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Data quality key issue to deployment of AI, ML and RPA projects in capital markets

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Broadridge Financial Solutions has released the results of a survey into the progress and challenges associated with artificial intelligence (AI), which includes machine learning (ML) and robotics process automation (RPA), across the capital markets industry.

An overwhelming majority (80 per cent) of respondents, are at least assessing the value of AI, ML or RPA initiatives, according to the survey of about 200 financial services professionals conducted at SIFMA’s Operations Conference & Exhibition in May. More than one-third (39 per cent) of respondents are in proof of concept or pilot stages; however, only 22 per cent are actually in production. They indicated that data-specific challenges are preventing their firms from taking advantage of AI’s potential benefits.
 
With most respondents at least assessing AI’s potential for their business, the majority of survey respondents (53 per cent) cited “data quality and standardisation” as one of their top challenges to deploying AI; moreover, 40 per cent see the availability of data as an obstacle. This was followed by business justification (40 per cent) and the cost of implementation (38 per cent).
 
Interestingly, nearly all respondents (96 per cent) recognised that co-developing key AI processes with other firms or vendors presents benefits such as the shared cost of innovation.  
 
“AI has the power to completely transform financial services, however many capital markets firms struggle to make a business case for the investment in AI, especially since their data is decentralised,” says Mike Alexander, President of North America Wealth and Capital Markets Solutions. “By leveraging a consistent data fabric across a network of firms and mutualising innovation investment with a strategic partner, firms can truly realise the value of AI and create a competitive advantage with next generation technologies.”
 
As more firms pursue AI implementation, questions are surfacing about how digital labour will impact headcounts and job security. Contrary to some predictions, one-third (32 per cent) of Broadridge’s survey respondents predict that AI will reduce their organisation’s need for human labour by just 10 per cent or less in the next three years, suggesting that there is not a huge fear of job loss due to AI.  Fewer than five per cent of respondents anticipate AI reducing human labour by 50 per cent or more in the same timeframe.
 
Survey respondents were asked about their vision for the future of AI, gauging their sentiment towards the technology’s future by likening its capabilities to one of the three popular movies. Results were mixed but skewed positive. Nearly half (46 per cent) of respondents declared that the movie “Transformers” (likened to a combination of “good” and “bad” AI) was the best representation of the future of AI and about one-third selected “Star Wars” (AI as a friendly or additive tool). For the same question, less than one-fifth of the survey pool selected “The Terminator” to indicate that AI is or will become “dangerous.”
 
The survey of 197 representatives of asset managers, banks, broker-dealers, consultancies, industry regulators, technology vendors, wealth managers and others was conducted at SIFMA’s 2018 Operations Conference & Exhibition in Phoenix on 8-9 May 2018.

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