Are the humans of finance an endangered species?
People are still the lubricant that oils the wheels of finance, toiling at innumerable tasks—executing and settling trades, writing analysis, monitoring risk. That’s about to change.
Squeezed by low interest rates, shrinking trading revenue, and nimbler technology-based competitors, banks are racing to remake themselves as digital companies to cut costs and better serve clients. In other words, they’re preparing for the day that machines made by men and women take over more of what used to be the sole province of humans: knowledge work. Call it self-disruption.
Consider venerable State Street, a 224-year-old custody bank that predates the steam locomotive and caters to institutional investors such as pensions and mutual funds. In February, State Street executives told analysts that after spending five years upgrading technology systems, they realized how much more could be done. “We have 20,000 manual interventions on trades every day,” said Michael Rogers, president of the Boston bank. “There’s a huge opportunity to digitize that and move it forward electronically.”