Generative AI & LLM will boost the financial services industry: Shilpa Gupta, MD & Group COO, Equirus
As digital trends are reshaping businesses across industries, the financial services sector is also reaping the benefits of digitalisation. Today, mobile apps for e-payments, investments, loan applications, and a lot more, have given an impetus to the industry, meanwhile technologies like cloud, generative AI, LLM, hold the potential to further push the growth of the sector. Shilpa Gupta, Managing Director and Group Chief Operations Officer, Equirus opened up on the technology-led developments in the financial services sector in an exclusive interview with Express Computer.
What are some technology-led innovations that Equirus has taken recently and how have those helped you optimise your business while enhancing capacities and giving you an edge over the competition?
At Equirus group level, we have several technology-led initiatives running in parallel for the next 48 months with the end objective of elevating the customer experience, improving internal productivity and optimising cost through automation. As part of our ‘One Equirus’ platform orchestration, we are now implementing ONE CRM to better target, acquire, engage and evangelise our clients. Equirus Securities (ESPL), a leading institutional broker, provides low latency market access with Direct Market Access (DMA)/ Sponsored Direct Market Access (SDMA)/ Financial Information Exchange (FIX)/ Block Trading Facility (BTF) facility for clients to trade in Indian markets supported by our expert trader team and advanced Algo suits.
Equirus Wealth (EWPL), a leading wealth management company has recently crossed 100,000 customers and is implementing in-cutting edge house tech tools to serve clients across all three channels – Digital, Hybrid and Hi-Touch. Our PMS business within EWPL is growing very rapidly and is implementing the end-to-end platform for augmenting straight-through-transactions, reporting and compliance capabilities.
Our HNI Broking business within EWPL has recently launched both backend and frontend web and mobile apps for HNI clients. We are currently exploring generative AI and Large Language Model (LLM) capabilities to improve the internal productivity of our Wealth Managers and Research teams.
We hear a lot about generative AI-based tools like Chat GPT and advanced technologies like robotic process automation. Has Equirus adopted such tech? Can you shed light on how such technologies can pose to be game-changers for the investment banking industry?
As part of our five-year technology strategy, we have created a crack team of AI-ML experts and data engineering specialists to pilot certain use cases for generative AI and Large Language Model (LLM) capabilities to improve the internal productivity of our investment banking analysts, wealth managers, and research teams.
We believe AI/ML tools like Chat GPT have a solid impact on our investment banking, wealth management and equity research teams. For example, in terms of investment banking, these tools will be the most useful for collating publicly available data on the client’s specific industry and growth drivers which is used for preparing pitches, information memorandums (IMs) and “teasers” used to market the client companies. Using artificial intelligence and exploring tools like ChatGPT will help investment banks to streamline workloads for juniors for their day-to-day operations being uplifted by applying efficiency in time-consuming manual tasks.
With massive digitalisation ongoing, data has become the most crucial aspect today and so are data centres. What is your take on this? How data centres, be it on-prem or on-cloud, have revolutionised the investment banking industry?
Indeed, data has become the most crucial aspect with a continuous explosion of data, regulatory changes addressing data sovereignty, data consent, and data privacy issues. At Equirus, data security and data privacy are of paramount importance. From data centre strategy perspective, we believe that the financial services industry will continue to adopt a hybrid approach with most applications on-cloud and some sensitive applications on-prem.
For example, in our ESPL business, for the trading platform we prefer to have on-prem/ exchange co-located since in the stock trading business, network latency plays an important role whereas the cloud is considered for peripheral applications.
In your opinion, should hybrid be the approach for your industry or multi-cloud is better?
This is an evolving space and there is no silver bullet or one right approach. With continuous technology innovations and a strong need for data sovereignty, we believe a large part of data centre strategy will be driven by regulatory requirements. For non-critical business applications, on-cloud would be faster to implement.
Being an investment banker you deal with loads of critical data of your customers and partners. What strategies are you implementing to safeguard the data?
At Equirus, we follow strict confidentiality of our client data. Clients trust us with information that helps us think through and provide them with the right financial advice. We take the fiduciary responsibility entrusted upon us very seriously and through our established team structures and IT structures, ensure that the client’s confidential data is kept confidential. The information is shared within the teams only on a “need to know” basis and we thereafter have necessary compliance structures in place so that the client data is used only where it is needed.
What are some upcoming innovations and digital transformation opportunities for Equirus?
In September 2022, we created a separate in-house Technology and Digital function and are annually investing 5 percent to 7 percent of group revenues into tech and digital opportunities. All our businesses, be it Investment Banking, Institutional Equities, Wealth Management, Asset Management or Insurance Broking, have immense potential to grow and we believe a relationship-centric plus technology-augmented approach to clients would hold us in good stead over the next five to 10 years.
Specifically, some of the initiatives include, ONE CRM at the Equirus group level, in-house tools for wealth management, AI-powered assistants for our wealth managers and research teams.