For many people, making personal finance decisions is necessary and a major source of stress.
Helping alleviate that confusion is what compelled Ramya Joseph to leave her position as vice president of proprietary trading at Goldman Sachs, and found the financial technology company Pefin in 2011. As competition and technology reshape the sector, "we're being the change we'd like to see in the financial services industry," Joseph said in a recent press release.
Automated financial advice is becoming more commonplace in the hunt for bigger returns, yet Pefin bills itself as "the world's first [artificial intelligence] financial advisor." The company aims to use machine learning to deliver a range of financial planning and investment advice via a chat interface.
"I started Pefin mainly because when you think about less affluent people, there's really no access to financial advice aside from robos," Joseph told CNBC in an interview recently.
"When people say, 'I want to retire comfortably,' there's really no avenue for them: Either do it yourself or use a financial advisor — but if you go to a financial advisor, they are expensive and they usually have minimums which price a lot of people out of their services," she added.
Joseph, who holds graduate degrees in computer science and financial engineering from Columbia University, was spurred by her father losing his job during the 2008 financial crisis. The global upheaval jeopardized his financial future and retirement plans.
"I was working at Goldman and helping millionaires, and here was my dad, just trying to retire. I thought, 'What do people do when they don't have someone like me to help my dad and make spreadsheets?'" Joseph said.
"So the core of the company is very user centric. It's a very different underlying model," she added.