The Surroundup, Videos


  • by Gillian Stovel Rivers, MA, CFP®, CEA
  • June 27, 2024

“Good morning. It’s 7 A.M. The weather in Malibu is 72 degrees with scattered clouds. The surf conditions are fair with waist to shoulder highlines, high tide will be at 10:52 a.m.”

– J.A.R.V.I.S, Tony Stark aka Iron Man’s A.I., from the movie Iron Man.

Imagine waking up every day to a voice like this, speaking sweetly to let you know exactly what you’ve allowed it to learn about your habits and preferences. Your schedule and your passions. Your needs and your fears. In some ways, it sounds pretty great. And it IS pretty great, so long as you retain the humanity and the drive of someone like Tony Stark. Why am I bringing this up?
It’s been a minute since we have come face to face with as significant a revolution as the A.I. revolution we are living right now. Right up there with the advent of the internet itself, A.I. promises to change the very landscape of our existence.



Think of it: if you wanted to, eventually you could just lay down and let A.I. do everything for you. Become like those folks in another futuristic classic, Spielberg’s WALL-E, where immobile consumers drift around all day in an endless dystopian Disneyworld doing nothing except consuming food, images, fairy tales, advertisements, real and fake news, and adding nothing to the equation except waste – which, by the way, gets jettisoned to another planet. Humans who have been completely domesticated by large corporate interests and their A.I. I’m going to be honest with you here when I say – this version of the future does not look pretty great when it comes to what we might allow A.I. to turn us into.

This month’s Surroundup invites you to start imagining with me what it could look like in some ideal circumstances, and also shares with you why I am rather “bullish” from an investing standpoint, but also “cautious” from a wealth planning standpoint. But at the end of the day, I believe any client strategy can be impacted for the better, with the right level of forethought, curiousity and optimism.

Why am I optimistic about A.I. as an investment theme to ride for many years to come?

Two reasons: the strength of the A.I. cartel, and the breadth of the A.I. ecosystem.

There are a few huge names at the centre of the action on this relatively new mega trend. Names such as Taiwan Semiconductor, Nvidia, Microsoft, Meta and Amazon who collectively boast a $9.2 trillion market cap, with billions of dollars in cash on their balance sheets to continue to deploy.

They are collectively a team of rivals; “frenemies” if you will. Each needs the other but is still going to push to be the strongest company of them all. Unlike the thousands of vapourware companies that populated the dot com era, there are almost no other companies on the planet with stronger earnings than the ones at the helm of A.I. This is reason to sit up and pay attention: they are driving at the same time as they are footing the bill, and many of us are making money in the meantime.

The scale of some of these operations is unfathomable – as an example, at last check, Meta has over 3.59 BILLION users worldwide with only 67,317 employees, and they are all doing target marketing. And if you still wonder if this makes any money, it does. Meta grosses over $46B per year, meaning each employee per capita generates over $680K per year of revenue AND 78% of that is profit. And that’s just one member of the A.I. cartel. The ratios by company may vary, but the bottom line is consistent: they are here to make money.

Then there is robustness of the A.I. ecosystem. Now that 30% of the S&P 500’s market cap is dominated by A.I./A.I. related companies, there is potential of $15 trillion USD of new value to be created (where as the entire TSX is $3 trillion). This is because of the diversity of the A.I. ecosystem footprint. It’s incredibly wide, and it’s not just in tech. It’s not just hardware and chips and software, it’s also concrete and construction and energy and services. A.I. isn’t a sector, therefore, it’s becoming an industrial customer of anyone who is relevant to the game of leveraging data to do things better than humans can alone.

So then, why am I cautious about A.I. as a wealth planning theme, happily forever after?

Because it literally means we have to, every one of us, invest more. Some people are already good at that, and some people may never have been shown how. What do I mean by that?

When I say invest more I mean this in several different ways based on your age and stage in life. But for all of us, it means we need to invest more in our knowledge and ground rules about what we will allow it to do in our life. About our humanity and our drive to stay in charge of what it means in our life, regardless of what other people are doing. What might this look like?

  • AT ANY AGE: Maintain the ability to challenge, or as I like to say “to talk back to” J.A.R.V.I.S. Remain the human boss in your world. Question what’s good for you and what’s not, while recognizing the power and the genius of that much access to data.
  • OF WORKING AGE: Literally consider how to invest in yourself to stay ahead of being replaced by A.I. for your active earned livelihood. This is a topic that holds huge possibilities for many if approached earnestly and with an open mind.
  • AT AN EARLY AGE: Begin to accumulate and invest savings at an earlier age than in prior generations. This means learning to invest earlier in life so that you know by the time you are 35-40 years old, you have a middle age income fund that can supplement your lacklustre earned income.

This could be fairly game changing and so the word of the year is INVEST.

Here are my top tips for bravely facing this next chapter for humankind:

  • Learn and grasp as much as you can about it before forming an opinion. It is SO EASY to watch 2-minute reels, one after the next, full of uninformed drivel about what the future means with A.I. in it. Check your sources. If you really want to know more about how A.I. can positively affect our world, check out the reading list provided at the end of this blog. It’s only a start, but it is a good start towards maintaining an open mind that is looking towards global problem solving.
  • Anticipate that as with any revolution, there will be disruptions, but that our wiring as a species wants to both live long and prosper (hat tip to Mr. Spock). The more of us who think like I suggest in #1, the more humans will remain like Tony Stark and less like the sad happy lot in WALL-E. Anything worthwhile doesn’t come easy. But when you consider the scope of the world’s problems that A.I. can effectively help to alleviate, not to mention the unfathomable multiples and money to be made while this innovation is rolled out worldwide for decades, it might be worth the bumps in the road after all.
  • Retain the humanity and the drive of a Tony Stark. I don’t believe A.I. will take my job because I continue to work hard at maintaining my humanity – which so far A.I. cannot replicate – and my drive to accept that it is something I will use to practice wealth management and many other personal and professional interests of mine. I will almost certainly leverage it to handle low values uses of my time. From what I can see so far, A.I. already helps our investment managers to perform hundreds and thousands of calculations to model potential outcomes in the markets, and screen stocks and other investments far faster and more effectively than a human could in five lifetimes. But someone is there to pose the questions to the A.I. Someone has the humanity to interpret and communicate what it means to every level of client. And someone is there to challenge the A.I. when their humanity connects with more than data and facts, and that in truth, is what advisors do. With good filters and programmers, this could conceivably democratize access to good information.

It’s like Allen Iverson says, “When you are not practicing, someone else is getting better. Either you give in, or you fight.” This is going to be interesting, because I’m not entirely sure how many humans or which humans exactly, will choose to stay curious, stay ahead, stay positive, and ride this next inevitable revolutionary wave.

If you ask me what I really think, I see several chapters in what remains of my career in the years ahead, which will include but are not limited to:

  • Wonder;
  • Confusion;
  • Stealth presence of abundant data;
  • Questioning the veracity of said data;
  • Eureka moments when the quality aligns with the needs;
  • Incredibly smart slick service upgrades; and
  • There will even be a moment where people will prefer and perhaps even pay more for human art, human written words, and a human advisor than an A.I., because algorithms don’t love you back.

Finally, if you ask me what I’m doing about it, it’s all of the above, and I hope you will too.

Want to talk more about this and how it impacts your family and your wealth plan? Let us know.

That’s all for this month’s Surroundup. Have an amazing day, be well, and stay connected.

By Gillian Stovel Rivers, MA, CFP®, CEA
Senior Wealth Advisor
Surround Wealth Advisors
Assante Financial Management Ltd.


Some references on A.I.:

Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, by TEGMARK MAX

Nick Bostrom’s Home Page, Founding Director, Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University (2005—2024) Principal Researcher, Macrostrategy Research Initiative

Superintelligence | Nick Bostrom | Talks at Google

Singularity Hub (web resource)


This material is provided for general information and should not be considered individual investment, tax, accounting, or legal advice, or construed as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the presenter(s) and not necessarily those of Assante Financial Management Ltd. All opinions expressed and information provided herein are subject to change without notice. Every effort has been made to compile this material from reliable sources as at the date indicated however, no warranty can be made as to its accuracy or completeness Market conditions may change which may impact the information contained herein. All charts and illustrations in this document are for illustrative purposes only and they are not intended to predict or project investment results. In considering any particular investment or investment strategy, please remember that past performance is no guarantee of future performance. The information contained herein may not apply to all types of investors. Before acting on the information presented, please seek professional financial advice based on your personal circumstances.