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Wednesday, 27 February 2019 22:16

81% of finance and risk professionals see value of AI, but over 50% underskilled

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A survey from analytics software firm SAS and the Global Association of Risk Professionals has found 81% of risk professionals already see the value of artificial intelligence while more than half the surveyed firms feel they lack the skills needed to implement or maintain it.

Respondents are attaining rewards through leveraging AI in improved process automation (52%), credit scoring (45%) and data preparation (43%). Around one third also saw benefits from model validation, calibration and selection.

The survey found 84% of risk and financial professionals who have not yet tried AI plan to do so within the next three years.

Almost all expect AI to improve their jobs, with 96% foreseeing higher productivity, 95% faster time to gain insights from data, and 95% also more data insights for faster, better decisions.

“At this point, there’s little doubt that AI is here to stay, and that is no different for risk professionals and financial services firms,” said Mark Carey, co-president at GARP. “While more than half of survey respondents described at least moderate knowledge of their firms’ current and planned use of AI, the survey suggests institutions are still very much exploring AI, with a lot of questions remaining.”

Despite the positive view of the potential for AI, 52% of respondents said they were at least somewhat concerned their firms lacked the necessary skills to implement and maintain it.

The main obstacles were seen as data availability and quality (59%), key stakeholders’ lack of understanding (54%) and interpretability of models (47%).

“Financial services organisations are striving to compete in the new AI-driven marketplace,” said Troy Haines, senior vice-president and head of the risk management division at SAS. “It is important for firms to bring together risk professionals and data scientists to examine well-defined, real-world problems that can be addressed with AI.

"Not every problem requires an AI solution, but it is important for risk professionals to be knowledgeable of the available technologies, so they can choose the best option to address their challenges.”

The survey was carried out in December 2018 and canvassed views from more than 2000 representatives of the financial services industry including banking, investment banking/securities, and wealth/asset management. The survey was specifically targeted at those with a risk-related role. The survey included machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, forecasting and optimisation as AI.

The complete survey report is available for download, Artificial Intelligence in Banking and Risk Management: Keeping Pace and Reaping Benefits in a New Age of Analytics.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.