Can I Get a Deal from a Chatbot ?

Given the push by most service companies to replace their customer service folks with AI (i.e. a Chatbot), will we still get up-sold services? Will we be able to get better deals if we say we’d like to talk to the Customer Retention Bot? With storefronts disappearing will we never interact with humans again?

What is a chatbot? Current definition:

a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.

This is another weird part of FinTech as well, where you won’t talk to a human, you will interact with a ChatBot. Who gets the commissions if the ChatBot convinces you to buy their Balanced Mutual Funds? An old broken down programmer like me could program something fairly simple that could shepherd customers into the “Balanced Fund Paddock”.

When I speak to a credit card chatbot about how I missed a payment accidentally will it cut me some slack, and rescind the interest rate if I promise to pay off my bill completely? Surprisingly, that could be built into the AI for the system, but will it? The excuse, “sorry, the machine is programmed that way” is an easy cop-out for most firms.

A possible chatbot conversation

What Does the Future Hold?

I have said previously the answer is always no, unless you ask, however if you ask a machine will you get help?

I can envision a future where folks will share cheat phrases to use with ChatBots to get better deals, or better services. All technology has cheats in them somewhere, you just need to know where to look.

Do folks even enjoy talking to Chatbots?


Paper Delivery, Bitcoin and #MoneyTalk

I was saddened to read about the demise of the first job for many kids, the paper delivery person. When I was 10 years old I started delivering the Montreal Star, and then I moved to delivering the Montreal Gazette and then I delivered the Sunday New York Times for a while. These jobs taught me discipline, taught me about money and most likely contributed to my torn rotator cuff. With the ever-changing media environment, delivery of papers was going to disappear, but I am still saddened to see it happen.

Montreal Star

Peace and Love to the Montreal Star and their Paper Delivery Crew

Picture courtesy of the Montreal Gazette

Do you want to know about Bitcoin? There is a great video at the end of this article that will help introduce you to the most over-hyped investing idea since Bre-X (or Nortel)). Did you realize there are over 500 types of Cryptocurrency? If you want to keep up with them, go to 500 coins and check a few of them out. Choice of the week? Etherium !

More Bitcoin interesting news, a Miami Bitcoin Conference has stopped taking Bitcoins as payment due to high fees and problems. You still think investing in this is a good idea after reading that? You might be a die-hard Bitcoin lover.

My Recent Writings

A slower week for me, and I fell back on the old click-bait, flim-flammery title trick with Stock Picks 2018. As most of you know, I am an Index Investor so how can I put out stock picks? For that you must have a read.

Micro Blogging on Finance

A very interesting Tweet, that tweaked my memories of when I was a roaming Co-Op Student. Every 4 months I had to move and that made me a Minimalist. Everything I had, had to fit in the trunk of a Mercury Zephyr (admittedly bigger than most cars today). In an esoteric way moving was good (for me), however, for folks like Squawkfox and this Twitter Handle it is a life wrenching horrible event.

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Stock Picks 2018

For my regular readers you must be shocked by this title, but a new year brings some new ideas and concepts. For the first time in a while, I will be putting out my stock picks for 2018. Hey if I can put out swag Financial Predictions for 2018, I can do this.

Yes, I have espoused Index Investing for a long time, but if you really want to make big money you will need to take some big risks. Some might tell you that Bitcoin is your way to sure money, others might say that Marijuana is a sure-fire money maker in the coming year, but I am here to say they are missing the boat. You buy that stuff and all you’ll have is bad-parity and a craving for Chips and Brownies.

I give you the portfolio that you should have for 2018.

Stock Picks

๐Ÿ“ˆ Click here to unlock this amazing stock tip ๐Ÿ“ˆ


Polar Vortexes, Minimum Wage and #MoneyTalk

Over the Christmas holiday Ottawa and Southern Ontario were in the grips of the two words Canadians fear worse than Personal Debt and that is Polar Vortex. It was that bone chilling, battery killing and skin burning cold that we expect in Mid-January, but here it was over Christmas. I have lived through this before, but as I said in 2008 when the markets crashed, it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

My Exact Sentiments for 2018

With the new year comes many new Government initiatives, and in Ontario that means the minimum wage moves to $14 an hour. There are also new rules about sick leave. What will be the impact of these changes? Currently we have one view that says this will make life easier for those working for a minimum wage, and the counter view that 60,000 jobs will be lost due to this pay increase (according to the Bank of Canada). Time will tell whether this change will make things better for employees, but the early returns suggest the employers are not overly pleased with the changes.

My opinion on the increase in costs to small businesses is that it may introduce more automation in many businesses, and we are already seeing this is companies like McDonaldโ€™s with their automated ordering system in store. If costs become prohibitive, businesses will adapt and find cheaper ways to do things, or go out of business. Will this help folks who receive minimum wage? My fear is all this will mean is the elimination of many jobs (or the closing of many small businesses), but I hope I am wrong.

An impromptu survey by me, suggests some small businesses are simply passing the extra cost on to their customer base, by raising their fees.

There was a chance that my last pay cheque of the year might be zero, thanks to the Phoenix pay system, luckily, for me, that did not happen.

The good news is that the Rideau Canal is finally open, unfortunately, it is -20C as a high, so not many folks are going to be skating on it!

Stay warm this weekend, and check on your neighbors too.

My Recent Writings

I took a little time off over the holidays, although I did put out a few articles. I did put out my normal Merry Christmas statement for 2017. Christmas can be very commercial, but to me it means a time for family, and a time to remember those who may not be with us any more. Happy New Year 2018 I decided to point out that I have been at this for a while, and linked to as many of the Happy New Year articles I have written and the New Year’s Resolution articles as well. Yes I really have been at this for over 12 years.

I broke one of my rules of writing with Financial Predictions 2018, by publicizing my guesses as to what this year might hold financially. I try not to go for too much click-bait but the devil took the wheel for a while.

Micro Blogging on Finance

Wondering about when you should start saving and planning for Christmas 2018?

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Financial Predictions for 2018

My ability to see the future is unreliable, but I am willing to guess about the future. I supply these financial predictions for 2018 as an example, and anyone who uses them to make financial decisions, does it at their own peril.

Financial Predictions

BCM Financial Predictions

  1. Interest rates will continue going up. Inflation is in the air and the economy is starting to overheat. By the end of this year, the overnight rate will be at least 2.5%. This is a 150% increase, so be aware, and lower debt.
  2. The Canadian Dollar will be above 85 cents by the end of 2018. The American economy is going well for now, but the Canadian economy will do better. The Tax relief in the USA will cause their economy to overheat for a while as well (i.e. Inflation).
  3. One of the 3 following bubbles will burst:
    1. Bitcoin, someone will finally point out the Emperor is naked and it will plummet.
    2. Marijuana, the only people making money on this are going to be the Governments (and they will find ways to blow that money).
    3. Property Bubbles, things seem to be cooling down in some areas, but in Ottawa and Montreal things continue to heat up.
  4. The Old Bull in the Stock Market, will continue to rise, for the first half of the year, however one of those bubbles bursting (see 3) will stress things and the markets may end the year at the same levels. Remember to take your profits and rebalance your portfolios.
  5. Maybe not this year, but soon a prominent investing firm will be found out to be a front for an AI trading system, with few human employees. My guess is this is already going on, but the disclosure of this should cause upheaval in the trading world (but it won’t).
  6. The Phoenix pay system will be scrapped, but the new system will work no better. The cancellation will cause a larger Federal Budget deficit.
  7. There will be a bigger data breach than the Equifax catastrophe, that will be disclosed. It most likely happened in 2017.

Official Disclaimer

Please remember, these are SWAG from the BCM (simple wild ass guess from the Big Cajun Man), and you should never use these financial predictions for your financial planning.


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