AI & Finance™ | News for the Week Ending 7/5/24

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Happy Independence Day and welcome to another busy edition of AI & Finance. 

Today, before we get to our headlines, we’d like to introduce a new concept that our readers should watch out for in financial artificial intelligence: “AI-Washing.” 

Recall that over the past decade, many companies have engaged in what has been deemed “greenwashing.” Greenwashing is when companies and products are given the appearance of using environmental, social or corporate governance factors and standards in their processes, though in reality they may not adhere to those standards at all. 

As ESG became a popular investment trend, many financial products and financial companies embraced the terminology and visual symbolism of ESG, though they may not have actually offered significant ESG-oriented products to their clients. 

Today, as investor interest in AI continues to drive financial markets and as the technology itself permeates every sector of the economy, many practitioners and companies are eager to harness the momentum behind the technology. Some of these practitioners and companies may be only superficially involved in pushing AI. Some of them may not be involved at all. This would be AI-washing in action. 

We have no specific examples of AI-washing to offer in our limited experience and knowledge, but we have noticed an up-tick in tangential mentions of artificial intelligence in press releases and announcements from both technology providers and financial services companies, even when the announcements themselves have little or nothing to do with AI. This, too, could be considered an insidious form of AI-washing: companies are trying to catch the attention of journalists and news consumers by seeding their communications with AI-related keywords. 

This brings us back to greenwashing. ESG has been in a downward spiral—if not in assets, then in reputation and interest—over recent years due in part to the deceit of green-washers who were enabled by financial media willing to fall for clever marketing oriented to catch a tailwind from the latest trend. 

The same reputational speedbumps, caused by what we might call crypto-washing, have contributed to delays in the broader adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. 

Journalists are outgunned by the companies they cover, and the media relations firms that serve as informational middlemen between companies and the press. As newsrooms shrink, there’s less of a backdrop to prevent inaccurate and overly promotional material from being published, and thus most reporters and editors can no longer be counted on as protection from ignorance and misinformation, if they can be trusted at all. Most financial writers and editors are far too close to the subjects of their stories to be considered reliable information sources. 

If writers and investors aren’t more vigilant about AI-washing, reputational harm could come to technology and financial services companies pursuing AI and recent progress within the financial services industry towards embracing artificial intelligence could be decelerated, if not temporarily reversed.  

Next week, we’ll offer some tips to avoiding AI-washing. This week we’re proud to offer more than 15 AI and Finance headlines from across the financial and technology industries. 

READ ON…..


1. CLA 

CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen LLP), the eighth-largest accounting firm in the United States, announced that Ray Price, Jr. has joined the firm as its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and that Spencer Lourens has advanced to the newly created Chief Data Officer (CDO) role. 

Price joins CLA after a career at Bank of America, including his most recent role as CFO of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Private Wealth Management. Price will lead CLA’s financial operations, guiding the firm’s fiscal strategy and growth planning in collaboration with the leadership team. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Finance from Old Dominion University, and a Master of Business Administration (EMBA) from Queens University of Charlotte. Price is a lifetime member of NABA Inc. and serves as the Chair of the Corporate Advisory Board for the organization. He is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he, his wife, and their two daughters reside.  

As CDO, Lourens will oversee data management, quality, utilization, and governance, while developing comprehensive data strategies as part of CLA’s $500 million investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technology. Lourens joined the firm in 2019 to accelerate CLA’s digital solutions and previously served as the Managing Principal of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. He brings a wealth of experience to this role including a Ph.D. in biostatistics from the University of Iowa, and an extensive background in Artificial Intelligence and data science. Previously, Lourens was an Assistant Professor and directed the undergraduate Health Data Science program at Indiana University School of Medicine and the Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health. 

2. Dataricks 

Datricks announced an expansion of its partnership with SAP with the launch of Datricks for Risk Mining as an SAP Endorsed App, available on SAP® Store. The solution enables organizations to proactively detect, prevent, and mitigate risks in real time, through advanced technology and streamlined integration. 

SAP Endorsed Apps are a distinct category of solutions within SAP’s partner ecosystem. These apps solve key customer challenges that provide additional value to offer holistic business solutions and bring out the best in every business. Endorsed Apps are premium certified by SAP with added security, in-depth testing, and measurements against benchmark results. This recognition underscores Datricks’ commitment to delivering exceptional value to organizations seeking continuous financial compliance and operational efficiency. 

Datricks’ cutting-edge AI-driven technology, combined with SAP Signavio’s leading expertise in business process transformation, helps deliver a comprehensive solution that streamlines operations and empowers organizations to proactively identify and mitigate risks before they escalate into major disruptions. 

3. Gradient AI 

Gradient AI, an enterprise software provider of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions in the insurance industry, announced Builders & Tradesmen’s Insurance Services, Inc. (BTIS), has adopted its underwriting solution to better predict risk and improve the pricing accuracy of workers’ compensation policies. 

BTIS, a Managing General Underwriter (MGU), is a nationwide insurance intermediary focused on serving small businesses with a wide range of commercial insurance lines. The company is dedicated to building strong partner relationships through outstanding service and innovative insurance solutions. BTIS has experienced significant growth over the past 25 years. To sustain and build on this momentum, the company wanted to enhance its underwriting process to write more profitable policies while efficiently scaling its workers’ compensation business. 

BTIS selected Gradient AI’s underwriting solution to evaluate risks with greater precision and speed, enabling the company to capture more business and reduce loss ratios. Gradient AI’s risk scoring and underwriting model helps BTIS assess risk more quickly and guide pricing decisions. This allows BTIS to create highly customized and cost-effective workers’ comp policies for its carrier customers, and deliver quotes faster than before. 

4. Medius 

Medius, a provider of AI-driven solutions for Accounts Payable (AP) automation, announced the launch of two innovative products: Medius Copilot for Accounts Payable Automation (APA) and Medius Supplier Conversations. These cutting-edge tools are designed to streamline and enhance the efficiency of AP processes, marking a significant milestone in the realization of the Medius Agent project. 

Medius Copilot is an intelligent assistant embedded within the AP automation application, specifically designed to assist invoice approvers, particularly those who are not AP experts. Medius Copilot enables users to ask questions about invoices, facilitating quick, efficient, and anomaly-free approvals. This innovative tool reduces the time spent on chasing queries and minimizes the risk of delayed approvals, ensuring smoother and faster processing of invoices. 

Medius Supplier Conversations addresses the time-consuming task of responding to supplier inquiries. As many as 87% of finance professionals are responsible for replying to vendor emails, answering an average of 28 such emails each day. This translates to an average of six hours a week replying to supplier inquiries about invoices. 

5. Morgan Stanley Wealth Management 

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management announced the next innovation milestone in its AI @ Morgan Stanley suite of GenAI tools for Financial Advisors (FAs). The new AI @ Morgan Stanley Debrief is an OpenAI-powered tool that, with client consent, generates notes on a Financial Advisors’ behalf in client meetings and surfaces action items. 

After the meeting, it summarizes key points, creates an email for an Advisor to edit and send at their discretion, and saves a note into Salesforce. 

AI @ Morgan Stanley Debrief comes after Morgan Stanley Wealth Management announced its relationship with OpenAI as its only wealth management strategic partner in March 2023 and fully rolled out the AI @ Morgan Stanley Assistant in September 2023—an award-winning2 GenAI powered chatbot offering FAs quick access to all of Morgan Stanley’s intellectual capital. To date, 98% of Financial Advisor teams have adopted the Assistant. 

6. Norm Ai 

Norm Ai raised a fresh round of capital. The company has secured a $27 million Series A led by Coatue, with participation from Bain Capital Ventures, Blackstone Innovations Investments, New York Life Ventures, Citi Ventures, TIAA Ventures, and Jefferson River Capital, the family office of Tony James, the former President and COO of Blackstone. Over the past 11 months, Norm has raised more than $38 million from leading firms. 

Norm has built the first AI platform for converting regulations into computer code. The team of AI engineers and legal engineers developed a proprietary language to represent government regulations and corporate policies as decision trees that become executable computer programs by leveraging powerful large language models. These programs, called Regulatory AI Agents, automate compliance analyses to make them more efficient, comprehensive, and accurate. The Norm approach also sets the foundation for integrating AI more deeply into businesses by ensuring that AI-driven actions and content from generative systems adhere to policies through a Regulatory AI agent overlay. 

Fortune 100 companies deploy Norm Ai for critical regulatory assessments. For example, insurance companies and asset managers accelerate their publication of highly regulated content while freeing large amounts of bandwidth for other tasks. By automatically providing clear, actionable explanations for proactive compliance findings, Norm Ai empowers business users to self-serve initial rounds of regulatory compliance reviews. By producing actionable feedback across all regulatory parameters, Norm Ai enables in-the-weeds compliance users to evaluate and finalize content against regulatory requirements in minutes, not days. 

7. Q2 

Q2 Holdings, a provider of digital transformation solutions for financial services, announced that Massachusetts-based Avidia Bank has selected Q2 to modernize and enhance its digital banking experience for its customers. The bank will also leverage Personetics’ AI-powered personalized engagement platform through Q2 Innovation Studio to maximize the impact of the data-driven insights and empower its customers to achieve their financial goals. 

Founded in 1869, Avidia Bank is a $2.6 billion mutual community bank with a mission to provide its communities with strong and efficient financial solutions and exceptional customer service. Previously, the bank was limited in its capabilities and hindered by system complexities, so it sought Q2 to revamp its digital banking experience and improve and simplify its internal and external processes. 

In addition to the Q2 Digital Banking Platform, Avidia Bank selected several other Q2 solutions, including Q2 Innovation Studio and Q2 Marketplace, to deliver faster innovation and differentiated experiences. Q2 Innovation Studio will enable Avidia Bank to partner with fintechs to provide its customers with pre-built integrations to enhance the digital banking experience. 

8. Quantifind 

Quantifind announced its new Payments Risk Intelligence solution, set to transform the landscape of payments risk management with unmatched accuracy and scalability. This new solution offers purpose-built artificial intelligence (AI) to provide a comprehensive and holistic risk analysis approach that spans pre-, during, and post-alert generation from the first customer assessment through payment transactions. 

Detecting risk amidst the rapid flow of payments poses a formidable challenge. Criminal activity seamlessly blends into payment chains, necessitating sophisticated methods to identify potential threats. Examining traditional payment risk management reveals two extreme approaches. On one end, sanctions enforcement focuses on screening transactions for compliance with international sanctions. However, traditional transaction screening methods are often ineffective due to their high rate of false positives. The static nature of these screening rules allows sophisticated criminals to adjust their tactics and evade detection. At the same time, reliance on predefined lists limits the system’s ability to adapt to new and emerging threats. 

On the other end of the spectrum is transaction monitoring. These applications face significant limitations that undermine their effectiveness in detecting and preventing financial crimes. Typically implemented as on-premises solutions, they rely on static rules and simplistic AML scenarios, resulting in a high volume of false positives. Traditional monitoring is reactive and periodic, failing to keep pace with evolving money laundering techniques and allowing criminals to exploit gaps between monitoring periods. This inability to adapt to dynamic financial crime patterns makes traditional transaction monitoring increasingly inadequate. 

9. RISR 

RISR, the first comprehensive business owner engagement platform for financial advisors, announced the successful closure of a $1.5 million capital raise. This seed round, which saw participation from financial services industry titans including Kane Brenan, Angelo Grecco, Kevin Lucey, Scott Hildenbrand, Frank Coates and David Henkin, will primarily fund strategic hires, service enhancements and platform development. 

Built to deepen relationships between advisors and their business owner clients, RISR unlocks the data and insights required to enable more personalized engagement. Business owners face critical decisions that directly inform succession planning, capital structure, estate planning, tax planning, investments, insurance and more. As private business data is notoriously disorganized and difficult to analyze, advisors lack the tools needed to help their clients optimize and protect their most valuable asset. To fill this gap, RISR seamlessly aggregates and analyzes key financial and business data to provide personalized insights that launch advisors into more meaningful conversations. 

RISR has already begun assembling an elite team of industry experts. Early customers have benefited from the talent accrued, including Chief Operating Officer Cory Siegfried, formerly of eMoney, Apprise Labs and Envestnet. Buoyed by its growing team, the company is focused on expanding its data capture and insights generation capabilities by leveraging key integrations, artificial intelligence and deep industry expertise. 

10. Robinhood 

Pluto was acquired by Robinhood, the investing app. Pluto’s former owner, Raido Capital Partners, said thaht the acquisition marks a significant milestone and underscores the growing importance of AI in the realm of personal finance and wealth management. 

Pluto is an AI-driven investment advice platform. Its technology offers real-time data analysis, customizable dashboards, automated trading rules, and AI-generated data visualizations. These capabilities are set to be integrated into Robinhood’s existing suite of financial tools, enhancing the user experience and providing more personalized and insightful investment strategies.

This acquisition is not just a strategic move for Robinhood, but also a testament to the expanding role of AI within personal finance and wealth management. According to Raido Capital Partners. 

11. Savvy Wealth 

Savvy Advisors, a registered investment advisor affiliated with Savvy Wealth, announced that four new wealth managers have joined the firm. With a growing presence across the U.S., Savvy now employs 24 financial advisors who collectively manage more than $600 million in assets under management (AUM). Specializing in technology-driven wealth management, Savvy arms its wealth managers with a purpose-built, fully integrated platform to deliver a more seamless client experience 

The four new wealth managers can now use Savvy’s all-in-one, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered platform to serve the holistic financial needs of high-net-worth clients. Savvy Wealth’s technology automates and streamlines processes like new account onboarding, ongoing financial planning and personalized communications across multiple marketing channels. The firm’s technology stack also includes an in-house investment management program, Savvy Wealth Investment Management, and a proprietary direct indexing solution. 

12. Senzing 

Graph analytics and entity resolution are crucial for organizations seeking to harness the power of their data. Senzing announced a partnership with GraphAware, a provider of connected data analytics platforms built on Neo4j. This partnership integrates Senzing entity resolution capabilities into GraphAware Hume, GraphAware’s graph-based enterprise intelligence platform, offering unparalleled data insights and competitive advantages. 

GraphAware clients include financial institutions, intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, cyber defense advisories and diverse research organizations. GraphAware Hume allows both analysts and data scientists to easily visualize and monitor complex relationships, detect patterns of suspicious activities, and perform powerful machine-assisted link analysis. 

Senzing provides the first purpose-built AI for entity resolution. With Senzing entity resolution integrated into the Hume data intelligence platform, users can better validate identities, mitigate signal-to-noise challenges in their data, map connections between individuals and other legal entities (e.g., to discover and clarify Ultimate Beneficial Ownership (UBO) relationships), and build comprehensive 360-degree views of entities. 

13. Tabs 

Tabs, an AI-powered billing and financial operations platform for B2B businesses, announced the launch of its Revenue Recognition product, a powerful addition to its platform. This new module transforms the way businesses manage and recognize revenue, ensuring compliance with the latest accounting standards, and providing unparalleled accuracy and efficiency. 

Tabs Revenue Recognition automates the complex process of revenue recognition, allowing businesses to seamlessly track and report their revenue in real-time. 

14. Taxfyle 

Taxfyle, the tech-enabled accounting service and workforce pioneer, announced a suite of tools integrating the power of generative artificial intelligence (AI) into its platform. Leveraging proprietary AI automation tools has enabled Taxfyle to reduce the cost of basic 1040 preparation by 40%, improving margins while continuing to provide verification from one of the 7,200+ tax professionals using the Taxfyle platform. 

Currently, the average accountant spends about two hours preparing a tax return, but gathering data and documents from each client can take an additional eight to ten days. This extensive process often leads to burnout and limits accountants’ ability to spend meaningful time with their clients. Taxfyle’s AI automation streamlines this process by efficiently gathering and analyzing documents, generating necessary worksheets and backup schedules, and significantly reducing errors and workflow congestion. 

Taxfyle’s AI innovation includes our OCR (Optical Character Recognition), allowing accountants to scope jobs without manual input. Firms can upload bulk returns into the OCR, which reviews and prices them automatically, eliminating the need for manual work. 

15. ValidMind 

ValidMind has added two strategic hires to its roster. 

Kristof Horompoly, former executive director and head of responsible AI at JPMorgan Chase, joins the team as head of AI risk management. Horompoly will use his expertise spearheading JPMorgan’s GenAI efforts to upscale and enhance ValidMind’s solution, making it the AI governance gold standard for risk management teams. 

Annalisa Sarasini has more than 15 years of experience in fintech and tech, leading and growing the commercial success of companies like 29West and smartTrade Technologies as global head of sales and CRO. As ValidMind’s head of growth strategy, Sarasini will drive sustainable and scalable growth globally by developing effective customer acquisition and retention strategies.