SAS, GARP survey: 81 per cent of risk professionals already seeing value of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming all industries, including financial services. A survey from analytics leader SAS and the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) showed that 81 per cent of risk professionals in the financial services industry have already seen benefits from AI technologies.

The key areas where respondents are reaping those returns include improved process automation (52 per cent), credit scoring (45 per cent) and data preparation (43 per cent). Around a third of respondents also reported seeing benefits from model validation, calibration and selection.

“At this point there’s little doubt that AI is here to stay, and that is no different for risk professionals and financial services firms,” said Mark Carey, Co-President at GARP. “While more than half of survey respondents described at least moderate knowledge of their firms’ current and planned use of AI, the survey suggests institutions are still very much exploring AI, with a lot of questions remaining.”

For those risk and financial service professionals who haven’t yet tried this fast-emerging technology, they plan to soon. According to the survey, of those not yet using any form of AI, 84 per cent plan to be using machine learning and natural language processing in the next three years.

Additionally, in the next three years, almost all respondents expect AI to improve their jobs at least somewhat. They anticipate AI will lead to higher productivity (96 per cent), faster time to gain insights from data (95 per cent) and more data insights for faster, better decisions (95 per cent).

Obstacles to AI adoption
Though respondents believe AI is and will continue to become embedded in their organisations, respondents also cited a skills gap to using AI. More than half (52 per cent) of respondents said they were at least somewhat concerned that their firms lack the necessary skills to implement and maintain AI.

They also listed many challenges to further adoption. A large majority of respondents said that among the biggest obstacles are data availability and quality (59 per cent), key stakeholders’ lack of understanding of AI (54 per cent) and interpretability of models (47 per cent).

“Financial services organisations are striving to compete in the new digital-driven marketplace,” said Lee Thorpe, Head of Risk Business Solutions at SAS UK & Ireland. “It is important for firms to bring together risk professionals and data scientists to examine well-defined, real-world problems that can be addressed with AI. Not every regulatory problem is compatible with an AI solution, but the regulators are taking interest so it’s important for risk professionals to understand what’s possible. We are seeing AI used to support regulated activities where approximation for rapid responses is appropriate or increased automation is required to achieve lower operating costs.”