To close the AI talent gap, lenders need a partner

Zest AI team
January 2, 2024

What banks should look for when catching up in AI

In the new year of 2024, we can all agree that any business looking to grow can do so with the help of AI and machine learning. Last year, spending on artificial intelligence was estimated to be between $150 billion and $160 billion — banking being one of the most significant contributors to the figure, making up 13 percent.

The largest banks in the US are using AI in a multitude of ways, with JPMorgan predicting more than 300 use cases for AI across the industry. However, suppose you're not one of the gigantic companies like Google or Meta or even a financial institution the size of Citigroup or Wells Fargo. In that case, you might wonder how exactly you can begin to implement AI. One answer is finding the talent to do so: The right people can help leverage machine learning to benefit lenders across their different businesses.

There is no one solution to implementing AI into your institution, so we’ll give some pointers on what to look for, what to avoid, and how to make the right decision when trying to catch up by implementing AI.

Invest in your future

The main barrier to closing the talent gap in recruiting is limited resources. We find that small banks and credit unions often hesitate to put resources toward the latest tech. Lending is an industry that is slow to adopt new technology and quick to embrace tradition.

Recruiting AI talent does not have to be scary or time-consuming. Instead, see this necessary change as an investment in your institution's future or, rather, what we like to call "future-proofing” — using the knowledge you have now to look down the road and make the best decision for your future business, especially in uncertain times.

You are investing in talent to move you along or even get you started in your AI journey. Automation will ultimately save on costs and risk and even free up space for your bank to enhance the face-to-face experience with the communities you serve. 

With lenders notoriously behind when it comes to innovation, future-proofing with AI isn't just keeping up — it's moving forward and setting a higher standard of innovation for your business.

Bring in the right expertise

There's a much simpler solution to adding innovation to your business and receiving all the benefits of AI. Rather than embarking on this mission on your own as a small bank or credit union, partnering with a fintech company can be revolutionary in jumpstarting the implementation of AI and machine learning to meet your goals and further your growth strategies in 2024.

With an AI partner, you get all the benefits of automation with a much lower lift when it comes to building and maintaining an AI framework. 

However, choosing the right partner makes all the difference. Your partner should be focusing on compliance, safety, and fairness just as much as they focus on innovation. Your partner should continuously let you in on the process and be able to tailor it to your needs and concerns. Implementing AI should not be inaccessible, but it is a complex process where every detail matters — so, go with a partner that will stick with you every step of the way.

Foster an open and collaborative culture

Finally, introducing AI and machine learning to your bank will be a change in technology that must be accompanied by a shift in culture. Closing the gap between small banks and those with seemingly infinite resources will involve new and revitalized attitudes toward innovation in banking. 

Bringing in AI talent means building a team where each member’s strengths, weaknesses, and knowledge complement one another. To set your bank apart while recruiting, be intentional about the people who will build this AI strategy from the ground up. For example, instead of hiring one rock star, look to assemble a team with different skills while incentivizing them with career growth opportunities.

Across your bank, bringing in AI talent will have implications for those in customer-facing roles and those more behind-the-scenes. Data science and AI are booming industries. To recruit and maintain talent, educational and growth opportunities are essential, and these opportunities will benefit the whole bank, not just those building the models but those who will interact with them daily.

Closing the gap…

To prevent a growing distance between smaller and larger banks, innovation and reliable expertise will take your bank far. Future-proofing through automation is well within the grasp of thousands of banks and credit unions with limited resources. As we move into this new year, remember that partnering with a fintech may be the key to building a successful and fruitful AI strategy in 2024.

Want to know more about picking the right fintech partner? Read more here: Why picking the right AI-credit decisioning partner matters

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