AI is the future but don’t neglect the human touch, says CEO

Two leading CEOs explain how new technology such as AI in the sphere of financial services will transform operations and why human soft skills will be much sought after

Classed as a so-called 'power profile' CEO on LinkedIn, DBS Group chief Piyush Gupta had the chance to raise his online profile to even greater heights when he shared the stage with LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner in Singapore recently.

The Asset was privileged to sit in on the fireside chat between LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and DBS Group chief executive Piyush Gupta.

The high-powered pair shared their thoughts on key impacts affecting the future of work and how cutting-edge technology can transform and empower their respective workforces.

The ebullient Gupta elucidated on how new technology such as artificial intelligence and big data is rapidly changing the way banks and financial services firms are run. Under his leadership, DBS Bank has pivoted to fully embrace all things digital, picking up a slew of prestigious industry accolades around the world.

Gupta gave a few examples explaining how DBS utilizes artificial intelligence, transforming its day to day operations. He told the small invited audience that the lender has rolled out Jim, an acronym for 'Jobs Intelligence Maestro'.

Powered by artificial intelligence, over time Jim learns to make better assessments in screening job candidates. The new technology has already turned in impressive results, with the attrition rate down to 6%, representing a considerable drop off from the previous level of 20%, according to Gupta. The HR recruiting tool was custom-built to meet the needs of DBS' recruiters and is the brainchild of Singapore start-up Impress.AI and DBS' own talent acquisition team.

Jim helps DBS recruiters to review resumes, collect applicants' responses for pre-screening questions, and conduct psychometric profiling assessments on candidates.

The virtual recruiter is now established, playing a key role augmenting the bank's desire to boost recruitment standards of roles which attract considerable interest, such as the management associate and graduate associate programmes, Demand for these positions typically entices over 7,000 candidates vying for just 20 roles.

Earlier this year the Singaporean bank launched Your Financial GPS, a holistic digital financial advisor.

The automated advisor, which undertakes active analysis of customers' current financial positions to offer tailored financial advice, was developed based on feedback from hundreds of face-to-face customer interviews and prototyping sessions.

In addition, the bank also analyzed huge volumes of user data and behavioural activity.

"Data, It's the new oil," Gupta says, then corrects himself by saying, "No it's more critical than that, perhaps data is the new air." 

And while Gupta acknowledged that by deploying artificial intelligence in getting rid of "the grunt work" in banking was not a bad thing, he did foresee some challenges harnessing artificial intelligence in the realm of financial services.

He cited potential problematic areas, such as the use of AI and personal data in the insurance market. An applicant could potentially be denied from obtaining life insurance cover if his lifestyle and family health history data show a tendency towards developing cancer.

One oft quoted downside to new technology is the shift in employment patterns: LinkedIn data shared at the event indicated that as many as 75 million jobs could be lost globally to AI and robotics between now and 2022.

LinkedIn CEO Weiner concurred with Gupta that a widening skills gap presents an opportunity for organizations to review their approach, such as not always jumping straight into hiring individuals with technical skills to fill in emerging jobs.

"There's an opportunity to re-skill and equip current employees to align their skill sets and help narrow the gaps," Weiner says.

And as more digitalization permeates into banking and the financial services sector, the challenges and demands will turn from not finding people with technical skills, to acquiring and retaining individuals with soft skills, as these personal attributes will be more difficult to replace.

Technology will find it nigh on impossible to replicate the empathy and judgement that humans possess, concurred the two business leaders.

When sharing his advice for younger professionals who need to future-proof themselves and remain relevant, the DBS chief advised not to forget to hone the 2As: "Be adaptable, and refine the ability to take risks," Gupta adds.

For Weiner, the 5Cs are unlikely to become obsolete anytime soon. These, he says, are creativity, critical reasoning, collaboration, communication and compassion.