Amidst the roaring winds and relentless rain brought by Storm Ciarán, brave and hardy souls from the funds industry sought refuge at One Moorgate Place – home of Chartered Accountants' Hall – to explore the future of fund distribution in an ever-evolving AI-driven landscape.
This FE fundinfo event, aptly titled "Better Connected: Optimise to Thrive," brought together a diverse range of expert speakers to discuss how the fund industry can prepare for the challenges and opportunities presented by artificial intelligence.
The afternoon session began with a welcoming introduction by FE fundinfo's new CEO, Liam Healy, who set the stage for a series of engaging and thought-provoking discussions.
The event kicked off with a captivating talk by Philip Fumey, Chief Technology Lead at Microsoft, who proclaimed that we find ourselves in a "period of change that is powered by AI."
Philip emphasised that AI's influence will touch every industry across the globe and that leveraging AI can help businesses leapfrog over inefficient processes, ultimately improving customer satisfaction. He cited the astounding statistic that 85% of global organisations believe AI will provide them with a competitive edge, with an additional 44% expecting it to reduce costs.
Furthermore, he underscored the omnipresence of AI, using the example of ChatGPT, which garnered 10 million users in its first 40 days and stated that the projected value of AI is set to increase by 13-fold, by reaching $15.7 trillion by 2030!
Microsoft's plan is to harness AI to create meaningful business value, leading to intelligent applications that outpace the competition and faster delivery of new products, ultimately enhancing customer engagement. Importantly, Philip stressed that AI should be seen as a tool to assist people rather than replace them, and that 64% of employees express a desire to embrace AI in their work.
He concluded by saying that Microsoft together with FE fundinfo aim to create better connections in an AI-driven world.
The stage then shifted to Mik Bates, Regulation Manager at FE fundinfo, who provided a comprehensive overview of the regulatory landscape in both the UK and the EU.
In his presentation, Mik explained how regulatory changes are being implemented to improve existing systems, including modifications to EU PRIIPS KID (Key Information Document) documents. However, he also highlighted a sobering statistic, revealing that fewer than 3% of individuals actually read regulated pre-contracted fund disclosure documents.
Following his presentation, two representatives from South Pole, Nadia Kähköen, Global Director of Communications, and Andres Cassallas Ramirez, Global Associate Director of Sustainable Finance, shed light on the difficulties businesses face in communicating their green credentials.
They used the term "greenhushing" to describe the unsettling trend of companies choosing not to disclose their environmental efforts. It was revealed that in a 2022 survey, developed by South Pole, 20% of UK business respondents admitted to greenhushing, while 40% acknowledged that they were not on track to meet their climate targets. Notably, 74% of the surveyed companies in the UK claimed to have increased their net-zero budgets, even though over a third found meeting these targets more challenging than expected.
FE fundinfo's Asset Manager Product Strategy Lead, Emily Pennells, took the stage next to discuss innovative changes happening with the Fund Information Hub. She provided an in-depth exploration of the product and explained that the value chain serves as the backbone connecting all related services. The Fund Information Hub is designed to empower users by helping them efficiently and effectively manage their work, enabling them to stay informed and competitive in a rapidly evolving industry.
The event concluded with a dynamic panel discussion hosted by David Bower, Head of Global Institutional Business Development at FE fundinfo. The panellists included Selma Coffey, CEO of Waystone Investments, Jon Pedley, Head of Product, Digital Wealth at Franklin Templeton, and Sam Seaton, CEO of Moneyhub. The trio deliberated on ways the fund industry could "optimise to thrive," with Sam Seaton noting that, historically, “as an industry we are not the ferocious consumers of new technology”.
As the event concluded – having highlighted the transformative power of AI in the fund distribution industry – it was evident that, in an AI-driven landscape, the key to thriving lies in embracing change, fostering better connections, and seizing the opportunities presented by evolving technology.
The fund industry must adapt and adopt these transformative technologies to remain relevant and competitive in the ever-evolving landscape.
Steven Kennedy, Senior PR Manager, FE fundinfo