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Banking royal commission has ‘amped up’ AMP’s appetite for AI

Banking royal commission has ‘amped up’ AMP’s appetite for AI

Scandal proving a ‘pivot’ point for firm’s use of data, says CTO Chris Bell

The findings of the banking royal commission against AMP have heightened the appetite within the company for artificial intelligence and machine learning, says its chief technology officer Chris Bell.

Evidence before the royal commission indicated that the financial institution may have unlawfully deducted service fees from customer accounts and misled the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) on multiple occasions.

In the wake of the revelations the company’s chief executive officer and chairman both resigned, while the firm’s share price plummeted more than 20 per cent.

Asked whether the board still backed the use of AI within the company post-scandal, Bell said the revelations had in fact raised the desire to utilise the technologies.

“Absolutely, in fact, probably it’s amped up even more. I think the opportunity to put machine learning and advanced analytics in play with a lot of the compliance activities that we have in train at the moment is absolutely there,” he told CIO Australia at AMP’s Amplify technology event in Sydney yesterday.

“In fact we are kicking off as part of our response programme a specific piece of work around how do we get intelligent automation into remediation activities that we’re doing around client files. I think, while the focus of where we use [AI and machine learning] may shift, actually, the impost on us leveraging this kind of capability is there even more so, absolutely,” he said.

While other companies might be expected to recoil from innovation in the wake of such a scandal, the royal commission is being framed by AMP’s technology team as an opportunity.

“If you look at these pivots and external events as opportunities, I see this one as a great opportunity,” Bell said.

“If you think about the regulatory impost around providing data, it’s only going to increase. We have to be more sure around the data that we have, and have more trusted data sources…and analyse the data quicker. So it’s actually a bit of a game changer for us in kicking off some of these initiatives.”

AMP’s uses of AI include an online chatbot – Rosie – which assist customers by answering questions and guiding them through AMP’s Flexible Super superannuation product. Another bot is being used internally to assist AMP contact centre staff.

Although these use cases were “interesting” the firm is now seeking to tackle “the bigger scale problems” around data, Bell said.

“We have to put this in in a way that’s foundational. We’re not just talking about little side projects and proof of concepts we’re looking at a data architecture that supports [machine learning and advanced analytics] for a number of use cases,” he said.

As part of that work, Bell in March revealed AMP was pursuing a cloud-first strategy and making “big bets” on software as a service. As a result developers and engineers from different business units are able to focus on “what’s important” rather than the mundanities of deployments.

In recent months, the technology function has been focused on getting the “foundational aspects around data sorted out” Bell said, with the full backing of AMP’s refreshed board.

“There’s just really strong support. At that executive level, everyone understands the importance for all of the businesses in having good quality data they can trust and that they can use to work with their customers, their partners, the regulators,” he said.

“Any large enterprise like AMP – which has come through a long history of acquisition and has a very complex technology ecosystem – trying to pull all that data into a single place where you can get to it and trust it is a hard task. But we’ve got really strong support to,” Bell added.

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Tags financefinancialampctoAIASICbankingRoyal Commissionmachine learningadvanced analyticsChris Bellbanking royal commission

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