By Eva Keogan
By Luuk Jacobs
By Jonathan Max
By Luuk Jacobs
By Andy Milner
As more asset managers acquire –or develop- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) solutions to maximise their alpha generation, market growth and operational cost reduction; it is clear that the industry needs to prepare to face the future challenges these solutions will bring when they become mainstream.
Are you prepared for AI implementation?
Do not miss out on this unique opportunity to discuss how AI will impact key business areas while creating greater opportunities for the asset management community.
By Luuk Jacobs
The event will be focused on data, operations, blockchain, compliance, legacy, regulation and AI.
European FundTech Lab London, Spring 2019
WWW.EVENTBRITE.COM Funds Europe in conjunction with Amundi Services, Calastone, Metrosoft, Milestone Group and Oracle will be hosting the fifth European FundTech Lab forum which will be taking place in London on Thursday, 16 May 2019...
By Luuk Jacobs
The FCA has now recognised the increased use of big data and AI across the Investment Management and banking value change. It is aiming to better understand the impact it has and will have, the benefits and harms and implications for regulation. One of their focus points in their 2019 Research agenda on the theme of technology, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) is the economics and ethics of this theme.
The economics of the use of big data and AI in general are already quite well understood. They have changed the way of doing business and generating value enormously. Industries have been and continue to be disrupted; examples like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Uber and even Microsoft have shown how the philosophy of platforms has moved us from single supplier mentality to open marketplaces. These places where producers and consumers come together in interactions that create value for both parties, whether it is peer to peer or direct to consumer and disrupt the existing status quo.
Platforms are not an entirely new phenomena as it has existed already in traditional open air market places around the world or for example in stock markets. What is new, is the addition of digital technology enabling platforms to enormously extend their reach, speed, convenience and efficiency.
I would argue that the real impact of big data and AI has not hit Investment Management yet. Yes, there is robo-advice providing digital financial advice based on mathematical rules or algorithms (examples like Nutmeg). The majority of them however have been struggling to make their platform economically viable and according to a Deloitte report robo-advisers would need around £6bn assets under management to generate enough revenues to cover their costs. Nevertheless, also Investment Management is at the start of using big data, blockchain/ Distributed ledger technology and natural language processing. The benefits are seen already in better informing (investment) decisions, driving operational efficiency and fraud prevention and compliance.
Arguably lesser known are the potential ethical impacts that will be associated with the use of these technologies while companies move from the traditional commercial yardsticks to include ethical and value-based decision making.
The established players like Facebook and Alphabet (through the accusations of distributing fake news), Uber (sexual harassment and leadership style), AirBnB (destroyed properties from their users), have and continue to show that the ability to embed ethical awareness and decision making across functions will emerge to be a key attribute of successful digital organisations. The Investment Management industry is to be warned.
Governments are stepping up (the FCA research agenda aims at looking at the implications on regulation) and, for example, GDPR is a first step. Nevertheless, the industry should not be waiting for governments and regulators to step in. I would argue that especially in an industry like Investment Management which is based on trust, companies that put ethics and morality front and centre of their organisation and especially with regards to big data and AI, are more likely to engender the trust of customers and differentiate themselves from competitors in the market.
So what are the ethical questions ‘big data and AI’ that should be asked?
Can artificial intelligence exacerbate, hide and create unintended biases? Do network effects reduce competition and, in turn, impact consumer choice? How can we be accountable for big data? How do we define big data? How do we adjust risk management frameworks? What are the benefits and, more importantly who will benefit and who might be at risk by this?
According to Charles Ellis, CFA, and chair of the Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts, the “biggest challenge” with regards to ethics for the investment management industry is to “find the pathway to reassert the dominance of the profession over the business”; an inherent conflict of interest in the Investment Management business as they are supposed to deliver financial performance both to their owners and their clients.
Regulation is in the end already in place and leaves little room for ambiguity ie to treat the clients in a fair and ethical way with the general principle to always put the clients’ interest first (AIFMD, UCITs IV and MiFID II).
It is up to the industry now to ensure that these principles are followed and embedded when using big data and AI. There is no magic pill for it yet, but the market shapers and early adopters will show how easy or difficult this might be.
By Luuk Jacobs
In the last week, after initial waving potential issues with the Boeing 737 Max, the have now worldwide be grounded until more is known about the cause of the crash of 2 of those planes in 5 months. Investigations have shown that the path before crash of the 2 planes were very similar and that there are potential underlying issues with the technology of the plane. Some have quoted that the technology has become too complex and is even not understood by pilot. In the specific case of the Boeing 737 Max the technology/system prevents the aircraft from pointing upwards at too high an angle, where it could lose its lift. However, according to filings with the US Aviation Safety Reporting System, which pilots use to disclose information anonymously, it appeared to force the nose down. Not being a pilot I assume this can only be corrected by human intervention.
So bringing this situation back to the use of Fintech in Investment Management (and yes we can only loose money and not lives), do we understand well enough Robo Advice, AI, Blockchain to fully rely upon. Are they becoming our automatic pilots and who in the case of a nose dive can intervene ?
Think of a scenario of some kind of financial crisis and the impact on index funds. Would the technology used to manage these funds just spiral them to the bottom when prices are going down and investors start pulling money out ? Is the temporary closure of such funds the human intervention of the automatic pilot ?
I would be interested to know from specialists in the field @Christopher New, @Paul Smillie, @Simon Cornwell, @Christian Thomas, @Mark Holmes, @Angela Lloyd-Jones, @Andy Milner
By Rob Carter
The UK is a hotbed of fintech activity, and it has not escaped the attention of investors worldwide. so what can we expect in 2018?
Last year, almost £3bn of venture capital found its way in to the UK’s tech sector, a record high and nearly double the figure for 2016. British fintech firms attracted almost four times more funding in 2017 than Germany, and more than France, Ireland and Sweden put together. This year promises to be even bigger, but what are the exciting developments driving those investment flows?
Here’s what to expect in 2018 across five key areas we’ve identified:
One of the most exciting developments to land in the UK financial sector is Open Banking. Under these new rules, which came in to force in January this year, banks must share their customers’ financial data with other FCA-authorised institutions, if customers request them to. This includes bank and credit card transactions and information about spending habits, for example. The aim is to improve competition in the marketplace and ultimately help consumers get a better deal. It should also foster much greater innovation, as new alliances are forged between traditional financial services firms and fintech startups. This is already starting to happen – First Direct has partnered with fintech firm Bud, Barclays is working with Flux, and NatWest has teamed up with FreeAgent. Banks are working hard in-house too: HSBC, for example, has launched a beta app which will allow customers to see all their accounts on one screen, even those from rival providers. Expect more innovation and unlikely partnerships in the banking sector this year.
Wealthtech refers to the specific type of fintech which is used to solve problems and improve user experience in the wealth management and investing world. The definition includes robo-advisers like Nutmeg and Wealthify, as well as micro-investment services and digital brokers. They focus on the under-served mass market of people who would like to invest but only have small savings pots to play with, or who perhaps can’t afford financial advice or wouldn’t be economically viable clients for traditional financial advisers to take on. Robo-advice and micro-investing tools help to democratise investing and make it accessible to a much wider consumer base. Although some of these companies may take time to become profitable, the assets they manage are set to grow rapidly. Deloitte estimates the $2 billion in assets under automated management globally today may grow to as much as $7 trillion by the year 2025.
So strong has been the hype around cryptocurrencies that some listed companies in totally unrelated sectors have linked themselves to the space by changing their names or the focus of their businesses. Just adding the word ‘blockchain’ in somewhere has proven enough to send their share prices soaring (see Long Island Iced Tea Corp, now called Long Blockchain). But there may already be signs that the bubble could burst – highly volatile Bitcoin has fallen a long way from its lofty highs, and there is a regulatory threat from financial watchdogs globally following a crackdown by South Korea. There could be interesting developments to come in cryptocurrencies this year as companies navigate the new landscape.
Regtech refers to the use of technology to help financial services firms better comply with regulation. It’s been dubbed ‘the new fintech’ and it is a fast-growing area. Regtech businesses help other firms to meeting their reporting and compliance obligations, monitor transactions, and manage risk. Firms like Funds-Axis, DueDil, and Silverfinch are part of this growing movement. Deloitte says: “RegTech has a very bright future, with a huge amount of opportunity for those developing this type of technology to automate and enable the world of regulatory assessment and control management, bringing clarity and control to an area of the business that is so incredibly important, but so often cumbersome and time-consuming.” With the Financial Services industry under more regulatory pressure than ever and drowning in legislation, Regtech should be a fascinating area to watch.
When you think of AI, you might think of chatbots being used to replace customer service people, or voice command technology like Amazon Alexa. But the applications of AI in fintech go much further. It can be used to spot suspicious transactions and cybersecurity threats, or predict consumer behaviour and make more accurate predictions based on these insights – for example, whether someone will be a future credit risk. Machine learning can be used to create a customised investment portfolio based on someone’s personal interests and preferences, updating it as their preferences change over time. The possibilities are endless, and who knows how the FS industry could change when AI reaches its full potential?
As always, only time will tell when it comes to forecasting the future but one thing is sure, the UK fintech market is thriving now and will continue do so for a long time.