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

More than half of the surveyed financial services firms feel they lack the skills needed to implement or maintain 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 percent of risk professionals in the financial services industry have already seen benefits from AI technologies.

The top areas where respondents are reaping those returns include improved process automation (52 percent), credit scoring (45 percent) and data preparation (43 percent). Around one-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 percent 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 percent), faster time to gain insights from data (95 percent) and more data insights for faster, better decisions (95 percent).

Obstacles to AI adoption

Though respondents believe AI is and will continue to become embedded in their organizations, respondents also cited a skills gap to using AI. More than half (52 percent) 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 percent), key stakeholders’ lack of understanding of AI (54 percent) and interpretability of models (47 percent).

“Financial services organizations are striving to compete in the new AI-driven marketplace,” said Troy Haines, Senior Vice President and head of the risk management division at SAS. “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 problem requires an AI solution, but it is important for risk professionals to be knowledgeable of the available technologies, so they can choose the best option to address their challenges.”

For the complete survey findings, download the full report, Artificial Intelligence in Banking and Risk Management: Keeping Pace and Reaping Benefits in a New Age of Analytics.

Survey Methodology

In December 2018, SAS and GARP conducted a survey of more than 2,000 representatives from across the financial services industry, including banking, investment banking/securities, and wealth/asset management, specifically targeted at those with a risk-related role. For the survey, AI included machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, forecasting and optimization.

About GARP

The Global Association of Risk Professionals is a not-for-profit global membership organization dedicated to preparing professionals and organizations to make better-informed risk decisions. The GARP community represents over 150,000 risk management practitioners and researchers from banks, investment management firms, government agencies, academic institutions and corporations from more than 195 countries.

About SAS

SAS is the leader in analytics. Through innovative software and services, SAS empowers and inspires customers around the world to transform data into intelligence. SAS gives you THE POWER TO KNOW®.

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