20th May 2024

Better business. Better community

Business Industry and Financial

A.I. has already helped 36% of financial services execs reduce costs by 10% or more, says an expert at Nvidia

Good morning.

An expert at Nvidia, a chipmaker that recently reached a $1 trillion market cap, says that banks are all for artificial intelligence.

Many financial services professionals have reported seeing an upside to A.I. when it comes to customer experience, according to Nvidia’s 2023 State of A.I. in Financial Services report. They’re betting on the technology to more accurately assess risk and create operational efficiencies, in addition to reducing cost.

A survey of 500 global financial services professionals found that 36% decreased annual costs by more than 10% by using A.I. applications. And almost half (46%) said it has improved customer experience. Many of Nvidia’s financial services clients are operationalizing hundreds of A.I. projects, according to the report.

When it comes to implementing advanced artificial intelligence, “banks are already using generative A.I. for document extraction within insurance and mortgage documents, and search and retrieval from internal knowledge bases,” Kevin Levitt, Nvidia’s global industry business development director for financial services, tells me.

Training A.I. models

Nvidia’s research found that one of the obstacles for financial services firms to achieving A.I. goals is insufficient data sizes for model training. The recommendation is the use of generative A.I. to produce accurate synthetic financial data used to train A.I. models.

An example? “Generative A.I. can unlock new opportunities across the financial services industry,” Levitt explains. “It could be used in ‘Know Your Customer’ and anti-money laundering operations, as well as transaction fraud detection. Thieves constantly develop new techniques to steal identities and/or execute fraudulent transactions. But sample sizes for these new methods are small.”

He continues, “synthetic data from generative A.I. allows banks to create large sample sizes of these new threat patterns and can train models to detect them faster and more accurately. Ultimately, banks or credit card companies can create troves of accurate synthetic data to train A.I. models to be able to identify fraud in milliseconds. Because the data is synthetic, it also addresses concerns about data privacy, as well as regulatory and compliance guidance that prohibits certain data from being transferred outside of certain geographies or internally within companies.”

But it’s important to note that “financial firms will not rely on generative A.I. models trained on general internet data like most of today’s models,” he says. The firms will train their own foundation models using their own company data, allowing banks to build models that perform more accurately and deliver a more personalized experience to customers, Levitt says.

Most banks will want to have guardrails that prevent generative A.I. from engaging with inappropriate topics, and they’ll want to know if the data used to train the models contain any bias, he says. BloombergGPT, which was recently released and developed in collaboration with Nvidia, is an example of how financial firms will release company-specific generative A.I. platforms, Levitt says.

Does he think generative A.I. will eventually impact all bank functions? “Yes, generative A.I. does have the potential to impact virtually every function from underwriting, to risk assessment to customer service,” Levitt says. “A.I. models will be able to analyze thousands of data streams in real-time to glean market intelligence to create summarized research reports and deliver improved investment returns for investors and portfolio managers,” he says.

The future of tech in financial services sounds bright.


Sheryl Estrada
[email protected]

Big deal

An annual report by Datarails released today explores the sentiment of CFOs at small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) on the current state of finance departments. Almost half (48%) of SMB finance chiefs consider the economic challenges as the most extreme in their lifetime. Just 6% of CFOs say there won’t be a recession in 2023 while 52% single out rising interest rates as their biggest obstacle to company growth.

For their core finance “tech stack,” the CFOs increased spending to $54,000 per company in 2023. This is a 13.7% increase from 2022, reflecting the weighted average for a finance department of between 1 and 20 members, according to the report. Other key findings: 37% of CFOs say hiring a controller, the lead accountant in a business, responsible for a company’s books and records, is proving the hardest role to fill in the current environment. With a growing shortage of accountants, 13% of CFOs found hiring accounting recruits, in general, a challenge, with controllers being the most senior example.

And when it comes to A.I., less than a third (32%) of CFOs cite artificial intelligence or machine learning capabilities as a factor in their decision to select a new piece of software. The findings are based on a survey of 260 CFOs at U.S. companies with annual revenue between $3 million to $999 million.

Going deeper

It’s summer internship season. Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO David Solomon shared Tuesday on LinkedIn the letter of advice he sent the firm’s new interns. “Every year, I look forward to the start of the internship program because all of you bring a new and invigorating energy to our campuses around the world,” Solomon writes. “While your internship will last only several weeks—and you will be keen to make your mark in this short period—remember, this program is only the very beginning of your career. By comparison, this is my 39th year in financial services and my 24th at Goldman Sachs. As you think about what’s ahead, keep in mind that what matters most is that you learn as much as possible.” He offered three pieces of advice: be present, stay curious, and speak up. 

Leaderboard

Jonathan Lock was promoted to SVP and CFO at The Chemours Company, a global chemistry company, effective June 6. Lock succeeds Sameer Ralhan as CFO, who announced his intention to resign, effective June 19. Lock most recently served as SVP and chief development officer at Chemours. He joined the company in 2018 as VP of corporate development and investor relations and went on to have responsibility for M&A, corporate strategy, enterprise risk management, and more recently, sustainability.

Daniel Welch was named CFO at Kate Farms, which brings plant-based nutrition into health care. Welch joins Kate Farms from Oura Health, maker of the Oura Ring, where he was CFO. Before Oura, he led the corporate finance team at Sonos, Inc. Welch started his career in investment banking, and before Sonos, he was at Morgan Stanley, where he was a VP in the investment banking group.

Overheard

“A.I. is quite possibly the most important—and best—thing our civilization has ever created, certainly on par with electricity and microchips, and probably beyond those.”

—Marc Andreessen, cofounder and general partner of Andreessen Horowitz, wrote in a nearly 7,000-word manifesto on Tuesday. Andreessen expressed disdain for the “hysterical fear and paranoia” surrounding artificial intelligence technology, likening it to a “moral panic,” Fortune reported.

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