AI and financial services: A threat or a liberator?

To be held on Wednesday, June 19

University of Edinburgh Business School, 29 Buccleuch Pl, Edinburgh


  • Prof. Birgitte Andersen (The Big Innovation Centre)

  • Søren Mortensen (IBM)

  • Emanuela Vartolomei (All Street)

  • Yorick Wilks (University of Sheffield)

  • Taylor Spears (University of Edinburgh)



There has been an awful lot of hype about artificial intelligence – or, as some (mild) sceptics might prefer to call it, “augmented intelligence”. But there is absolutely no doubt that the combination of Big Data, better algorithms and virtually unlimited computing power can overturn long-established business models in any sector. And finance is particularly vulnerable because: (a) it is largely ‘virtual’ anyway; (b) levels of customer satisfaction suggest there is plenty of room for alternative approaches; and (c) “ordinary” intelligence generally hasn’t worked too well…

We have held a couple of round-table discussions on AI, including one in Dentons’s London-based “horizon scanning” series. But this is an opportunity to take the debate North of the border, to the University of Edinburgh’s business school where we will try to tackle the issues raised by machine learning in the financial sector – and, in particular, by the ability of programmes to learn, to adapt, to build on prior experience – and, essentially, to “think”.

I am very pleased that we have been able to put together a panel that includes three of those who spoke at our London event:

  • Birgitte Andersen, is CEO (and “co-creator”) of the Big Innovation Centre, a London-based investment hub. A Professor at Birkbeck College, she is an expert in business innovation, productivity and intellectual property, including policy proposals to enhance economic growth.

  • Søren Mortensen, is Director of Business Transformation at IBM. His responsibilities include innovation in financial markets, covering developments in cognitive and blockchain technology.

  • Emanuela Vartolomei, is founder and CEO of All Street, which is dedicated to democratising access to investment via crowdfunding and shared knowledge. An economist, her financial services experience spans corporate banking and asset management.

In addition, we are to add two newcomers:

  • Yorick Wilks is Emeritus Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Sheffield, a visiting professor at Gresham College and a senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute. He is one of the fathers of natural language computing and the developer of “preference semantics”.

  • Taylor Spears is a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s Business School and the Edinburgh Futures Institute, where he is responsible for work in FinTech and financial innovation.

Phew… This is a heavyweight panel that will not be easily cowed. These people know their onions. If you (or a friend/colleague North of the Border) would like to join us for what should be a pretty definitive experience, please let us know by emailing or by calling the Centre on 0207 621 1056. Fortunately, there will be wine and nibbles; we may need them.

Sincerely yours,

Andrew Hilton



* If you cannot attend, but know of people in or around Edinburgh (colleagues, friends etc) who might be interested, please let them know.