Meet Clara Durodié: A technology strategist specializing in ethical artificial intelligence (AI) for business growth and profitability in financial services.
Clara is internationally recognized for her expertise in corporate governance of AI, strategy, business performance, digital transformation, and strategic use of data. She is an adviser to corporate boards, investment funds, and governments. She is also a mentor, investor, and non-executive director of AI and fintech companies.
In 2015, Clara started scoping the research for her PhD, which sits at the intersection of neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and wealth management. Clara recently authored “Decoding AI in Financial Services” the first book on strategy with AI for boards in financial services. Her focus is on how episodic memory informs how people save and invest and has direct application in AI design in retail banking and wealth management.
More than half of banks are said to be investing in artificial intelligence, but Durodie is concerned that decision makers have not thought out how AI will affect both their businesses and customers. AI can have profound impacts on banks’ bottom lines, but AI-based models often contain the prejudices of those who built or trained the algorithms. Further, since machine learning computations can be black boxes to anyone not trained in their intricacies, loan officers may have a hard time satisfying regulators as to why their expensive Ai underwriting model would up delivering discriminatory results. We are at the beginning of understanding how AI will interact with traditional systems, or supplant them entirely, and work from experts such as Durodie will serve as critical guideposts as the financial services industry and many other industries find their way in this new world.
Tell us more about what you do and how you moved into your space.
When I left the corporate world, I had a clear objective to build technology that redefines trust in financial services while upholding high standards of corporate governance. I learnt how to code. I then studied the intersection of artificial intelligence, neuroscience and wealth management. My focus was on examining how episodic memory informs how we save and invest.
In 2016, I set up Cognitive Finance Group. We started offering strategic advisory to corporate boards. We advise them on the strategic deployment of AI in business environment. We also offer data science advisory. Our clients call us in when they need to select AI vendors or solve complex data science implementation. We have experience in addressing process optimisation problems in back office, HR and customer on-boarding.
What role do you play in the tech ecosystem and why is that role important?
My role is to bridge AI technologies with corporate governance and real-world business challenges. My work is to empowering the corporate Boards to lead with confidence and commit to strategic business transformation with AI. This translates into organisations being more competitive.
How has technology impacted your industry and why is this important?
Before I left the corporate world in 2014, I had seen business indicators that everything was about to change. For instance the exponential growth of the volume and velocity of data coupled with inadequate IT infrastructure and software, meant that organisations needed to keep hiring people. It is not sustainable to keep throwing human capital at an exponentially growing problem. Human capital is the most expensive resource. AI technologies were needed to address exponential growth in data’s volume and velocity.
What do you believe is the most exciting tech trend for 2019 (as it relates to your industry)?
Financial services industry has entered a defining phase: redefining trust with technology. The narrative has changed. The winners will be those institutions that become the trusted custodians of their customers’ data as well as their customers’ money. This impacts business models and review models. This change is about three ingredients (1) AI, (2) business strategy and (3) corporate governance. The Board of Directors need to lead this change.
Who is a person that inspires you? Why?
My work is multidisciplinary so I have the good fortune to meet exceptional people from financial services, fintech, academia and technology. It is very difficult to select one person. However, I think Ron Suber is the supreme embodiment of hands-on experience, wisdom and business acumen coupled with a solid grasp of technology. He is a visionary.
What advice would you give for someone who wants to get into your space?
A lot of people regard me as a curiosity — moving from traditional financial services into the cutting edge of business transformation with AI. You have to be intellectually curious and excited about what the future holds. You need to like reading a lot. I’m a voracious reader. You also have to have the courage to move from traditional financial services into AI. It can be frightening. But courage is not the absence of fear. On the contrary, courage means recognising your fear and act despite it. And as you become more courageous, you need to hold on to your integrity. Integrity is doing the right thing when no one watches you. And so this is what you need: courage, integrity and intellectual curiosity.
My book Decoding AI in Financial Services is the first book that bridges (1) real world business challenges (2) academic grade research and (3) corporate governace to provide business leaders and corporate boards with the knowledge they need to deliver business transformation with AI.
You can pre-order it here https://www.cognitivefinance.ai/product-page/DecodingAI
The profits from selling the book go to charitable causes (global reforestation and education). Each copy sold pays for planting a tree. One book, one tree.