Francesca CCO at Axyon AI
Since the outset of the pandemic, the global economy has experienced much uncertainty. Although many people expected this year to be another good year for the stock market as the world economy continues recovering from the crisis, fears over the recent developments of the Omicron variant, together with unclear messages from central banks, have caused more instability. This market volatility presents fund managers with significant operational and performance-related challenges and a potential retention issue in the face of further volatility due to new variants and unexpected developments. So, how can AI and machine learning help investors prepare for this volatility and demonstrate resilience to their clients?
AI’s transformative role for asset management firms
Ultimately, AI and machine learning enable fund and asset managers to gain valuable time to adjust risk and protect investments with the intrinsic value of predictive analytics. It can also help businesses navigate challenging conditions by detecting anomalies in the market before any crisis occurs. By implementing AI, fund and asset managers can also monetise data and improve automation from the front to the back office.
AI vs. traditional models
While nobody can predict the unpredictable, market disruption is often on the cards. Many investors have lost confidence in asset managers who managed portfolios using traditional quantitative models, as they struggled to keep up with volatile market conditions. As such, funds need to find a way to better mitigate the risks with powerful predictive analytics of fast-moving markets and avoid losing investor confidence. In today’s world, relying on traditional portfolio management models when a market crisis occurs can result in the investments becoming severely impaired and can push a large amount of chaotic data into quantitative models. Therefore, asset managers need a system that can account for volatility and manage expectations more accurately.
Traditional portfolio models are built around strong assumptions on the behaviour of underlying assets, measuring normal distribution patterns on linear scales. As a result, they find it difficult to cope with the flood of chaotic data into their systems caused by high levels of volatility and fund managers’ ability to accurately analyse and predict where the market would go next and navigate through the crisis was significantly limited. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent volatility, businesses with these models have had their limitations exposed.
Advanced AI systems are unrivalled from portfolio management to risk management for example detecting anomalies in the market. AI models can handle large and chaotic sets of data learning from the past the actual relationship among variables. Moreover, the application of advanced analytics to these data sets may also provide more real-time insight into the risks related to these shocks for the stock market.
Unlike these traditional models, AI systems are completely agnostic about markets and their associated risks, meaning that they can be trained to sound the alarm when the structure in the data is anomalous, and therefore could be a sign of an upcoming unpredictable event. These AI-powered tools can be also used to read the reality of the situation at hand, without any pre-ordered rules.
By strengthening a model against chaotic data, AI allows fund managers to see non-linear, complex patterns in asset behaviours that can be captured, and make market view predictions at a higher level, no matter how changeable conditions become.
Turning Point: The pandemic as an opportunity for change
The pandemic is still an opportunity for new technologies to prove their merits and show that AI and machine learning can offer a better way to use data and quickly adapt to the ever-changing ‘new normal’. By modelling the potential repercussions of major geopolitical, financial, or environmental events, businesses will be better placed to adapt, reposition, and overcome the obstacles the pandemic presents.
We have seen that investment in technology and data infrastructure is working its way up asset managers’ agendas, and AI and machine learning has by no means reached its limits. Advancements in technology will mean improvements to business performance will continue, and due to the wealth of data already stored in most financial institutions, there is great potential to build on the success of previous solutions. Businesses who are late to harness the superior analytical power of AI will likely find themselves trailing behind the competition. Implementing these innovative machine learning technologies will undoubtedly be a powerful solution to the problem of meeting and exceeding investors’ expectations of mitigated risk and higher returns.
Cloud technology in banking: Why adoption is on the rise
Alpesh Tailor, Executive Director at digital transformation specialist GFT
The banking sector has never shied away from innovation, whether it is new products to improve customer savings habits or new ways of interacting with people and business, but embracing new technologies such as cloud has, until recently, been relatively slow. However, leading global financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank have accelerated their adoption of cloud, which can provide insights for efficient technology transformation across the sector.
We conducted research to measure 21 medium-size and large banks’ sentiment and operations regarding cloud technology. Examining the relationship between cloud technology and banking professionals, our research provides an insight into the overall finance sector’s perception of cloud technology and how its application can improve banking procedures and efficiency.
A significant trend showed that the way people use their finances and banking systems has changed, particularly when it comes to payments and transfers. Our research revealed that 86% of bankers have adopted cloud services to harness its virtually unlimited scalability, citing a definitive change in transaction behaviour as the main reason for moving to the cloud.
In the world of retail banking, buy-now-pay-later, open banking, and contactless payment systems have revolutionised the way people use their bank, making financial management easier and more efficient. However, despite these evolutions, high street banks are playing catch-up to the challenger banks who possess fewer legacy processes and, therefore, an easier migration to new technologies, such as the full utilisation of cloud and artificial intelligence.
The cloud provides a dependable, scalable, and flexible data system that allows traditional banks to modernise quickly and stay abreast of the innovations that ‘born-in-the-cloud’ challenger banks are bringing to the market. An increasingly popular way of doing this is by adopting a hybrid and multicloud approach.
Most organisations are considering diversifying their cloud technology, with 76% of bankers now agreeing with the importance of implementing multicloud systems in order to benefit from resilience and security improvements made by the main cloud providers. These cloud ‘hyperscalers’ also provide regular updates and continue to release exclusive new services and platforms as they continue to innovate.
Our research indicates that cost optimisation is a primary reason that banks are looking toward the cloud for their future storage needs, with 81% of bankers confirming they have adopted cloud technology to save costs.
Installing and maintaining on-premise IT systems is lengthy and costly for financial institutions. When using the cloud, however, purchasing and installing hardware is no longer required as the cloud service provider hosts all the required infrastructure. The management of the hardware is included within this, reducing the overall cost of IT support further.
Technological innovations are usually heralded for their ability to streamline operations, making them quicker and more secure. Our research illustrates that 62% of bankers believe organisational culture and inertia to be a key challenge within the sector. Besides being flexible for scalability and cost, adopting cloud technology can bolster organisational efficiency, since banks can spend fewer resources managing the relationship between trading volumes and payment infrastructure. Bankers acknowledge this opportunity, with 95% of organisations understanding that cloud technology can reduce time-to-market.
Overcoming misconceptions with cloud technology
Misconceptions usually exist around any emerging technology and our research found that this theme continues with cloud technology.
43% of the bankers we spoke to admitted that security concerns have impeded full cloud migration – a concern that has frequently been confirmed when speaking to financial services institutions. However, cloud providers invest heavily in the security of their cloud infrastructure which, as a result, makes it almost always safer than its on-premise, client-owned counterpart.
One aspect of adopting the cloud that continues to cause concern, is that which is commonly termed the ‘digital skills gap’. More than half of banks claim a lack of cloud-savvy employees internally has slowed down adoption. At GFT, we understand that this is a major issue for the adoption of cloud technology in all sectors, including banking, and have committed to training and encouraging young people to learn the required skills and enter the sector. We recently launched our Manchester Innovation Hub – a dedicated location to support the upskilling and growth of tech roles in the north.
Going forwards, cloud technology is the primary option for banks seeking to evolve and scale their business, whilst minimising risk, time and cost. Bankers recognise these benefits and the overall findings of our research suggest they will continue to grow their investment in cloud technology. Whilst evolving traditional legacy systems is very challenging, cloud technology continues to advance and we believe that over time it will become a powerful mainstay within the financial services industry.
A Smarter World: What role will electronics play in 2022
There has been a sharp increase in technology and devices designed to make our lives simpler, faster and more productive in recent years.
Industry 4.0 is taking the digital revolution of the late 1900s one step further, combining cyber-physical systems with the power of the internet of things (IoT) to automate computerised decision-making and enhance efficiency. As a result, intelligent technology has surpassed the simple tools and gadgets people enjoy using every day; it has become a driving force for innovation and problem-solving for businesses worldwide.
The first generation of ‘smart’ technology products provided enhanced connectivity, allowing people to stream video on smart televisions or communicate wirelessly between devices. But with the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), our devices do more than simply talk to each other; they collect and interpret data to inform user experience and automate processes that would typically require human guidance.
From watches to phones, building controls to medical equipment, we are heading towards a ‘smarter’ world at lightning speed. So, in 2022 and beyond, technology will continue to evolve and improve its capabilities to deliver personalised, mechanised solutions that will optimise functions and enhance our day-to-day lives.
How will smart tech change our way of life?
The pandemic has significantly impacted global technology trends, with lockdowns contributing to heightened activity within the consumer electronics industry.
The demand for games consoles, smart televisions and other entertainment devices led to an 18% increase in the global consumer electronics market (excluding North America) in the first half of 2021, reflecting pandemic-related behavioural changes and consumers’ growing expectations for premium electronics. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, the public is also more conscious of their health and the limitations of our health services than ever before. Wearable technology such as smartwatches — which can remotely monitor and record physical health data — is, thus, becoming increasingly appealing.
As more and more businesses embrace remote working models, employees are enhancing their homes with innovative home technology, too. Demand for devices such as mobile stereo headsets and headphones spiked in the wake of lockdowns. Organisations are also embarking on digital transformation to secure online networks and optimise energy efficiency in modern offices.
The future of the electric vehicle market also looks bright. With governments facing global pressure to reduce carbon emissions, major automotive manufactures like Bentley, Volkswagen and Audi have pledged to cut fossil fuel cars from their product portfolios by 2030. And despite the pandemic-related semiconductor shortage that crippled the automotive industry, UK electric vehicle sales jumped 186% in 2020.
How will the electronics industry meet demands?
In a digital world, technology is embedded in everyday objects, and ubiquitous computing connects devices through continuous networks of sensors and servers — all of which must be carefully designed and produced by electronics manufacturers. As a result, the future of electrical engineering will depend on the industry’s ability to address the technical and logistical considerations for delivering these advanced systems and equipment.
From smart grids to intelligent lighting, IoT has the potential to revolutionise the way we live. With technology permeating so much of our lives already, local governments are investing in ‘smart cities’ that will harness data collected through the IoT and cloud-based technology to tackle social issues and improve urban life, sustainability and transport. However, the IoT will also be essential to developing new electronics.
Brexit, the pandemic and labour shortages have impacted supply chains and threatened to stunt the industry’s ability to keep up with ever-increasing demand. But embracing IoT can streamline processes, provide accurate real-time data to mitigate supply chain disruption and improve the overall quality of printed circuit boards (PCBs) and other core components within electronics. Plus, as sustainability is a core focus for businesses across sectors in 2022, developments in AI and ML will be crucial to ensuring systems are operating with the minimum energy output.
From remotely controlled wire cutters to industrial robotics performing monotonous tasks in factories, investing in robotics will also be crucial for electronics manufacturing services providers. While the industry focuses on training the next generation of engineers, adopting robotics will reduce the likelihood of human error that might affect manufacturers’ abilities to continue delivering high-quality electronics products at scale.
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