Robotics will bring down costs and change the superannuation industry workforce for the better, says JPMorgan’s Tancy Tan, who is the bank’s head of robotics for the Asia-Pacific region.

Singapore-based Tan, who works for one of the world’s earliest adopters of robotics in the financial sector, says Australian super funds have moved on from talking about the technology to meeting with robotic software vendors.

“One of the objectives of robotics is really to free up people from mundane, repetitive tasks, so that humans can channel their energy into creating better products and innovative solutions – the areas that add value to a business,” Tan says. “Definitely, over the next two to three years, all organisations will be jumping on the bandwagon.”

Software capable of machine learning and making forecasts by feeding on an enormous amount of data will soon provide super funds and their clients with real-time information about portfolio investments and be a 24/7 online assistant that can speak multiple languages, Tan predicts.

While other sectors, and governments, have already embraced artificial intelligence-powered technologies to underpin better online retail, advertising and customer service, the financial services sector is just now catching up, Tan says.

Impressive AI trials

JPMorgan’s trading arm has been testing an AI program called LOXM to execute equities trades at maximum speed and optimal prices, and to offload large equity stakes without causing market swings, after being trained on billions of historical transactions to enable it to do so.

In LOXM’s trials, it has delivered significant savings and outperformed existing manual and automated trading methods.

Tan says AI will be more mature in five years but may take a back seat to other emerging technologies in the financial sector, such as blockchain.

“JPMorgan is one of the early adopters of robotics, but I’ve been talking to a lot competitors and everybody has started their robotics journey,” she says. “If you look at it in broad terms, the technology mimics what users do, data crunching and performing analysis. Some people say this is the next industrial revolution, changing the role of the workforce just as automation has done with manufacturing.”

The technology is more likely to improve the work done by super fund employees than replace them, Tan says.

“Robotics will bring down costs, which adds value for super funds,” she says. “Robotics is changing the role of the workforce in the financial services industry.”

Tan’s advice to financial services professionals is to think about how they can co-exist with robotics.

“The robotics revolution is here,” she says. “It’s not the future, it’s current. So don’t stand in front to block or stop, stand beside it to make your life better and smarter.”

Tan spoke to Investment Magazine ahead of delivering her presentation titled: “Robotics, artificial intelligence and digitisation − what will it mean for super funds?” at CMSF 2018 on Wednesday, March 14.

READ MORE: All the coverage from CMSF 2018