecure channels. Don’t open suspicious emails, don’t store sensitive information insecurely on your laptop, overall educate yourself on best practices for your information and apply that to your practice.”

Beyond security, Heesh sees several other areas at the top of the Genivity development list.

“Modularity/Extendibility of our solutions is a big concern in the development of all Genivity products. We are trying to create a baseline solution that plugs a significant gap in financial planning software today, however, there isn’t a one size fits all type of solution that will work across the board.”

In order to meet these needs, it’s of Heesh’s view that we must develop our product to be agile in the way it can fit with current and future financial planning solutions. We are creating a suite of options that an advisor or organization can customize the solution to best plug into their systems and fit their needs.

Genivity could have a profound effect on the financial advising industry because of our focus on health and how it relates to wealth and a client’s legacy.

“Our solutions help the industry by providing smarter data-driven recommendations that better prepare their clients for retirement. Naturally, the financial advisor industry is recommendations based. The difference is our recommendations center around health and longevity and branch outward from there when traditionally the approach has always been financed based. To me, our approach seems very intuitive as the saying goes “you have nothing if you don’t have your health,” and the data shows the largest unforeseen costs center around health issues, so how can you create a plan you have confidence in if you aren’t taking into account the “heart” of the plan, pun intended.”

Heesh urges everyone he interacts with to talk to their financial advisor about how health and longevity are factoring into their future. If they don’t have a good answer, ask them about HALO from Genivity and let them know that you want to take into account your personalized health outlook when planning for retirement.

In the News: Decoding Client Biases

In the News: Decoding Client Biases

Behavioral finance is an emerging topic in the financial planning sector that has many in the industry wondering how they can best approach the topic with their own clients.
As a recent Financial Planning article points out, “At the leading edge [of behavioral finance] are tools that help clients manage their cognitive biases. Big data, artificial intelligence and even blockchain, to name just a few, will allow firms to create deeper personality profiles of clients and overcome their predispositions.”
While the author admits that there’s no one solution to address all of the cognitive biases clients have, there are solutions that are tackling the issue head-on, including Genivity.
The way that Genivity’s HALO collects health and lifestyle data and generates recommendations based on AI-driven algorithms is of great interest to those in the behavioral finance space. Says former LPL chief Mark Casady, “Technology-driven human assessment will take off as AI takes hold in wealth management.”
To learn more about how AI is driving behavioral finance, read the entire story.
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.”

Wrap-Up

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.”
Telemus Capital Spotlight on Genivity HALO

Telemus Capital Spotlight on Genivity HALO

One of our Genivity HALO clients, Telemus Capital, was featured on ABC News Detroit for how it uses HALO to determine a client’s longevity. The story discusses how the financial advisors at Telemus utilize the HALO solution to help clients better prepare for health care costs in retirement to set them up so that they invest for the true cost of health care based on their personalized HALO report.

You can watch the full story here or below.
In the News: Client DNA is the Newest Edge in Financial Planning

In the News: Client DNA is the Newest Edge in Financial Planning

Genivity partner, BMO Harris Wealth Management, spoke with Financial Planning publication about how they are using Genivity HALO to better help their clients plan for health care costs in retirement.
“We know that health care costs are one of the biggest concerns that clients have and we have to be planning for all eventualities,” says Purva Sule, director of BMO’s Partners Team. “The engine spits out a detailed forecast of health care costs which is useful input for advisors to create a custom plan and to be more accurate as well.”
Americans are increasingly ill-prepared for medical expenses, especially as they reach retirement. The cost of medical care has long outpaced inflation and become more than 10% of overall spending when clients hit age 65, according to Vanguard. At the same time, the ranks of senior citizens are rapidly expanding. The U.S. population over the age of 65 is projected to top 90 million by 2050 — up from around 50 million in 2020, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Genivity Partners with BMO Wealth Management

Genivity Partners with BMO Wealth Management

Genivity is excited to announce a partnership with BMO Wealth Management that will arm their advisors with the HALO assessment that will enable advisors to engage with clients through life stage, health risk and elder care cost planning.
With the HALO assessment, BMO advisors are better equipped to have important healthcare discussions with clients and estimate future long-term health care costs. BMO Wealth Management’s U.S. business will start using the HALO solution with clients in three markets including the Hinsdale and Barrington suburbs of Chicago and in Florida’s Sarasota and Naples markets.
Said Steve Williams, Senior Vice President of Wealth Planning, BMO Wealth Management (U.S.), “Fintechs are gaining momentum in the financial services industry and Genivity is a great example of a rising startup that offers a distinct platform for advisors. I truly enjoyed mentoring the Genivity team and look forward to continuing our partnership with them.”
Last year, Genivity was one of three winners in the BMO Harris/1871 FinTech Partnership program, which created a valuable opportunity to explore further partnership opportunities. Genivity will be helping BMO meets its goal of building a better all-around customer experience by focusing on a digital transformation that includes enhanced digital capabilities and leverages partnerships that ultimately complement the existing strengths within the bank.
“Healthcare cost in retirement is a top concern for many of our clients; with Genivity’s platform our team of advisors will not only be able to prepare our clients in this area better but also manage the risks that come with planning for unforeseen circumstances,” said Darrel Hackett, President, BMO Wealth Management U.S. “We value this new partnership and are excited to pilot the benefits with a segment of our clients.”