AI & Finance™ | News for the Week Ending 5/3/24

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Is AI in a Bubble?

Any time an emerging technology captivates consumer attention and generates tremendous amounts of investor excitement, market watchdogs begin to ask whether a bubble is forming—indeed, for many months now a growing cohort of analysts, journalists and academics have been voicing concern that artificial intelligence is a bubble that will eventually pop. 

A market bubble is a built-in feature of emerging and evolving technology as it captures consumer and investor attention. The growth, deflation and popping of technology-related bubbles occurred many times in the 20th century, culminating in one of the biggest bubble bursts of all time, the 1990s dot-com bust of internet-related companies. I buy the argument that artificial intelligence, given its sudden ubiquity and newness, is in a bubble.  

Markets are frothy, and startups come and go. Euromonitor International, an AI-powered market research company, conducted an analysis that determined one-third of the brands launched in 2022 were discontinued by the end of 2023. 

Whenever the public and particularly the investing public become zealots for a new technology, a bubble forms. It’s natural human behavior to overhype a good thing, to buy into others’ hype and to follow the crowd, gravitating attention to the newest, hot thing. That’s what fads are, and AI’s recent boom has most of the characteristics of a fad. The world is almost certainly over its skis when it comes to embracing and investing in artificial intelligence in the short term and there will be plenty of failures and perhaps epic crashes surrounding AI in the future. 

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But that doesn’t mean the bubble must burst or will burst like the dot-com bubble of the 1990s. An AI bubble could instead gradually deflate like a leaky balloon, or the value created by the technology could grow sustainably without a sudden collapse in the market. Some AI projects are sure to be failures, while others are already successful, will continue to be successful, and will be joined by new successes. There are efficiencies and value still to be discovered for businesses, consumers, owners and investors in developing and implementing existing AI technologies. Businesspeople and technologists are constantly exploring new applications of the current technology. The future will offer new and more sophisticated iterations of generative AI. 

If we narrow our focus to financial artificial intelligence, I can’t see the bubble. Technologists are still trying to define specific applications for AI within finance, outside of those migrating from other industries, like the virtual assistants coming from technology and retail, or the anti-money laundering and fraud detection capabilities whose roots lie more in cybersecurity.  

To this day, there are few applications of artificial intelligence technologies, and especially the newer generative AI technologies, that are native to the financial industry. Much of the money behind the space is high-risk, speculative money from large institutions, mega-cap companies and private investors who expect the early-stage froth.  

There is also a concurrent systemic risk that AI or implementing AI could somehow harm companies within the financial sector, and thus the financial system itself. Financial companies are key actors in the financial system underpinning the global economy, hence their regulatory constraints. Those constraints are also one of the reasons the financial industry slow-walks implementing new technology, greatly mitigating the risk that the technology itself causes a global financial crisis. 

Today’s list of 18 financial AI headlines, led by items from FINOS, Franklin Templeton, Salesforce and Laserfiche, offers good evidence that the news isn’t slowing down. 

READ ON…..


1. APPRO 

APPRO announced the successful expansion of its strategic partnership with Silent Eight, marking a continuation of their shared commitment to accuracy, efficiency and real-time decision-making capabilities in their Name Screening programs. 

Silent Eight enables the fight against financial crime with AI-powered detection and alert closure solutions across Name Screening, Transaction Screening and Transaction Monitoring. 

Embracing the early integration of AI-driven automation into their financial crime programs, APPRO strategically fosters sustained agility and growth across the UAE. 

2. Delos Insurance Solutions 

Delos Insurance Solutions, which uses wildfire science and satellite imagery expertise to solve homeowners’ wildfire insurance availability issues, announced it will offer wildfire insurance to more California policyholders with vacant properties. Delos is expanding its coverage availability through a new partnership with certain underwriters at Lloyd’s of London. Delos is one of a select number of Lloyd’s coverholders in the United States, which are authorized to place business into the world’s oldest insurance marketplace. 

Delos vertically integrates its wildfire science expertise and data from its suite of wildfire models into its underwriting and portfolio management. Its patent-pending technology empowers the company to pinpoint properties in “stressed” areas – which traditional insurers avoid due to potential wildfire concerns – that do not pose a high risk of loss. Delos has been very successful at recognizing low risk areas within stressed regions, and has never non-renewed a home for wildfire exposure. 

Delos’ platform aggregates and analyzes exposure and concentration data to quantify a home’s actual wildfire risk. It is enabled by a proprietary geospatial AI algorithm and more than 200 data layer inputs, such as detailed weather and wind data, drought and precipitation history, and multi-level overlays of amount, type, and health of vegetation. 

3. FactSet 

FactSet, a global financial digital platform and enterprise solutions provider, announced its latest GenAI advancement, Portfolio Commentary. 

This innovative solution complements FactSet’s industry-leading performance attribution capabilities with detailed and source-linked commentary to empower buy-side and wealth management professionals to understand the key drivers of portfolio performance more holistically. 

Powered by large language models (LLMs), Portfolio Commentary significantly reduces the challenging, time-consuming, and nuanced process of writing attribution summaries manually. Instead, with the click of a button, users can generate baseline and source-linked portfolio commentary for any attribution report in approximately 30-60 seconds. 

4. FINOS 

The Fintech Open Source Foundation (FINOS), the financial services umbrella of the Linux Foundation, announced the formation of the AI Readiness for Financial Services Industry (FSI) Special Interest Group (SIG) as part of its broader pioneering artificial intelligence (AI) strategic initiative. 

This SIG will create a collaborative environment for industry leaders to collectively develop frameworks and policies designed to enable the effective, safe, trustworthy and compliant deployment of generative AI technologies. The aim is to replicate the major impact the FINOS Open Source Readiness Program made in open source adoption in the industry. 

An impressive roster of FINOS members have signed on to advance this initiative including Citi, Scott Logic, Morgan Stanley, and ControlPlane leading the effort; Databricks as an Executive Sponsor; Gold FINOS Members: the London Stock Exchange Group and Publicis Sapient; and Silver Member: EPAM – showcasing the industry’s strong commitment to this transformative journey. Additionally, Microsoft and Provectus, as new FINOS members are also participating in this effort. 

5. Franklin Templeton 

Franklin Templeton is working with Microsoft to build an advanced financial AI platform marking a significant step toward transforming the financial services industry. The platform will use composable business applications to help Franklin Templeton rapidly embed AI in its processes and enable digital transformation at scale. The two firms – leaders in their respective industries – are aligning capabilities to facilitate continuous innovation within financial services. 

This new AI platform will be built using Microsoft Azure AI services including Azure OpenAI Service (GPT-4 model), Azure AI Search, and Azure AI Document Intelligence. A first potential benefit will be to improve the productivity of sales and marketing teams and to create more personalized support for their clients. 

Personalized experiences are key to delivering differentiated value to financial services clients. It is, however, challenging to merge structured data with contextual financial information, which means they are usually kept separate, with many AI initiatives thus focusing on limited capabilities such as summarization and basic conversations. Combining the two in a single, powerful capability is exactly what this collaboration aims to achieve. 

6. INSTANT 

INSTANT, a data automation and generative technology company specializing in real-time business intelligence for global enterprises and financial institutions, announced the appointment of Rob Melnyk as Executive Vice President, Financial Services. With his extensive experience in leadership at high-growth investment management and capital markets firms, Rob brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the INSTANT leadership team. 

As Executive Vice President, Financial Services, Rob will spearhead efforts to refine the INSTANT Platform for Financial Services, assist with the product delivery sales process, drive strategic planning, and lead cross-organizational initiatives to achieve INSTANT’s ambitious growth targets. 

Over the last 25 years, Rob has dedicated his career to managing and improving operations, back office functions and processes at financial institutions. Most recently, his experience included Managing Director of Operations and Treasury at Davidson Kempner Capital Management (DKCM), where Rob helped develop customized systems to streamline and improve various back office operations. During his tenure at DKCM, the firm grew assets under management from $6 billion to more than $40 billion, resulting in a complex global organization that required specialized reporting and back office management solutions to achieve efficiencies. 

7. Laserfiche 

Laserfiche announced the availability of new generative AI-powered document summarization in Laserfiche Cloud. The release represents one landmark in the Laserfiche AI vision to transform the workplace, empowering individuals to unlock the value in their organization’s content, gain control of processes and deploy AI at scale. 

Organizations face the challenge of managing growing amounts of data across departments, offices and geographic locations — making it difficult to find the value hidden inside those repositories. Laserfiche AI Document Summarization achieves this by unlocking more meaningful insights into content. 

Accessed through the Laserfiche repository, document summarization gives users the ability to leverage generative AI within the context of their organization’s information management framework. This new feature will allow organizations to streamline information processing, without losing sight of increasingly important and ever-evolving data privacy and security standards. 

8. Nexus AI 

The launch of Nexus AI marks a significant milestone in the evolution of AI-driven trading technology. With traditional trading methods becoming increasingly outdated in today’s fast-paced markets, Nexus AI offers investors a revolutionary solution to stay ahead of the curve and maximize their investment returns. 

The Nexus AI Trading software is simple to understand and intuitive, allowing traders to make trades using fully automated AI software without any complexities. By leveraging the power of cutting-edge technology and advanced algorithms, Nexus AI is powered by state-of-the-art AI algorithms that analyze market trends, patterns, and correlations with unparalleled accuracy. These advanced algorithms enable Nexus AI to make informed trading decisions based on real-time data, helping investors achieve outstanding returns. 

As the world’s first AI trading bot, Nexus AI is at the forefront of a new era in investment technology. By combining the latest advancements in AI and quantum computing, Nexus AI offers investors a glimpse into the future of trading, where speed, precision, and adaptability are paramount. The future of trading is here, and it’s powered by Nexus AI. 

9. OneStream 

OneStream Software announced a new automated Narrative Reporting approach within the OneStream platform at OneStream Connect – London, its premier regional customer conference in the United Kingdom. With OneStream’s Narrative Reporting, Finance leaders can perform live analysis of corporate performance drivers and review and edit traditionally disjointed data and documentation all within the OneStream platform. 

By unifying and streamlining report creation, from narrative assembly to data analysis and editing, Finance leaders will leverage live OneStream data to drive transparency, confidence, and contextualization behind financial data. 

10. Pineapple Financial 

Pineapple Financial announced a 92% improvement in its process to onboard new agents through the use of AI and other digital tools. These tools have enabled the Company to onboard over 100 new agents and save its Director of Brokerage Operations over 100 hours since the beginning of 2024. 

Earlier this year, Pineapple introduced Maui, an AI assistant designed to help mortgage brokers improve workflow, speed up processes and significantly enhance broker productivity. The initial functionality of Maui leverages artificial intelligence to generate custom websites and biographies for mortgage brokers. 

The Company has recently added the ability to create eSignatures and ad banners to Maui’s capabilities. The new AI signature generator creates a modern, mobile-friendly eSignature that automatically updates in Gmail, Google Workspace, and MyPineapple, is compatible with Outlook, Mac Mail, iPhone, and Yahoo Mail and provides easy-to-follow instructions to add the eSignature to those applications.  

11. PKT 

PKT lead devs will collaborate with the Allora Network to enable PKT’s forthcoming bandwidth-backed, real-world assets (RWAs) marketplace. PKT is a layer 1 decentralized physical infrastructure (DePIN) project built to support open internet access and power the decentralized web. The PKT team is now building a decentralized marketplace where tokenized RWA bandwidth leases will be traded. It will use Allora’s AI price predictions, which take into account various factors such as network quality, location, and demand, to determine the fair value of bandwidth-backed RWAs. 

The PKT project is both a layer 1 blockchain, powered by a global community of infrastructure providers, and a high speed mesh network called PKT Network. PKT miners and node operators use processing power and bandwidth to secure the PKT blockchain and power the network. PKT node operators will be able to tokenize their bandwidth using RWAs that represent access rights to bandwidth over a period of time. These RWAs serve as a unique way to quantify and monetize the value of the PKT node operators’ resources. They will then be able to exchange those RWAs in a decentralized bandwidth trading marketplace, or even sell them to internet service providers (ISPs) looking to expand their network capacity. 

The challenge in creating a marketplace for bandwidth-backed RWAs is that bandwidth quality varies significantly depending on network infrastructure, the node operator’s location, and demand. These factors all make it difficult to accurately price these assets and ensure fair market dynamics. Allora’s AI price predictions, however, analyze vast amounts of data to create highly accurate AI-generated prices. This establishes a reliable source of truth for bandwidth pricing, enabling PKT’s bandwidth marketplace to function more efficiently and transparently. 

12. RowBotAI 

RowBotAI announced the launch of its customer-centric White Label Generative AI solution. Designed to empower customer interactions and streamline business operations, this innovative platform offers unparalleled versatility and adaptability for Contact Centers, HR Departments, Technical Support, and Financial Services. 

The RowBotAI White Label Generative AI solution leverages AI technology to deliver personalized customer experiences across a wide range of industries. With its advanced conversational capabilities and seamless voice interface, businesses can transform their customer engagement strategies and lower call center costs by 50-75%. 

Key Features include reducing agent response times, enhancing the customer experience, and dramatically reducing costs. 

13. Salesforce 

Salesforce announced the Salesforce Zero Copy Partner Network, a global ecosystem of technology and solution providers building secure, bidirectional zero copy integrations with Salesforce Data Cloud so that data can be actioned across the Salesforce Einstein 1 Platform. Salesforce also unveiled innovations including new zero copy support for open data lakes and lakehouses utilizing the Apache Iceberg open table format, as well as added zero copy support for ISV partners developing data kits to distribute their valuable data sets to Data Cloud customers. 

Salesforce Data Cloud unifies all your customer data, structured and unstructured, into a unified 360-degree view accessible within Salesforce. This empowers teams to make data-driven decisions directly in their flow of work. This data goes beyond information access — it fuels actionable insights. Imagine automated triggers based on customer behavior, like a Slack message notifying a sales rep when a customer visits a pricing page on their website. This real-time information allows for immediate engagement. Data Cloud also provides the foundation for trusted AI. By unifying and cleansing your data, you ensure AI models operate on the most accurate information. This unlocks the full potential of large language models (LLMs), delivering faster, more cost-effective results. 

Salesforce previously introduced the concept of zero copy bidirectional integrations with Data Cloud via partnerships with Amazon Redshift, Databricks, Google Cloud’s BigQuery, and Snowflake. Without zero copy, companies have to rely on custom integrations and complex data pipelines for the integration and movement of data from Salesforce to external data warehouses and vice versa. Unlike traditional extract, transform, and load (ETL) processes and data pipelines, zero copy integration offers businesses a more efficient, secure, and user-friendly way to connect data to business applications. 

14. Securian Financial 

Securian Financial and Empathy are joining forces to give Securian Financial’s more than 11 million employee benefits customers access to comprehensive support to navigate the logistical and emotional complexities that come with loss. 

Through a strategic partnership, Empathy’s bereavement care is now available to beneficiaries of Securian Financial’s group life insurance. In addition, Empathy’s anticipatory loss support is now offered as part of Securian Financial’s group accident, critical illness and hospital indemnity insurance products. Securian Financial is the first carrier to offer Empathy’s anticipatory loss service with its group supplemental health insurance. 

Both Empathy offerings are provided by Securian Financial at no cost to its employee customers. Securian Financial’s employer customers also have the option to further expand Empathy’s service for their employees across all instances of loss, including to extended family who may not be included in a life insurance policy. 

15. Synthetik 

Synthetik announced the successful demonstration of their “Flood Data Collection and Analysis” platform, Flowcore – an end-to-end tool for modeling of flood scenarios and prediction of resulting damage and financial/insurance losses. Flowcore incorporates Synthetik’s proprietary GPU-accelerated flood simulation code, and uniquely leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver results in seconds on standard laptop systems – enabling measurement of cumulative events or high-volume probabilistic analysis. 

Flowcore has undergone significant validation using real world events and was used to recreate a flash flooding event in Fort Lauderdale, FL from April 2023 with virtually perfect accuracy at unprecedented speeds. 

Flowcore meets the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) objectives of better understanding historical flood impact, real-time analysis and damage forecasting for future events across the country and represents a step-change in scalability for physics-based flood simulation. Flowcore is already being marketed and utilized by Synthetik’s partners in the insurance industry. 

16. Upstart 

Upstart announced the launch of Recognized Customer Personalization (RCP). This new feature of the Upstart Referral Network enables banks and credit unions to present a customized loan offer to their existing customers who are looking for a loan on Upstart.com. More than 20 lenders within Upstart’s network have already opted into RCP. 

With this capability, lenders can identify when an existing customer is actively shopping for a loan, offering an opportunity for that lender to expand their relationship by making a compelling offer of credit.  

RCP is available to lenders on the Upstart Referral Network. With the Upstart Referral Network, qualified personal loan applicants on Upstart.com who meet a bank or credit union’s credit policies receive tailored offers and then seamlessly transition into the lender-branded experience to complete the online application and closing process. 

17. Vanilla 

Vanilla announced an expanded set of features for Vanilla Document Builder, the modern document creation engine within the Vanilla Estate Advisory Platform. Financial advisors using Vanilla can now offer a compelling modern estate planning experience for clients across the wealth spectrum. New features include the ability to connect directly with legal experts, to get powers of attorney for adult children, and to tap into advanced tax planning options. These enhancements were unveiled at Legacy Now, Vanilla’s biannual virtual estate planning event attended by advisors, attorneys, and planners. 

Vanilla introduced two new packages as part of the Vanilla Document Builder experience. The new Attorney Engagement package offers the ability to engage directly with licensed estate planning attorneys. This allows clients to work closely with top legal experts to ensure their estate documents are accurate and personalized to their unique situations, regardless of complexity. 

Vanilla also introduced a new Essentials document creation package that enables users to create Health Care Advance Directive (HCAD), Financial Power of Attorney (FPOA), and HIPAA disclosure documents for clients with adult children. This package provides families with the most up-to-date advance medical directive and estate planning documents that reflect state laws, ensuring they have the appropriate legal documents in place to reflect the wishes of the adult children in case of mental or physical incapacitation. 

18. Xiao-I Corporation 

Xiao-I Corporation announced the forthcoming launch of its innovative product, DIF (Daily Invest Focus), in May 2024. This product is poised to revolutionize the approach to stock market analysis with the tagline “Maximize your market moves.” 

In today’s landscape of information abundance, extracting valuable data is essential for formulating strategic investment decisions. DIF is designed to provide investors with effective and insightful information, serving as a critical component in interpreting market sentiment and identifying viable investment opportunities. This empowers investors to maneuver through the intricacies of financial markets confidently, with decisions firmly rooted in clarity amidst a sea of unfiltered data. 

DIF addresses this challenge by incorporating an advanced artificial intelligence framework known as Agentic Workflow. This framework marks a significant shift from conventional static Q&A interactions with Large Language Models (LLMs). Instead, it adopts an iterative and multi-step process, capitalizing on the synergistic efforts of multiple AI agents to perform complex tasks. The Agentic Workflow facilitates collaboration among these AI agents, enabling them to distribute tasks, engage in discussions, and debate, thereby arriving at more refined solutions than could be achieved by a single agent.