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The Growing Impact Of AI In Financial Services

Ajwad Hashim, Vice President, Innovation and Emerging Technology, Barclays

It’s no secret that financial services are fast becoming a digital business. We call ourselves a technology company with a balance sheet and are heavily investing in the digital agenda. The need to be innovative, whilst being resilient and secure, is a core challenge we face as a financial institution to ensure we remain competitive throughout what can be described as a technological revolution.

One of the technologies that have become somewhat of a buzz word is Artificial Intelligence, and despite it being described as a mature technology, it is now being given more attention as a potential solution to existing issues.

The speed and extent of the transition are exceeding all our expectations. Artificial intelligence now drives the way leading firms provide everything from customer service to investment advice. Digital labour, or robotic process automation, is helping firms automate things they couldn’t do before, without having to hire an army of staff. And all of this enabled by cheaper storage, a wealth of data and more efficient powerful computing.

Barclays, as a trusted financial partner of millions of individuals, companies and governments across the globe, is facing a similar technological revolution that is changing the way we interact with technology. Our clients are demanding faster delivery, tailored products and competitive pricing; all whilst choosing to interact with us more digitally.

Across the bank, there are several initiatives and forums that have emerged to try to address these client needs. Technology domains and innovation committees across our retail and commercial businesses; product, operations and technology, are working to understand the impacts of new technologies and how our business models will change in the coming years.

Work is being done across traditional silos at an organisational and operational level, as the challenge to bring these together continues; working to enable and improve collaboration, communication, efficiency and swift agile delivery to create a truly innovative culture in the bank. There is still more to do, but the support for innovation has indeed been overwhelming from all levels of the organisation.

As one of those looking at Innovation and future technologies in the Corporate Bank, I have seen the huge advancements we have made in the past two years, moving from concepts to experimentation and implementation of emerging technologies, such as AI in the Corporate Bank. Over the last few years, we have experimented with Predictive Analytics to support our relationship teams, Natural Language Processing to service clients and Distributed Ledgers in Syndicated Debt, to name a few.

In my role, I have also seen an emergence in the number of startups and FinTech's with interest in applying data science to tackle large Corporate Banking processes. The sheer number of new companies is an indication of the value seen in the market to tackle such issues as well as the increasing demand by financial institutions for such solutions. This presents a huge opportunity as an incumbent bank to ensure we use the most advanced technology to retain and obtain clients, as we continue to build our brand as a technology company with a balance sheet.

I look forward to delving deeper into this topic, as well as continuing my work in supporting a more innovative and digital Corporate Bank.

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