WatersTechnology Innovation Summit Q&A: Stewart Carmichael, Schroders

Schroders CTO Stewart Carmichael discusses what innovation means to the firm ahead of the inaugural WatersTechnology Innovation Summit.

"We're looking to machine learning and AI as a way to unlock new possibilities in our investment processes and to drive operational efficiency." Stewart Carmichael, Schroders

Ahead of the inaugural WatersTechnology Innovation Summit in London on November 15, John Brazier speaks to some of the event's keynote speakers and panelists to find out how the topic of technology innovation is being addressed across both the buy and sell sides. Stewart Carmichael, CTO at Schroders, will be speaking as part of a panel on artificial intelligence and machine learning at the event.

WatersTechnology: What is the best example you can give of technology innovation at Schroders over the past 12 to 18 months?

Stewart Carmichael: There are many examples of technology innovation in Schroders at the moment, so it’s difficult to isolate one. There is a focus on robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI)─we have a robotics pilot in Singapore, which we see as an important way to leverage productivity. We’re looking to machine learning and AI as a way to unlock new possibilities in our investment processes and to drive operational efficiency.

All these areas of technology innovation are being enabled by our adoption of Agile at an enterprise level. We began our Agile transformation 18 months ago and it’s brought about important changes to the way the whole firm tackles technology and digital innovation.

WatersTechnology: What are the primary drivers of innovation within the markets, and how do you expect that to change in the future?

Carmichael: It’s the need for change that drives innovation, and a combination of factors is driving change in asset management. We’re all aware of the margin pressures and burdens from regulation, which is creating a need for greater operating efficiency—technology innovation is the obvious answer to finding those efficiencies.

Also, the industry is in a state of flux, with an increase in mergers and acquisitions activity. Technology is a crucial part of being able to integrate and scale so that the benefit of these deals can be realized. Ultimately, it’s more important than ever for businesses like ours to offer distinctive products built around the ever-changing needs of clients. Technology innovation has to be a part of delivering this distinctiveness.

WatersTechnology: Which emerging technology or technologies do you believe will have the greatest impact on the capital markets, for better or worse?

Carmichael: Everyone is watching blockchain very closely. It’s not easy to see yet exactly what the impact will be on the capital markets but it would be foolish to dismiss its influence. Schroders is a member of the Hyperledger Consortium, which is an open-source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies.

Also, machine learning looks likely to have a profound impact. Any players who can really exploit the rich reserves of data that we have at our disposal and then use that to create ever-more intelligent systems are bound to have a very clear advantage.

WatersTechnology: What is the biggest lesson the capital markets need to learn to facilitate greater development and adoption of new technologies?

Carmichael: The biggest lesson for capital markets is how to undo ingrained habits and re-evaluate long-held assumptions. Culture change is needed across businesses, not just in technology departments. In Schroders we see ourselves as a technology- and data-led business; so we’re building it into our DNA. That means technology has to be part of everyone’s skill set.

The WatersTechnology Innovation Summit, held in London on November 15, will provide a platform to bring together technologists, heads of innovation, business leaders and fintech entrepreneurs to discuss the latest advances in financial technology.

Through a series of interactive sessions, workshops, debates, panel discussions, case studies and roundtables this event will provide you with the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge IT strategy developments, and solutions that are driving innovation and enabling smart business decision-making in major financial institutions today.

Click here for more information on the day’s event, full agenda and how to register.

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