OPINION: Will an AI Take Your Job?


Whether you call it artificial intelligence or straight through processing, advancements in technology will cost people their jobs.

In a recent white paper, titled How Cognitive Technologies are Transforming Capital Markets, published by McKinsey & Co., the authors estimate that AI-based automation will affect 60% of banks jobs and that 30% of those jobs are “technically automatable.”

The return on investment for firms makes adoption a no-brainer. McKinsey compared eight banks that had different levels AI and automation penetration and found that the banks with the highest level of digital trade execution witnessed revenue per front-office producer grew seven fold. And in the post-trade space, firms saw full-time equivalents processing four times the volume of trades than companies with the weakest penetration.

Artificial intelligence is the buzzword du jour, and too many people are using more as a marketing term than as a proper description of a wide variety of technologies.

If your managers have not been peppering their discussions with terms like robotic process automation, smart workflow, machine-learning, and cognitive agents, just wait for a bit. It is coming.

Robotic process automation is the new term for the old concept of straight through processing that handles data extraction and cleaning for the most part.

Smart workflows build upon RPA and integrate various processes and automatically route work results.

Machine learning relies on algorithms that consume vast quantities of data and then identify patterns within those data sets. The “learning” portion refers to how those algorithms learn and refine what those patterns are. The learning process can be unsupervised, where the developers wind up the AI and let it go, or supervised, where the developers look over the AI’s shoulder and help it refine its results quicker.

Cognitive agents? It just is a fancy term for chat bots like the automated customer service bots that are on the Web.

Years of algorithmic trading has already reduced the front office headcount significantly, but how will the same technology eliminate positions in the middle- and back office?

If your job relates to:

Trade Enrichment 1:3
Allocations 1:3
Confirmations 1:2
Settlement/Payments> 1:2
Reporting/Analysis 1:1
Collateral Valuation 1:1
Operational Risk/Controls 3:1

The only positions that seem to be the exception to complete automation are those that need to respond when things go off the rails.

Until AIs are capable of improving the next generation of AIs by themselves, there will need to be someone handling exception management.

As Star Trek’s Borg would say, “Prepare to be assimilated.”


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