Day 2 Highlights - AI in Finance Summit, New York

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Following an incredibly busy first day of the AI in Finance Summit which explored cutting-edge advancements in research and AI tools and techniques, we were excited to return today to shift focus to the latest applications of AI in Finance.

The morning kicked off by celebrating innovative startups using AI for Finance, in which compère, Teal Willingham introduced with great enthusiasm, working with startups herself at NYC’s first tech incubator and largest community of AI startups in the city, NYU Tandon Future Labs.

Bryan Healey began this session, presenting how he has utilized the powerful tools of deep learning to build Aiera and automate equity research. FinBrain Technologies followed this with great confidence as Ahmet Salim Bilgin stated they have built “one algorithm to rule them all!”  

Ending the startup session in purposeful style, ID R&D are leading the way in the “Age of bAIometrics”. Alexey Khitrov said that “Authentication is traditionally the worst part of the user experience, which we are solving at ID R&D. We use AI as we have found it greatly enhances the biometric algorithms”. Their solutions, in particular, look to solve the ‘wake-up words’ or false activation problem, now able to make significant distinctions to overcome this successfully.


The remainder of morning sessions focused on larger industry applications of AI in Finance.

Santiago Braje and Alexander De Souza from ING Bank shared their work on developing bond trading tool, Katana, a case study of developing “Augmented Intelligence in Financial Markets”. Increasing accessibility, the duo split the presentation in half, with Santiago first detailing the market maker’s problem and the purpose behind the development of Katana and Alexander explaining an insight into what lies under the hood; algorithmic performance. ING Bank developed Katana in house on XGBoost and worked with a wide variety of open source tooling, processes that assisted in dealing with the stochastic nature of financial markets.  


Our Twitter ambassadors - @Lum, @Forge_AI, @johnjnay, @shleetwi - shared great content with the online community during the summit, as did the rest of our attendees:

“I enjoyed the wide variety of talks and workshops at the AI in Finance Summit. As a student, it was interesting to hear work from both professors and industry members. I’m very glad I came” - Neha Chanu, University of Pittsburgh

What else did we hear today?

  1. Laura McKiernan Boylan made waves by giving attendees an overview into the algorithmic underwriting processes for life insurance at Haven Life, stating that they have discovered that using both tree-based and deterministic datasets working in tandem provides the best profile. Laura began by stressing that there is a real opportunity to use technology to improve consistency in the underwriting decisions that they make.

  2. Andrew Clark (Capital One) stated that when considering auditing machine learning, it is important that we look at it holistically, collaborating with different teams over an organization. One tool that Capital One has developed is an “unsupervised learning data exploration environment”, in the face of Audit’s problem of having lots of data in different places. This solution allows them to manage access to data over a vast number of locations. Andrew concluded with this work on NLP text classifications. Find out more about Andrew’s work on our blog here.

  3. Francis Z Lin also led a popular workshop on Supervised Machine Learning Model Selection. Francis’ key takeaway philosophy was that “simple models that predict really well and are easy to interpret are always better than complex models that overfit the training data”

  4. Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Cristian Homescu stressed that one of the main challenges for investment management is to create a portfolio which is diversified. The application of Machine Learning in investment and wealth management assisting with this problem includes the applications of Machine Learning algorithms for classification, network analysis, and clustering as well as forecasting and prediction.

Throughout the summit, we also recorded episodes of the Women in AI Podcast and filmed exclusive speaker interviews which will be available on the RE•WORK Digital Content Hub. We gained insight with Mark Weber, Researcher at MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab as well as Alexander De Souza & Santiago Braje from ING Bank, on their journeys into AI and finance as well as the current challenges they were facing in their research. In the coming weeks you’ll be able to listen to episodes from Peggy Tsai (Morgan Stanley Wealth Management), Yvonne Li (FINRA) and Laura McKiernan Boylan (Haven Life). They will be sharing their journey in AI as well as some tips of how to get started in the field.  So don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled!


The hotely anticipated afternoon sessions launched with Anton Prokopyev, Data Scientist at The World Bank who discussed his work applying AI to International Trade, specifically using machine learning for identifying non-tariff measures.

Next, Mark Weber provided an overview of the new MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, a $240 million joint research initiative that aims to be the world’s leading academic-industry research alliance in AI. Following this, Mark shared a shared his thoughts on the important role of finance in society for everyday people, challenges of detecting financial crime and terrorism in massive graph datasets as well as featured current research on developing new methods for deep learning on massive, dynamic graph-structured data on FastGCN. - this building on breakthrough work by Chen, Ma, and Xiao on FastGCN. Issued an invitation to financial services companies to join the lab as members to collaborate on research and applications.

We were honored that for the final presentation of the day Manuela Veloso, who has recently taken up a new position of Head of A.I Research at J.P. Morgan joined us to share her thoughts on both AI and autonomous agents and how AI is developing at the corporation.

“J.P. Morgan is a fantastic environment for a researcher and a developer and it is fascinating for me to see how AI can make a difference there. The main problem though, as always, is DATA. How to we deal with data in the most effective way and harness it?”

Also, Manuela believes that “Reinforcement learning is extremely powerful but what makes it powerful also makes it dangerous when applying it to the real world”.

Unfortunately, all great things must come to an end and the final session of the day brought together Elena Mesropyan (MEDICI), Jimmi Shah (J.P. Morgan), Chris Wallace (Greycroft) and Catherine Flax (Pefin) who discussed “FinTech & The Traditional Banking Sector: Bridging The Gap”, a panel centered around the current and future relationships between different players in the financial sector with regard to rapidly developing technology such as AI.

First of all, Chris mentioned that essentially financial institutions and FinTechs are both trying to find a solution to something, and although banks are contributing to this effort greatly, the main advancements are going to be from the ground up.

Jimmi Shah said that there is a feeling that FinTech companies are disruptive and people ask why would a large institution want to partner with them? Jimmi then went on to share his own views, believing in an opposing truth; “I see FinTech companies as true partners who help J.P. Morgan solve our business problems, be more creative and be more diverse”.  Catherine agrees, having been on both sides of the field and thinks that the fundamental difference in the ability to harness innovation in a purposeful manner is organizational. Organisation change is harder in a large organization and FinTech companies do not have this problem due to the flatter nature.

Elena interesting summarized: “Once, relationships between startups and financial institutions was originally thought to be one of competition, when in fact there is this beautiful friendship that is clearly evolving in many different ways”


With plenty of knowledge and valuable professional connections, attendees departed the AI in Finance Summit. We would like to thank all speakers and attendees for joining us to discover the latest AI tools & techniques and their application in the financial sector!

Are you interested in joining us at a future RE•WORK Summit? See a full calendar listing of our upcoming events here.

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AI FinTech Financial Compliance Financial Forecasting Retail Finance Finance Business Applications Leveraging AI


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