SunTrust Bank Is Using AI and Other Digital Technologies to Empower Investors

brought to you by WBR Insights

It's estimated approximately $1 trillion in assets will be managed by investment automation technology by the year 2020. Artificial intelligence and other digital technologies are enhancing and supporting the traditional advisor role, and SunTrust is ready to bring these exciting innovations to its own customers.

Changing Demographics

The modern investment client wants to work with partners who are as forward-thinking and receptive of new technology as they are. Investment banking and wealth management has traditionally been viewed as something of an old boys' club, but that's changing now. As baby boomers' wealth acquisition begins to slow and millennials' picks up speed, banks need to bring new technology in to meet these new savvy investors.

"As we continue to evolve, we're looking at important architectural decisions about owning the client experience and ensuring we're working with partners in technologies that are more open," said Consumer Chief Technology Officer at SunTrust Bank, Ken Meyer. "That includes finding ways to rationalize and consolidate their applications, looking across the enterprise at where the company can share solutions and break down those silos. Creating uniformity across processes lends itself to companywide efficiency and makes it easier to repurpose technology from one product, service or process to another."

Some of the new technological innovations SunTrust has recently implemented include:

  • SunView, an online portal which wholesale clients can use to manage their business expenses, as well as a private wealth portal for clients to use.
  • SmartGUIDE, a tool which makes it fast and easy for clients to apply for financing online or through the SunTrust app.
  • Adoption of the digital payments network Zelle.

However, SunTrust is showing no signs of slowing down and has some great ideas on how to use AI to provide new experiences to its wealth management clients.

Artificial Intelligence

AI software can scan and analyze investment options and automatically create recommendations for investors and advisors. AI can complete these tasks much faster than a human employee, which frees up more time for flesh and blood advisors to perform the face-to-face elements of their role.

AI pattern and trend recognition can also spot issues and discrepancies in investment opportunities and flag these before they have the chance to hit investors where it hurts - their bank accounts. Technology could also expedite the underwriting process and reduce associated costs, and is ideal for transactional processes which don't require a human touch. Employees will have more time to work on growing the business. They'll be able to focus on more higher-level tasks, such as exception processing and providing personalized guidance to their clients.

Chatbots are being deployed in many industries, including the wealth management industry. With AI tech becoming more sophisticated, chatbots can act in a manner that is becoming increasingly indistinguishable from real humans. This means that investors can use chatbots to communicate with SunTrust for simple queries, further cutting back on the time human advisors need to spend on such tasks.

"Along with the emphasis on building out a more integrated architecture, two years ago, the company launched a Center of Excellence to study robotics processes automation and desktop automation and currently has over 50 automations currently in production," added Meyer. "Leveraging AI, automation and machine learning tools will also allow SunTrust and the financial industry, in general, to better serve consumers across the board. Eventually, AI will be built into significantly more technology industry-wide."

Final Thoughts

Of course, there are many barriers to implementing technology such as this. Chief among these, especially in the context of the finance industry, is security, which must always be counterbalanced with agility and convenience. Financial considerations aside, digital technology generates enormous amounts of data which must be adequately safeguarded.

Recent high-profile breaches such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and new regulations including the EU's GDPR, have brought the need for data security into sharp focus. This means that any new technology must be brought in gradually and rigorously tested for security flaws at every stage.

"At the end of the day, our clients' data, transactional data and all things data here at the bank are priority number one," explains Meyer. "As SunTrust looks at its technology strategy in tandem with security and compliance, we'll continue to look at how newer capabilities, technologies, and the cloud can help ensure a secure environment for teammates and clients."

You can hear SunTrust Bank's Senior Vice President and Director for the Investment Consulting Group, Will O'Reilly, speak at Digital Wealth 2019, in May, venue TBC.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

Return to Blog