Standard Chartered investing in robots to cut compliance costs
Standard Chartered is moving heavily into radical new technologies that could one day see robots providing bespoke wealth advice and artificial intelligence answering customer questions. The emerging markets-focused British bank has set up a new lab called the eXellerator in Singapore in an attempt to bring theoretical ideas from Silicon Valley to life. Chief executive Bill Winters has put the centre at the heart of a $1.5bn commitment to improving computing and IT systems.
Some of the ideas are also urgently needed cost-saving initiatives. The bank has hired thousands of additional compliance officers in the past three years and last year hiked annual compliance spending by an extra $1bn in an effort to stop workers breaking laws and regulations, in the wake of expensive scandals including the breaking of US sanctions against Iran. To combat this, Standard Chartered wants to run computer systems and artificial intelligence programmes to ensure the regulations are not broken, rather than hiring staff to manually implement them and monitor the results.
"In the last two or three years, almost all banks have added hundreds or thousands of additional people for compliance, to regulate reporting, regulate compliance - now, banks understand what is going on and want a way to make it more efficient," said the bank's global chief innovation officer Anju Patwardhan.