“It’s really just been taking off,” Matt Brown, founder and CEO of CAIS, told RIA Intel.
Last year, CAIS, the alternative investment platform that wealth managers have used to allocate over $10 billion, hired an education whiz to help develop learning tools for financial advisors. The new platform, CAIS IQ, launched barely two months ago but it’s already delivering powerful insights into how advisors learn and what they are interested in.
CAIS IQ promises to help advisors “learn faster, remember longer, and master alternative investments.” It leverages education research and machine learning to personalize short, “bite size” lessons to each user. For example, one user might understand structured notes more quickly than another, and their lessons on the subject would adjust accordingly. Most private wealth managers (55%) don’t allocate any client money to alternative investments, but a case can be made for their place in portfolios.
Brief lessons lasting three to five minutes help users avoid ego depletion, or mental fatigue that makes learners more easily distracted. Personalizing the lessons ensures users are appropriately challenged, keeping their attention and helping them retain information. It is a “gamechanger for education,” Tim Maurer, the director of Advisor Development at Buckingham Strategic Wealth, said in a statement about Buckingham using the platform.
CAIS IQ is free for any CAIS member to use. Advisors with the Certified Investment Management Analyst and Certified Financial Planner designations can receive continuing education credits for CAIS IQ courses.
Since it was made available to more than 9,000 advisors in June, CAIS IQ’s insights and intelligence group has been accumulating data and observations of advisors.
Some advisors are outlearning others when it comes to alternative investments, even within the CIAS IQ platform. Mobile devices lend themselves especially well to short, personalized bursts of learning and that is translating into better user results. Mobile users are spending 24% less time learning than web-based users but mobile learners are achieving a 56% “higher rate of mastery,” Andrew Smith Lewis, chief innovation officer at CAIS, said.
Before joining CAIS IQ last year, Smith Lewis co-founded a popular adaptive learning engine called Cerego, which also supports programs for the U.S. Army, New York University and other institutions, in addition to CAIS IQ. Smith Lewis was also the founder and CEO of The Princeton Review of Japan.
“This parallels research findings that mobile is a superior way to engage, and that little and often is the recipe for driving effective and lasting learning. Many don’t have the time these days to consume whitepaper after whitepaper, especially when clients are calling.”
In turn, advisors using the education platform who are also participating in CAIS webinars are coming with greater levels of sophistication and understanding, another sign of CAIS IQ’s effectiveness, Smith Lewis told RIA Intel.
CAIS IQ tracks what it calls the “time to grasp,” a way of measuring a return-on-learning that indicates what subjects are easier or harder for advisors. Since June, private equity was the easiest asset class to grasp, with learners requiring an average of 49 seconds per item. Meanwhile, digital assets was the hardest asset class to grasp, with learners requiring an average of 2 minutes and 5 seconds per item.
Subjects might be easier or harder for all kinds of reasons. One is that advisors might simply already know about markets or products similar to an unfamiliar one. Learning gets easier when more knowledge is accumulated about something, Smith Lewis said.
The most popular courses might not come as a surprise, given those who might seek the platform in the first place and the markets and needs of investors in recent months — 72% of active users selected Fundamentals of Alternative Investments, followed by Fundamentals of Private Credit (65%) and Fundamentals of Hedge Funds (62%).
As RIAs grow in size, more are expanding the educational tools they offer to advisors. But Brown and Smith Lewis said they are unaware of any like CAIS IQ. “Anybody can hang content out there and say ‘read about hedge funds.’ It's very, very different when you have a modern, science-based machine learning platform,” Smith Lewis said.
CAIS IQ has been so successful already that Brown said the company would consider other asset classes to teach advisors about and even content for investors. “The platform is very robust and it’s content agnostic, meaning that you can put whatever we’d like into the system. So, it begs the question ‘what else could we do beyond alternatives?’”
Smith Lewis said what attracted him to CAIS IQ was that the education platform was a serious initiative, not an afterthought or side project. It has funding and strategy to support it in the coming years, Brown said.
“We’re starting a little mini revolution here and we’ve got the boats in the water to do it. Early days still, but we’re very excited,” Smith Lewis said.