How generative AI can support the finance industry

October 12, 2023

Finance businesses are exploring how generative AI can support employees and customers with a range of text and numerical processes. Financial companies want to capture generative AI’s significant potential while managing the risks. In the finance industry, however, businesses are exploring support on the best way forward. The broad language models within generative AI have strengths with text-based generation, determining language and word patterns, but in the numerically based finance industry, does generative AI hold as much potential?

Despite the scale of generative AI in financial services, financial companies recognise the challenges involved. Most organisations discuss the risks associated with generative AI technology, which typically include data privacy, security and output accuracy. 

Another less discussed challenge is the requirement for the necessary storage infrastructure. To efficiently deploy both AI and generative AI, businesses must implement new storage capabilities to manage the large, real-time, unstructured data used to develop, train and implement generative AI. Without the necessary storage solutions, businesses will experience challenges such as latency that hinder and possibly stop generative AI deployment altogether. 

New storage solutions must be capable of managing data sets at speed and scale, which existing storage solutions cannot provide. AI-enabled infrastructure depends on innovative services like distributed storage, data compression, and data indexing. With the appropriate storage, businesses are perfectly positioned to support and accelerate generative AI.

Examples of use cases with adopting generative AI

Fraud detection and prevention – A core competency of generative AI is identifying patterns. In the finance industry, generative AI can support the recognition of anomalous transactions in real time, helping to determine and prevent fraudulent activities. For example, PayPal implemented a real-time data solution called Aerospike. The results included a 30x reduction in the number of missed fraud transactions and a 3x reduction in associated hardware costs. 

Regulatory Compliance – The finance world is heavily regulated, but generative AI can support the delivery of compliance reports. Through automating selected processes, like document verification and customer identity validation, generative AI can simplify processes like anti-money laundering and know-your-customer (KYC).

Financial Support – Generative AI can assist employees and their customers. It can help deliver a more bespoke financial analysis, including credit risks, credit score, budgeting and savings. 

Automation – Finance consists of multiple documents, countless contracts and account statements. Generative AI automates and streamline processes and repetitive tasks like data entry and reconciliation. 

Customer experience – In the finance world, applying generative AI-powered solutions can strengthen the customer experience. By providing constant support via chatbots, generative AI can be responsible for customer queries within a personalised portal.

Financial Services businesses are willing to embrace technological innovation. For years the industry has welcomed AI, and progress is accelerating thanks to generative AI solutions. The operational efficiencies and greater intelligence to support financial services employees and customers are distinctive benefits. 

In an industry used to proactively manage risk, generative AI will likely expand within the finance industry and support many positive transformations.


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CFA Institute launches investment industry big data and AI guide

March 29, 2023

The CFA Institute, a global association of investment professionals, has introduced a guide for AI and Big Data services in investments, published by the CFA Institute Research Foundation. The guide details how asset managers use AI and big data technologies to streamline the investment process and enhance investments and business performance.

With contributions from data scientists and investment leaders at market leaders, the CFA Institute Research Foundation AI handbook provides a detailed insight into the investment industry’s adoption of data science to offer investment plans to deliver more resilient portfolios, make more informed trading decisions, streamline client plans, generating client-focused services and create additional business intelligence.

Margaret Franklin, the CEO of the CFA Institute, explains that their business considers the combination of AI and human intelligence a winning formula for success in finance in the future. As AI and big data solutions become more pronounced in financial markets, industry leaders must be well-prepared to effectively measure and incorporate these services. Franklin hopes the AI handbook will support the industry in adopting AI and big data solutions meaningfully to benefit their customers.

AI handbook details

The AI handbook is presented from the industry perspective, including real-world examples and tested solutions. Larry Cao, senior director of research at the CFA Institute, explains that industry requirements have expanded from asking for details on how AI and big data work to requesting an action plan supporting their business strategy as AI and ML measures become part of the mainstream. The AI guide is the latest in a series of research from the CFA Institute, focusing on supporting practitioners and policymakers with the necessary services to evaluate and implement AI and big data to the highest standards.

No single operating model for data science integration can work for all finance and asset management businesses. Technology must adapt to work for culture, structure, core values, budgets and strategic priorities. The guide will support companies in commencing, refining or planning the next stage of their data science vision.

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Utilising AI to tackle rising financial crime

November 25, 2022

Pressure from regulators to eliminate money laundering and sanctions on Russia is accelerating plans for AI.

Falling economic growth and rising interest rates are impacting business models and forcing some to rethink their hiring plans. Despite a surge in development, fintech isn’t immune from these impacts, but those specialising in AI monitoring for compliance on transactions remain an essential service from many financial groups. Since the 2008 financial crisis, the demand for compliance checks accelerated as financial institutions faced significant fines for making errors. In previous years, finance-related businesses attempted to maintain pace with continuous changes and stringent regulators by employing thousands of research to manually compile information.

Fast forward to today, businesses are utilising machine learning tools to gather thousands of data sources and combine them. Global fines for anti-money laundering breaches have been increasing quickly, reaching $2.2 billion between 2019 and 2020, a rise that put financial services companies worldwide on high alert for potential cases of non-compliance.

The battle against terrorism and fraudulent activities has triggered a broader clampdown on money laundering, headed by the Intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force and Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s money laundering body. The recent sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine have escalated regulatory compliance to the top of corporate priorities. Digital finance businesses see a challenging future, emphasising increased fraudulent activity and a demand for financial services businesses wanting to maintain a grasp on digital crime. All those in the industry agree that technology has a critical role in managing compliance and fraudulence. Technology is vital in determining complex money laundering schemes, mining big data sets for terrorism financing activity, and is essential for criminal activities associated with cryptocurrencies.

Financial business, can and sometimes do develop their solutions, especially the larger groups, which collectively invest billions every year in technology. Furthermore, new competitors in the AI and machine learning industry are emerging. RegTech company, ComplyAdvantage believes their advanced technology will enable them to maintain a strong position within the market shortly. Marcus Swanepoel, co-founder and CEO of cryptocurrency platform Luno, explains that his business initially developed its system for compliance checks. It then switched to traditional providers, which rely more on manual processes. It finally switched its attention to ComplyAdvantage because of its higher accuracy and reduction of false positives, enabling the team to focus on customers with the highest risk. Similar to other tech businesses, ComplyAdvantage has launched a new product using AI to identify hidden risks in transactions. The tool enables companies to detect less obvious risks across multiple industries. With the growing potential of fraud, increasing regulation and the rise of new technology, the demand for compliance and anti-money laundering services for all industry professionals shows no sign of slowing down.

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How AI represents the next stage in digitalising the finance industry

October 12, 2022

With the significant advancement of technology, our lives have experienced considerable changes. By leveraging innovative technologies such as AI, ML and Big Data, we are transitioning into a new stage of innovation where industries worldwide are automating manual processes. This has made our lives similar and seamless, and the finance industry has also embraced this shift towards digital.

Artificial intelligence has emerged as a pivotal part of this digital transformation. In a report by McKinsey Global Institute, it’s estimated that utilising AI to improve core finance functions and provide customised services to customers will increase industry value by over $250 million.

A range of innovative tools is continuing to reshape the finance industry, and this is only the beginning. As we progress to the next stage of technological discovery and development, we must explore what role AI will play in disrupting the finance industry, its influence on businesses and how it will create a range of new opportunities.

The finance industry is recognising the significant transformative potential of AI. Industry analysts believe that by leveraging AI, the finance industry can save $1 trillion by 2030. Another study by Narrative Science a few years back suggested that over 30% of financial service businesses had already adopted AI-focused solutions such as predictive analytics and voice recognition services.

The emergence of innovation is predominantly focused on the customer experience. New AI-powered tools like chatbots are becoming a necessity for many new businesses on the front-end experience. Process and task automation and other analytics strengthen and elevate finance services on the back end. As suggested by Gartner, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), as an example, provides a very cost-effective service, amounting to around a third of the compensation provided to an offshore employee and about a fifth provided to an onshore employee. RPA does the manual work, utilising a rule-based system that automates repetitive tasks
AI in finance focuses on machine learning, but automation plays a significant role in banks. The finance industry has benefited considerably from machine learning. Banks can gather and explore vast amounts of finance-related data. Machine learning is a discipline of AI which enables machines to learn and progress by using data and not relying on human intervention.
Voice recognition is another modern innovation that applies AI to perform banking operations through voice commands. At the core of this technology is Natural Language Processing (NLP). This AI-driven technology is used to design a range of virtual assistants and chatbots.
In the financial scene, leveraging AI provides two distinct advantages; firstly a big increase in efficiency, and secondly, reduced stages that could be exploited for fraud. The trend of AI-focused lending initially emerged within the tech startup and was then rapidly adopted by other entities. Since market investment is mostly dominated by individual fund managers, it might be difficult to understand their influence on AI. However, AI-focused funds can considerably reduce the possibilities of human error through their ongoing evolving rules and algorithms.
Other significant factors behind the increasing demand for AI in finance include the development of cheap and efficient resources, the digitisation of financial services and the rise of new data on individuals and organisations.
The progression in advanced technology like Artificial Intelligence has transformed the financial industry. With the rise of next-gen tech applications disrupting the industry, technologies like AI and ML have significant potential to transform the sector for the better. Investment banks and financial startups are now utilising the best AI to enhance profits, maximise efficiency, eliminate errors and generate the best returns.

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The value of synthetic data in the finance industry

August 24, 2022

Recently the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) explored the use of synthetic data in financial services. The plan, launched in March, focused on incumbents and startup companies and explored industry views on the potential for synthetic data to boost innovation in finance and the possible risks and limitations. Synthetic data refers to artificial data created via algorithms. One of the most infamous types of synthetic data is ‘deep fakes’, which produce artificial information. The technology is generated by studying patterns and the statistical properties of data and with algorithms creating these patterns within a synthetic dataset, replicating real-world information. The main advantage of this format, compared to real-world data, is that synthetic data utilises information without identifying specific people. As long as no person can be identified within the synthetic data, data-protection measures do not apply.

As companies focus more on data business strategies, the opportunities to use data analytics to generate more valuable insights based on business and customer data continue to rise. However, as more data is integrated within a company, the risk associated with data privacy controls required to manage personal information increases. In the finance industry, the bulk of customer data is considered very sensitive. This is where synthetic data can provide an opportunity for finance businesses. Synthetic data is a privacy-controlled system that fabricates information in a way that replicates various trends within ‘real’ data sets. The synthetic data can replace other real data sets to support insights gathered from synthesised data, protecting privacy rights that could be compromised within a real data set.

With many data analysis techniques, there is a potential risk that information can be connected to a person, but synthetic data does not carry this risk. In the finance industry, synthetic data is used as test data for new products, for model validation and AI training. The FCA has emphasised that many challenges of today’s AI industry are related to a lack of data, datasets being too small, or a lack of access without potentially breaching privacy rights. In a recent consultation, the FCA explained that historical data can often be biased and unrepresentative, and algorithms based on this information will replicate these biases. Synthetic data could provide a solution to these problems.

Aside from eliminating data privacy concerns, the technology can fill in specific gaps where data required is low or doesn’t exist. Synthetic information can be used to create realistic but uncommon scenarios, such as risk management within financial services.
Synthetic data could offer a solution to the challenges between emerging technologies and the barriers concerning what production data can be leveraged. Many financial businesses operate expensive processes to control the risk of privacy and data protection breaches.
When applied correctly, synthetic data for analytics eliminates the overall risk of a breach. Synthetic data represents a major mitigating factor in managing privacy risk. Detached from operational overheads, the marginal costs of analytics are reduced considerably, enabling companies to scale their analytical goals and accelerate innovation.

Synthetic data could enable further access to data across the finance industry by widening access to data assets with incumbents and new businesses. As reported by the FCA, data access on an individual basis is possible through consent processes, but developing new technologies requires broader access to large data sets.

A key barrier impacting the adoption of synthetic data relates to trust – questioning whether the data represents an accurate representation for generating valuable insights. There is an opportunity here for regulators to support and promote the integration of synthetic data through a transparent standardised framework. The FCA has shown an interest in possibly taking responsibility for being a synthetic data regulator to manage the potential challenges. Implementing an FCA-approved standard would enable businesses to take their data and create a synthetic dataset to apply to their projects. This approach would drive greater adoption of synthetic data, increasing trust in this information being representative, and regarding compliance, the risk is managed by ensuring synthetic data meets regulator-defined criteria.
Further collaboration with other regulators will also be critical to creating additional standards for producing synthetic data from a business’s information. Without this, wide-scale adoption would struggle as the investment to deliver specific synthetic datasets would require significant funding.

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Why AI should be at the core of delivering digital-focused financial regulation

June 8, 2022

Some industry experts consider data as the new oil. Just as it does for the finance industry, the rapid digitalisation of the economy comes with opportunities and challenges for financial regulators. On the positive side, new information is available, with vital insights into financial risks that regulators spend considerable time trying to understand. The abundance of data provides details on global money patterns, economic trends, onboarding decisions, noncompliance with regulations and many more critical subjects. More importantly, the data provides answers to regulators’ questions about the challenges of new technology. 

Thanks to digitalisation, regulators have the opportunity to collect and examine much more data and see more of it in real-time. The possibility for issues develops from the concern that regulators existing technology cannot harness the data. Ironically, this rise of new data is overwhelming for many companies. Without applying digital technology, the stream of new data financial regulators need to manage systems cannot be used appropriately. This challenge of managing the abundance of new data is where artificial intelligence can play an important role.

In 2019, Mark Carney, the Gov of the Bank of England, emphasised that financial regulators needed to integrate AI to maintain pace with the rising amount of data flowing into businesses. Carney highlighted that the bank received 65 billion pieces of data every year from companies it is responsible for, and examining all of this information would be overwhelming without supportive technology. In today’s world, the volume of data has only continued to increase, especially if you factor in other data sources generated from public records, news and social media channels.

AI emerged over 70 years ago, and for years AI experts predicted that it would change our lives significantly, but it has taken a long time before we have seen the impact of AI on our daily lives. It was only until recently that we discovered the signs of AI and how it could solve real-world problems. This discovery is down to having enough data available in a digitised format to justify using AI. Today, we have so much data available we can use AI, but in sectors such as finance, AI is becoming necessary to maintain pace. Financial regulators are beginning to explore how AI and similar technologies can improve their work. Businesses continue to test the potential of new technologies to monitor performance. This work is happening in the finance industry, particularly to enhance compliance systems.

Financial regulators worldwide have become more active in monitoring the use of AI rather than adopting it for their benefit. How can AI be used to improve areas of poor regulatory performance? One example has emerged from the war in Ukraine. The Russian invasion has triggered a new level of sanctions against Russian oligarchs attempting to hide their money. Financial institutions are obliged to monitor accounts and identify transactions by these sanctioned groups. If law enforcement agencies had applied AI-powered analytics to examine data from global transactions, they would be able to detect particular patterns within sanctioned groups. For the time being, however, most financial groups lack these resources. 

Another example relates to the millions of refugees and the issue of human trafficking. Banks are required to maintain anti-money laundering systems to detect and report the movement of money that could indicate human trafficking and other crimes, but many of these systems fail to be very effective. 

AI-powered compliance systems would be far more efficient at detecting these issues and significantly impact many challenges our planet faces.

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How AI is transforming the power of data in finance

October 21, 2021

AI can leverage a bank’s biggest asset: its data. This can provide traditional finance businesses with a new source of potential income.

It’s clear today and technology matters in the finance industry. The new emerging fintech displays the power of integrating technology with finance. It’s understood that some of the leading businesses such as Monzo and Revolut have succeeded in securing large numbers of customers predominantly because they were one of the first to automate the process of creating a bank account, replacing the traditional time-consuming way of setting up an account.

An automated process like this involves managing data, and as this becomes more advanced, it is often referred to as artificial intelligence (AI). Chatbots represent one of the most common forms of visible AI in finance. WeBank of China reports that nearly 98% of all customer enquiries can be managed via chatbots. Aside from the overall customer experience, AI can enhance finance systems, reduce costs and improve overall margins.

Data represents the biggest factor for conventional businesses to com[pete against fintech. Incumbents are gradually transforming in terms of data and digital technology. Their size and availability of resources provide traditional finance with a significant advantage over fintech and can allow them to catch up relatively fast.

Traditional finance businesses are investing rapidly in AI solutions, with banking scoring the highest of any industry for adopting AI, based on a recent study by GlobalData. The data incumbent finance businesses have gathered through their long years of building a customer base enables a relatively quick closing of the gap if applied with an AI strategy. Once this gap with fintech is closed, the new businesses may not have as clear a competitive edge as before. The Financial Times recently stated that the current performance of fintech banks during the pandemic suggests the concept that leading fintech companies can do anything conventional businesses can do better is diminishing. While fintech has had the initial advantage in terms of technology, it will need to continue innovating and enhance its product offering beyond its existing basic features.

Industry experts believe there is better technology available than apps. The digital-only platform, MyBank provides an example of how AI can generate new options for finance. By 2019 MyBank had launched the 3-1-0 model, a business loan that takes under three minutes to apply and less than a second to approve, with no human intervention required. When used in the right way, AI can reduce the time taken to make a loan approval and at the same time, ensure loans are more effective by lowering the non-performing loan ratios. Other businesses have applied their historical data from existing customers to develop a predictive model and determine the key variables that account for certain factors like missed repayments. Implementing this kind of process is not possible for new banks that lack past information.

Protecting finance data with AI

The more data acquired, the more responsibility you have. Finance data consists of some of the most private and sensitive information. It is therefore critical finance controls this data and AI delivers another layer of protection against potential cyber-attacks.

Several finance services businesses have incorporated machine learning into their security systems. Some have struggled to combat advanced cyber attacks with groups with access to their ML technology and managing their fraud detection rates, with high levels of false-positive alerts daily. Controlling false positives in financial security is a significant issue. Monzo, for example, has come under scrutiny for blocking customer accounts for extended periods because automated software has detected signs of potential criminal activity, and they lack the human staff to manage the backlog.

AI and deep learning systems have reduced this level of false positives and the overall level of fraud detection. These improvements have enabled the finance industry to focus more time on potential fraud, improving its security and enhancing the overall customer experience.

While there may be challenges and concerns with automation, the positives of giving more time to employees due to AI is valuable. In the scenario mentioned, fewer employees focusing on false positives means more satisfied customers and additional staff managing actual cases of fraud.

Whether referred to as fintech or banking, the case of managing money focuses on people and data. If data is handled effectively, people can create accounts, deposit and spend their money easily. When people apply for a loan, the process will determine that the right people are approved, and others declined, and there is transparency for both sides to understand their results.

The most effective data processes available today predominantly include AI technology, and this is the case for the finance industry.

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How AI is transforming the finance industry

June 9, 2021

People are beginning to adapt to AI at a steadily rising rate. It’s clear that modern technology is evolving rapidly and has had some impact on nearly everyone’s lives.

AI has become profoundly popular in multiple industries for a range of reasons. Improving efficiency, managing information, identifying trends in data are a few of the reasons why AI has grown so significantly in recent years.

The finance industry is a particularly important area that needs to be capable of adapting to meet the needs of their customers. The conventional ways of managing customers don’t necessarily work as well today. 

In the case of the finance industry, AI and Machine Learning have various applications. Chatbots, robotic process automation are good examples of AI applications in finance. Global studies have indicated that applying AI could save the finance industry over $440 billion by 2023. Many industry leaders are questioning how exactly AI can transform the finance industry and support the global economy.


Risk Assessment 

AI in finance is being utilised for maintaining important business records, in the case of finance, this could be information such as credit scores. Before customers are offered a credit card, a finance company will check multiple records, loans etc and use this data to adjust the interest rate applied to the card offers. 

This process is complex and involves multiple record checks but AI is capable of doing this work quickly by utilising data and then recommending the right product and interest rate for each customer. Human-based analysis may include errors that can result in potential costs to finance the business. AI memory is developed on Machine Learning, eliminating the margin of error.


Customer Support

Many finance businesses have launched chatbots on their websites. A chatbot managed and integrated by an AI development business is capable of interacting directly with customers and answering specific questions. This saves time and more importantly money for the business.


Detecting and Managing Fraud

The primary goal for most businesses is reducing risk, and this is particularly true in the world of finance. There has been a rising number of security breaches and scams in the finance industry and so customers are more cautious about their money. Many financial institutions have implemented AI services to detect cases of potential fraud. AI tools are capable of detecting fraud through analysis of one transaction activity. They can detect fraud by monitoring unusual transactions and location changes. With the support of AI, it is becoming more difficult for hackers and fraudsters to complete these activities.


Finance Advisory Services

Machines can apply bionic advisory tools which provide an efficient and accurate service, but industry experts believe a combination of these tools with the human mind generates the highest results. While these new technology tools can generate efficient results, they do require human intervention to generate the most success.


Financial Trading

Understanding future trends in finance are challenging and so many investment businesses use AI to generate a clearer understanding of future patterns. Machines are particularly useful in managing large volumes of data in a short period. They also can assess financial changes and detect certain flaws in a system and offer solutions. 

AI is continuing to make steady progress in the finance industry and judging by the pace of change, it will have a significant impact on the employee structure in certain roles in finance. Ultimately AI can greatly reduce the potential challenges in finance and lessen the potential of security breaches. Customers can be given better services, enhanced support and opportunities for smarter trading.

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New study suggests Financial leaders regard AI as key to future success

May 19, 2021

A new study from NTT suggests that over 80% of financial institutions believe AI is a vital part of differentiating their business, future success and generating new business. The study, however, indicates that only 16% of financial businesses use AI and data.

Senior financial leaders overwhelmingly agreed that the adoption of AI was a very important competitive driver of success over the coming years. While AI generates opportunities for creativity and further innovation, existing challenges are influencing the adoption of this technology. Implementing technology and requirements with organisational skills are considered particular challenges when considering AI services.

Since the pandemic, customer searches for digital finance solutions and applications has risen considerably. Today more than ever, financial institutions need to find a way to eliminate these barriers within AI to support customers and be capable of providing the support they need.

Customers display clear insights that they require banks to work as strategic partner on their financial decisions. AI offers a pathway to providing the services that customers are demanding. The data clearly shows that financial institutions need to focus on AI to meet the rapidly evolving needs of consumers, or potentially risk losing customers to their competitors. 

The main challenges for financial institutions to attract and retain customers involves using AI to offer a customer support channel to each customer, building further trust with customers, emerging competition from within the fintech industry, limited in-person customer engagement and a relatively slow rate of launching new products.

The majority of financial institutions view personalised services as an ideal opportunity to attract new customers. However, data shows that only 16% of financial businesses are using data to provide financial guidance to their customers.

The key drivers for financial businesses investing in personalised services are improving customer acquisition and retention, generating new revenue channels and improving customer connections. Financial institutions cite challenges with implementing AI because of the necessary changes needed to their business. This includes adjustments to their technology, skill changes, management support and creating a new business startup culture in an already established business.

The next stage in delivering the digital bank of the future is enabling a more comprehensive use of AI and other digital technologies to connect and engage each customer. Financial institutions worldwide need to focus on AI, big data analytics and processing power, as well as implement the necessary changes and strategic partnerships required to meet the expectations of their customers.

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