professional freelance editor and content strategist

B2B content for executive recruiter for finance and tech companies. Client expressed that hiring organizations and talent are worried about artificial intelligence taking their jobs.

How to make artificial intelligence in finance and banking into a high-level opportunity

Executives in finance and banking, as well as companies hiring in those industries, are right to be concerned about the rise of automation on Wall Street. The question isn’t whether the tech disruption of Wall Street will continue, because it’s already well established. Instead, the better value is in asking how to identify executives who will guide companies forward through this change. While some areas will continue to lose jobs to automation, high-level roles will be protected, and savvy leaders will know how to incorporate new technologies to strengthen their mid-level teams and reduce risk.

Sophisticated clients will always need professional advice and services that artificial intelligence (AI) can’t provide. However, automation is clearly already threatening entry-level jobs, with services like robo advisors becoming more common. The Harvard Business Review identified floor trading, regulatory compliance, data analysis and low-level investment advice as most at risk of being replaced by AI. In all industries the entry-level jobs in customer service, marketing and sales are also seeing a shift to using automated computer systems in place of human workers.

At the same time, the benefits of AI are becoming clear, especially where there is a heavy need for monitoring and compliance. Using a data-centric approach, instead of hiring more people in compliance roles, will provide greater security and at a lower cost than the more error-prone human analysts. These changes are well underway because algorithms are better at monitoring patterns and creating alerts of irregular behavior. The regulatory subfield of financial technology, called regtech, is one area where AI eclipses workers in providing critical, consistent information which can be used for decision making at higher levels.

While this may sound like a significant change, keep in mind that many jobs, including data collection and analysis, were already moved overseas to low-wage countries. If a job can be moved offshore, the next step is utilizing AI. From this perspective, automation offers greater control and reliability in areas that were already undergoing significant shifts. But, is it possible that automation can creep up the ladder, removing the need for mid-level roles?

Companies will need to rethink all roles to ensure human talents are being correctly utilized. In a special report The Economist states, “what determines vulnerability to automation, experts say, is not so much whether the work concerned is manual or white-collar but whether or not it is routine.” This vulnerability exists for junior and mid-level analysts and associates. However, instead of fearing automation, another way to look at this is to consider that repetitive tasks might be a waste of human potential. By handling these tasks, AI can become a valuable assistant.

If mid-level roles are restructured to reap the benefits of automation, human brainpower can be freed up for more skilled activities. While a computer does the task of crunching numbers, analysts will be able to give more time to mentally demanding work. Companies should emphasize how passing on some of the more tedious routines to computers will allow mid-level people to be focused and innovative.

For managers of these teams, this could mean a new window of productivity. When coaching mid-level employees through this transition, companies will need leaders who can consider not only what parts of the job can be done by computers, but how that will allow humans to focus on other areas. For those anxious about the changes automation will bring to finance and banking, reframe technology as a supporting member of the team that allows humans to work smarter.

Leaders who shine in this new environment will be those who understand where AI can excel, and where it can fall short. By staying informed of the benefits of automation to individual roles and companies as a whole, finance and banking executives can ensure AI is complementary to unique and valuable human skills. It will be the role of senior leadership to learn how to work alongside AI, and guide teams to utilize AI strategically in order to be at their best. That perspective on the human to machine relationship is irreplaceable.