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Artificial intelligence will wipe out half the banking jobs in a decade
Source: Kevin Smith

Advances in artificial intelligence and automation could replace as many as half the nation’s financial services workers over the next decade, industry experts say, but it’s going to take a big investment to make that happen.

James D’Arezzo, CEO of Glendale-based Condusiv Technologies, says that’s where things are headed. And the process will be complicated.

“Unless banks deal with the performance issues that AI will cause for ultra-large databases, they will not be able to take the money gained by eliminating positions and spend it on the new services and products they will need in order to stay competitive,” he said.

Intensive hardware upgrades are often cited as an answer to the problem, but D’Arezzo said that’s prohibitively expensive. He cited a recent announcement from the Tokyo Institute of Technology Global Scientific and Computing Center as an example.

The center is developing a supercomputer to meet the demands of artificial intelligence and big data applications. But existing supercomputers tend to cost anywhere from $50 million to several hundred million dollars, he said, which negates the cost-reduction advantages of AI technology.

But technical issues aside, senior banking executives increasingly agree on the inevitability of artificial intelligence-based services — and the job losses they will create.
“It is going to happen”

Speaking to an audience last year in Frankfurt, Germany, Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan predicted a “bonfire” of industry jobs as automation moves forward.

“In our bank we have people doing work like robots,” he said. “Tomorrow we will have robots behaving like people. It doesn’t matter if we as a bank will participate in these changes or not, it is going to happen.”

Increased processing power, cloud storage and other developments are making many tasks possible that once were considered too complex for automation, according to Cryan.

D’Arezzo, whose company works to improve existing software performance, said the financial industry is being swamped by “a tsunami of data,” including new compliance requirements for customer privacy and constantly changing bank regulations.

“It’s an explosion of data, and then you have AI on the other side which increases that information load,” he said. “This puts a major stress on the ability of the financial industry to process all of that data. That industry is spending more on IT than any other industry, including healthcare and manufacturing.”

D’Arezzo said many jobs will inevitably disappear.

“On the service side of AI, you can get right down to the irate customer who wants to know about a deposit, although you’ll still have to get a person involved to handle that if it gets more complex,” he said. “But we’ll shave off that top percentage — 10 to 20 percent of the mechanical and rote issues that come up.”
Services AI could replace

Potential uses for AI technology include automated customer support, fraud detection, claims management, insurance management, automated virtual financial assistants, predictive analysis in financial services and wealth management services offered to lower-net-worth customers.

“It’s like anything else — the prediction statement could be a little overblown,” D’Arezzo said. “Back when we were kids we thought we’d all be driving flying cars by now. The pace of adoption in the financial sector will happen fairly soon, but it will be a full decade before we see some significant change.”
The human factor

Bhagwan Chowdhry, a professor of finance and economics at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, said the future may not be as bleak as some think.

“Technology will eliminate some jobs that are repetitive and require less human judgment,” he said, ” But I think they will get replaced by other jobs that humans are better at. Anything that requires judgment is something humans will continue to do. We are not good at multiplying 16-digit numbers, but we’re good at judging people and detecting if someone is telling the truth.”


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