Efforts to adopt artificial intelligence within the financial industry must primarily focus on generating growth and enhancing human productivity, not making a quick profit by cutting costs, says Clara Durodié, who has over a decade of experience advising financial services firms on AI.
She believes we need to keep the human in the loop and upskill them. “The idea that we bring AI and we’re going to get rid of 90% of our staff to cut costs… I wouldn’t recommend it.” According to her, firms should instead deploy AI with a view to increasing profitability through business growth. “Your primary objective is growth through scalability of your business model and your business strategy; and AI can absolutely deliver that.”
The winners in adoption of this technology will be those who understand that growth comes first
Durodié says the finance industry has a major responsibility to invest in technology that not only generates a return on investment, but allows humans to thrive. She believes the firms that will ultimately benefit from AI are those who put the customer first. “We are in the business of trust. The winners in adoption of this technology will be those who understand that growth comes first, and technology is an enabler of that.”
An acclaimed author and academic, Durodié started her career in the financial industry, working for an asset manager in Luxembourg before quitting her job to pursue a career in AI. After resigning, Durodié dedicated an entire year to learning Python, a high-level programming language that is central to AI, before starting her UK-based research company and advising clients on AI.
Don’t rely on technology
She believes adopting the latest technology doesn’t always lead to better outcomes. For example, she says retail banks in the UK “got it so wrong” when--in an effort to save millions of pounds in costs--they closed down thousands of bank branches, forcing customers to engage with chatbots instead of bank locally. Neobanks, such as Starling and Monzo, were able to capitalise on customers’ exasperation with their bank and offer a better service, Durodié says.
She warns against the potential unintended consequences of AI that could arise if the technology is misused, adding that it could suppress peoples’ civil liberties and destabilise democracy. “One thing I know is that if we invest in technology that will destabilise our core value democratic values, we’re not going to have a business to run.” She says we have a responsibility to invest in AI with the view that this technology will impact our children.
Durodié says firms must be very careful about how they manage their client data. She says the viciousness of cybersecurity reported since March this year had gone “through the roof” because of autonomous AI agents’ ability to attack our encryption and systems. Durodié says the only way banks and asset managers can protect themselves from cyberattacks is to “fight fire with fire” and themselves invest in autonomous AI agents that can detect AI-generated cyber-attacks.
Clara Durodié is a keynote speaker at this year’s Finance 100 Awards on Tuesday 21 November. Visit the awards website for more information.