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Use of AI becomes new norm in financial firms, survey shows

Ninety per cent of financial firms are using machine learning and all C-suite respondents said it is a core part of their business strategy, according to a new global survey of 450 professionals.

Use of AI becomes new norm in financial firms, survey shows
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  • Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
  • April 12, 2019
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The use of machine learning is pervasive across the financial community and is critical to its success in the future, a survey by Refinitiv found.

Despite the fact that 90 per cent of financial firms are use machine learning, either in multiple areas as a core part of their business (46 per cent) or in pockets (44 per cent), respondents acknowledged that poor-quality data impedes their ability to fully leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence technology. 

A total of 43 per cent of surveyed C-level executives and data scientists cited this as the biggest barrier to adoption, followed by a lack of data availability (38 per cent).

Despite being a technology area that’s seen a recent ‘war for talent’, challenges around data quality were ranked ahead of access to talent, which was highlighted by a third of the respondents, the survey showed.

"Machine learning and artificial intelligence are often described as emerging technologies, but the fact is they are already being widely applied across financial services," said Tim Baker, global head of applied innovation at Refinitiv. 

He acknowledged that, whether it is an increasingly complex regulatory environment, the need to find new sources of alpha, or winning the fight against financial crime, the industry is turning to data and technology, and "data scientists are increasingly important as the alchemists charged with turning big data into insight".

"We see a future of accelerating innovation fuelled by wider availability of powerful cloud-based artificial intelligence and machine learning tools dramatically lowering entry barriers and thus changing the competitive dynamic across the industry. But no financial institution will be able to use the technology successfully unless the underlying data is machine ready," Mr Baker said.

The research was based on in-depth interviews with nearly 450 financial professionals across Asia (170), Europe (161) and North America (116).

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