GenAI in finance and insurance – the leap is getting closer

Luc Williams

Almost 90 percent CEOs of the world's largest companies believe that the use of generative artificial intelligence is their highest priority – according to a survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) among several thousand CEOs. According to BCG, thanks to the use of AI, productivity can be increased by 10-20% and process efficiency by up to 50%. At the same time, almost half of employees (46%) will have to acquire new skills in the next three years.

The direction is one thing, the practice of implementing genAI is another.

– Companies are currently experimenting. In our study, 90 percent CEOs are assessed as watching what will happen rather than diving deep. That's one problem. Secondly, there is a lack of people for such activities and a large implementation roadmap. There is also a lack of proficiency – said Franciszek Hutten-Czapski, managing director & senior partner at BCG Poland, in his speech introducing the discussion “Managing the future: using GenAI in finance and insurance”.

As he concluded, genAI is currently used to a lesser extent.

An important moment is approaching

In the opinion of Magdalena Progi-Stępień, member of the management board of Santander Bank Polska, companies are learning new technology. They have been using artificial intelligence for many years.

– However, in the case of generative artificial intelligence, which has the potential of the next great revolution, we are actually at the beginning. We are learning, she said, emphasizing the importance of an appropriate approach to threats.

Financial institutions, by their nature, must pay special attention not only to the quality, but also to the security of the implemented solutions. In the case of genAI, it is difficult to speak of a mature phase of use for now.

Nevertheless, as the opinions of the discussion participants showed, the moment that can be considered a breakthrough is getting closer.

Brunon Bartkiewicz, president of the management board of ING Bank Śląski, estimated that small steps will soon translate into big effects.

– The thing about technology is that it is characterized by exponential growth. As long as we start, which can sometimes take many years, these changes are not visible, and then the moment comes when we all marvel. ChatGPT is undoubtedly a great revolution, but the possibilities of use will come over time, he said, adding that there is a potential huge increase in productivity in the future.

Magdalena Dziewguć, country director of Google Cloud Poland, also stated that the noticeable change is a matter of a short time.

– This is definitely a revolutionary technology that will redefine everything in traditional business and it will happen in the next few years – she presented the forecast.

Przemysław Koch, member of the management board of VeloBank, indicated as an example of the use of genAI in his organization a bot that evaluates products placed on the platform in terms of compliance with ESG goals.

– If it weren't for genAI, an army of people would have to do it, because we already have over a million products on the platform – he described.

The bot reads the description and verifies whether the product is ecological, whether it was produced in a socially responsible way and whether it can be found on the platform. If the verification is negative, the next part is handled by a human.

– We are at the beginning of our journey and it is not the case that we will immediately see an increase in efficiency by 50 percent, this efficiency is higher for now, at the level of 10-20 percent, because the organization is learning how to use this technology. We expect that this curve will soon grow exponentially – he said, thus matching the forecasts announcing an imminent jump.

Błażej Szczecki, vice-president of the management board of Bank Pekao SA, also shared his experience related to implementations. He noted that the bank focused first on the use of generative artificial intelligence in internal processes.

– We have six applications that allow us to speed up certain processes, such as Empatia, which was created by our engineers, analyzing comments left by customers (concerning the PeoPay application – ed.) and providing synthetic information to our developers on what to improve – he pointed out. – To be honest, this is the beginning of a certain path. On the one hand, we are trying to build our own competences, and on the other hand, we are trying to use hyperscanners such as Google and Microsoft and their engines. We will definitely use artificial intelligence. I see it as a huge opportunity to improve the interaction between the customer and the bank, emphasized Błażej Szczecki, mentioning, among others, possible acceleration of the credit process.

Jarosław Mastalerz, member of the management board of PZU Życie, talking about the use of generative artificial intelligence, drew attention to a topic that is of particular importance for financial institutions. It is about the sensitivity of internal data and its confidential nature. However, he added, genAI can be a supporting tool.

– We have a large software house, hundreds of people work there, and of course we will give them ChatGPT or maybe a Google product – it depends on which one is cheaper – and we will say: you can use it, not: you have to use it. If the IT specialist is very, very efficient, it would actually be a waste of time for him, said a representative of PZU Życie.

As the participants' statements showed, organizations implement genAI to various extents, adapting it to their and sector's specificity.

– Everyone is simply doing their own thing to some extent and suddenly it will turn out that we are already at the top of the curve, but we won't know it because we will get used to it and stop talking about it – Franciszek Hutten-Czapski summed up this part of the discussion.

There's no need to be afraid

In the context of breakthrough new technologies, we often talk about people. It was similar during the discussion at the ECF, and it was dominated by two threads: opportunities that are worth taking advantage of and fears that need to be dispelled.

– This technology will take away a lot of simple activities that we do and take up our time; it will free up a lot of space for us to create new things, said Magdalena Dziewguć. – But we have to learn this technology, so I encourage you to include training and development programs in your budgets – she emphasized.

As she said, investing in employees will make them choose the right technology catalog. In turn, excessive focus on the technology itself will make people afraid of it.

Brunon Bartkiewicz extended the theme of fears, referring to one of the basic fears of losing jobs.

– Of course people are afraid, among other things, because in the media AI and job loss are two words that go side by side, which is absurd. We live in a world where sensationalism is constantly sought and threats are made against our society. Meanwhile, if there is to be a reduction in employment, it will concern people least involved in the creation of the development of products and services, he concluded. – We are constantly looking for highly qualified employees, just like the entire economy – he said, emphasizing that we need people who can function using new technologies and understand them.

Magdalena Proga-Stępień drew attention to the need to communicate changes to the team.

– With every new technology or revolution there is fear and questions. This is inevitable, but therefore education, communication and explanation should also be inevitable as to what this technological revolution will serve us for, why we should be among the first to understand it well and gain competences on how to use it – said a member of the management board Santander Bank Polska.

If anyone may feel threatened, it is those who will not use new technologies.

– Without generative AI, organizations may soon become so less effective that they will lose their market position, and we can actually talk about potential job losses – commented Magdalena Proga-Stępień.

However, Jarosław Mastalerz also saw the basis of fear in culture.

– You don't even have to look at those journalists who are threatening today, just look at all those writers, all those filmmakers who laid such foundations that we are all just terribly afraid of this technology, he noted.

Przemysław Koch emphasized the human ability to adapt to changes and drew attention to the young generation entering the labor market.

– It is so good at absorbing new technologies that the revolution will come from below – he argued. – Darwin once said that man is at the top of the evolutionary ladder, not because he is the strongest or the smartest, but because he is the best at adapting to change. I am confident about all of us, especially Poles – we will adapt to this change, we will use new technology to make it easier for us in simple everyday life activities, and for organizations to meet customer expectations more easily, he said.

In turn, Błażej Szczecki drew attention to the significant role of the management staff in the entire process.

– Let's start with ourselves. These technologies are a certain opportunity, it only depends on us, on the leaders, whether and to what extent we have the determination to overcome all these fears – encouraged the vice-president of Bank Pekao SA

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Luc's expertise lies in assisting students from a myriad of disciplines to refine and enhance their thesis work with clarity and impact. His methodical approach and the knack for simplifying complex information make him an invaluable ally for any thesis writer.