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Focus on Funds

Asset Managers Are Reinventing Fund Operations Through New Technologies

Artificial intelligence and robotics are allowing funds to create powerful new tools to help investors meet their savings goals. In the February 7, 2020, edition of Focus on Funds, ICI Chief Industry Operations Officer Marty Burns outlines the findings from a recent survey by ICI and Accenture examining operations and technology.


Stephanie Ortbals-Tibbs, ICI director of media relations: Fund industry operations continues to change fast. That’s the finding of a recent research collaboration that you and Accenture did. I’m talking with ICI Chief Industry Operations Officer Marty Burns.

Marty Burns, ICI chief industry operations officer: What we found coming out of that report was that 50 percent of those that responded have an initiative in place to begin to change the way they do things and improve their efficiency.

Ortbals-Tibbs: A lot of people look at what they’re doing in the area of data analytics just to start.

Burns: Data is king. In operations in particular, data [has] become a key for making changes in building out the structure. Data drives the use of artificial intelligence tools. And those tools are really used to create a better platform for customer service, for data security, for trading and the analytics and compliance around trading.

Another interesting piece to that was we had about 40 to 50 percent of the respondents say that they have RPA [robotic process automation], or robotics, in place now. Eighty percent of those folks say that they actually see the RPA—those robotics—meeting their expectations. In combination with AI [artificial intelligence], robotics and AI together make a very powerful tool that members are beginning to see, use, put into place to really improve their efficiency.

Ortbals-Tibbs: Did you ever know when you started in this industry so many years ago what things would look like today?

Burns: When I started in this industry, we still did trades on paper and delivered them in envelopes, and it would have been the farthest thing from anybody’s mind that we would be to the point now where the tools and the automation [has] become so pervasive in the industry and provides the power to really move the industry forward to ultimately create the best solutions and the best benefits for our investors.

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