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Global Financial Services Industry Bullish Towards Disruptive Technology but Widescale Adoption Yet to Come

Almost two thirds (65%) of senior financial services industry decision-makers believe that so-called disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, blockchain and robotics will have a positive impact on their business in the future yet only a third (33%) say they are being deployed today.

Intertrust, a global leader in providing expert administrative services to clients operating and investing in the international business environment, interviewed over 500 executives covering the asset management, corporate, capital markets and private wealth sectors based in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia to identify the value-add delivered by new technologies now and in the future.

Instead of accelerating towards a technology-driven future, Intertrust’s study suggests the industry is taking a more measured approach; 65% of respondents believe disruptive technology will deliver the most value by driving back-end operational efficiencies, particularly in areas such as KYC reporting, due diligence and compliance.

Despite the transformational impact brought about by new technology on other sectors such as retail and media and the emergence of fintech disruptors, less than one in five (18%) of financial services professionals think it represents an existential risk to their business. 

However, seven in ten (69%) respondents believe think that the increased use of AI, blockchain and robotics will mean that accounting roles will either be replaced entirely or dramatically changed.  Operations (68%) and compliance roles (60%) are also likely to be replaced or heavily altered.

Of all the disruptive technologies, Artificial Intelligence will play the biggest role in revolutionising the financial services industry over the next five years, according to three-quarters (77%) of respondents, considerably ahead of blockchain (56%) and robotics (27%).   AI and its application through machine learning – computers that can learn through data – is being increasingly used to automate processes such as credit decision-making and customer interaction as well as help detect fraud, money laundering and even terrorist activity.

Capital markets-focused organisations such as investment banks are the furthest down the road in the financial services industry in adopting new disruptive technologies with over half (51%) saying that AI, blockchain and robotics are already being adopted compared to an average of 33% across all financial sectors and just 17% among those in the private wealth industry.

Stephanie Miller, Chief Executive Officer of Intertrust said: “With the hype surrounding disruptive technology in the financial sector it is easy to lose sight of reality.  The findings from this study suggests that while the industry is positive towards new technology such as AI, blockchain and robotics only a minority of firms are currently putting it to use and the speed of travel remains cautious. 

“At present, new technologies are seen to add most value to back-office operations and the threat they pose to existing business models is seen as very low.  However, the industry cannot afford to be too complacent as the pace of adoption is likely to accelerate dramatically in the coming years.  Once this happens, we will be able to spot the clear winners that have found new ways to apply disruptive technology and as a result stolen a march on the competition.”

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