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More than half of financial services firms lack the skills needed to implement AI

27 Feb 2019
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Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming all industries, including financial services. A survey from analytics leader SAS and the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) showed that 81 per cent of risk professionals in the financial services industry have already seen benefits from AI technologies.

The top areas where respondents are reaping those returns include improved process automation (52 per cent), credit scoring (45 per cent) and data preparation (43 per cent). Around one-third of respondents also reported seeing benefits from model validation, calibration and selection.

GARP co-president Mark Carey says, “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.

“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.”

For those risk and financial service professionals who haven’t yet tried this fast-emerging technology, they plan to soon. According to the survey, of those not yet using any form of AI, 84 per cent plan to be using machine learning and natural language processing in the next three years.

Additionally, in the next three years, almost all respondents expect AI to improve their jobs at least somewhat. They anticipate AI will lead to higher productivity (96 per cent), faster time to gain insights from data (95 per cent) and more data insights for faster, better decisions (95 per cent).

Obstacles to AI adoption

Though respondents believe AI is and will continue to become embedded in their organisations, respondents also cited a skills gap to using AI. More than half (52 per cent) of respondents said they were at least somewhat concerned that their firms lack the necessary skills to implement and maintain AI.

They also listed many challenges to further adoption. A large majority of respondents said that among the biggest obstacles are data availability and quality (59 per cent), key stakeholders’ lack of understanding of AI (54 per cent) and interpretability of models (47 per cent).

Troy Haines SAS SVP says, “Financial services organisations are striving to compete in the new AI-driven marketplace. 

“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.”

For the complete survey findings, download the full report, Artificial Intelligence in Banking and Risk Management: Keeping Pace and Reaping Benefits in a New Age of Analytics.