Challenges for investment banks 2017 (Part 3): Turning Automation Into Intelligence

Beat Monnerat, Senior Managing Director of Financial Services for Asia Pacific; Owen Jelf, Senior Managing Director for Capital Markets; Accenture

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

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As technologies advance, investment banks will find that they compete not only for human expertise, but the best artificial intelligence as well.

Artificial intelligence is far more than simply automating -- it is the key to turning the flood of information available today into a wealth of usable insights to help better run our businesses and drive growth. The most significant advances in artificial intelligence technologies include cognitive computing, natural language processing and digital recognition, with companies like Amazon and Google launching intelligent personal assistants for consumer use.  

But for financial institutions, artificial intelligence needs to extend beyond deploying analytics, natural language processing or machine learning systems in isolation. The artificial intelligence needle really begins to move when companies incorporate it as an essential component of every business process. Artificial intelligence could help drive growth in two essential ways: intelligent automation and a hybrid workforce.

Intelligent automation
As many banks refocus on a more client-centric approach to delivering value, they typically move away from product silos to a more advice-oriented approach. This strategy, along with clients' increased desire to self-serve digitally, could require automation with sufficient intelligence for increased agility, speed and scale. For instance, select asset managers are harnessing computer-science based, machine learning capabilities, using artificial intelligence to study  analyst reports and identify factors affecting share prices. That arms their client-facing people with a powerful resource.

Hybrid workforce
We forecast that the future virtual workforce within investment banks will likely be comprised of a suite of technologies, including basic robotics process automation, cognitive computing and natural language processing. Not only could this workforce provide cost savings, it would allow its human counterparts to focus on roles that add the most value- intelligent roles, from innovation to client relations. The probable end result is really a hybrid workforce-part human, part machine-that unleashes each element to do its best work.

Insurance companies have already used artificial intelligence to help underwriters better price risk, and one major insurance company has developed an artificial intelligence-based method to assess auto damage from photos taken after an accident.

Because artificial intelligence is uniquely suited to predictive modeling, using machine learning to build a historical database of knowledge to pull from, it beats humans in this category. Mass-market wealth management clients are already benefiting from artificial intelligence agents in this manner. Online automated investment advisor Wealthfront tracks account activity and automatically applies that behavior to advise each individual client.

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