But the truth is people are already, today, using AI to make their jobs - and lives - easier. In architecture. Education. Healthcare. The list goes on.
"Not only will it help clients, but also assist banks and their staff - both of which will also ultimately benefit customers.”
The story is no different in financial services. The rate at which this technology is advancing is remarkable and if banks don't try and adopt it now, particularly across the channel and payment landscapes, they will be left behind.
AI will help make banking easier and better - particularly for businesses at an institutional level and their treasurers. That’s a given.
What’s less focussed on is the second and third order of help. Not only will it help clients, but also assist banks and their staff - both of which will ultimately benefit customers.
What excites me about generative AI is what it means for customers. At ANZ, when we talk about channels, we mean the ways in which we interact online with our customers and deliver the services they want. The customers’ digital experience.
In my view, generative AI is going to be a new channel itself. Our existing channel experience uses customised widgets to offer users anywhere up to 20 different views of something they might need. There are some trade-offs in this approach when it comes to the user experience.
When we build digital tools now, it’s based on what customers might need today. But in fast-changing sectors – and in an increasingly digital world, that’s pretty much all of them – they will need something different tomorrow – and the next day.
In an AI world we don't need to worry about compromising and guessing what we think our customers need. We can just focus on helping them do what they want to do, when they want to.
In a few keystrokes, treasurers can access not just insights into their sales data, but forecasts of their cash flow in the week ahead. Data mapped to retail locations. The list goes on – all using the valuable, anonymised and secure data ANZ already has access to.
AI is offering opportunities for banks to present a different lens on their data to customers in a way that makes sense for them.
Life is likely to get a lot easier for relationship managers at banks thanks to AI – freeing them up to form closer relationships with their clients.
Banks produce a lot of data – but also a lot of guidance, procedures, news and messages, creating huge corporate networks hosted across a wide array of interfaces.
Banks also have a lot of data in different places, making it difficult to connect the data in ways that make sense. This can make it hard for relationship managers (RMs) to find the information they want – and then work out what to do with it.
For example, an AI model using banking data could provide an easily accessible resource for RMs ahead of client meetings, instantly providing a detailed brief on the customer’s business. And some AI tools can even understand and generate human language, making complex data easier to grasp.
A RM could ask AI for a report on a particular sector, from a particular period, in a particular postcode. They could ask for the information to be charted and delivered in the form of a presentation. All delivered quickly.
This, alongside information about a business’ industry, interests, need, risks and opportunities, will help empower RMs to make smarter and better decisions – and make their interactions with clients more valuable.
Getting even better
AI is already helping banks be smarter. Reduce risk. Prevent fraud. And it can get even better – if we let it.
Banks must think now about reimagining their services. A report from Microsoft and the Tech Council of Australia in July suggested generative AI could add between $5 billion and $13 billion a year to the Australian professional and financial services sectors by 2030.
At ANZ, we’re already looking at our own ‘version’ of the technology, ZGPT. And results so far have been interesting.
AI will help the banking sector get better at being itself. It's not beyond the realm of possibility to think AI could reimagine how we do customer service in a few short years.
When blockchain first emerged, I used to joke the technology was a solution looking for a problem. AI is not that - it’s a solution already solving problems. And it’s happening right now.
A version of this article was originally published on ANZ Institutional Insights on 14 September 2023
Leigh Mahoney is Head of Wholesale Digital at ANZ