Citigroup Inc. is planning to grant the majority of its over 40,000 coders access to generative artificial intelligence as Wall Street continues to embrace the burgeoning technology.
As part of a small pilot program, the Wall Street giant has quietly allowed about 250 of its developers to experiment with generative AI, the technology popularized by ChatGPT. Now, it’s planning to expand that program to the majority of its coders next year.
The bank and its rivals have slowly begun experimenting with the technology, which created waves last year when ChatGPT made its debut and showed how generative AI can produce sentences, essays or poetry based on a user’s simple questions or commands. The technology typically creates this new work after being trained on vast quantities of pre-existing material.
Increasingly, bank executives argue artificial intelligence will make their staffers more efficient. Like when federal regulators dropped 1,089 pages of new capital rules on the US banking sector, Citigroup combed through the document word by word using generative AI.
The bank’s risk and compliance team used the technology to assess the impact of the plans, which will determine how much capital the lender has to set aside to guard against future losses. Generative AI organized the proposal into pieces and composed key takeaways, which the team then presented to the outgoing treasurer Mike Verdeschi.
At Citigroup, the advent of ChatGPT sparked a concerted push to use artificial intelligence. In response, earlier this year the bank formed two task forces to explore potential uses for the technology, according to Stuart Riley, the bank’s co-chief information officer who is overseeing the effort.
“This is across every part of the bank,” Riley said in an interview. “Some of them are small, helping with daily routine, and others are complex bodies of work.”
Bank staffers have been increasingly worried that the technology might replace them. That’s not so, according to Riley. Whether AI or employees generate a line of code, it will still need human oversight, he said.
“Humans still look at the code to make sure it’s doing what they expected it to do. They are still supervising, like a co-pilot,” he said. “The AI tool is given to the developer to enable them to produce code more quickly – it’s not replacing them. We are using AI to amplify the power of our employees.”
JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon expressed a similar sentiment this month when he said AI is likely to make dramatic improvements to workers’ quality of life, including cutting the work week down to three-and-a-half days for some. The technology is already being used by thousands at his bank, he said, and between February and April, the lender advertised for more than 3,500 related roles, according to data from consultancy Evident.
Citigroup is also exploring modernizing its systems using AI, a process which would ordinarily cost millions of dollars and require substantial manpower, according to Riley. To update legacy systems, the banking giant needs to change the coding language and AI can help translate that from an older one like Cobol into a more modern one like Java.
The bank is examining ways to use generative AI to analyze documentation and generate content. To hasten the process of parsing reams of quarterly results, AI can analyze earnings and other public documents, freeing up staff to spend more time with clients rather than crunching numbers.
Scanning data sets for errors and anomalies and improving data reconciliation are other use cases the bank is looking at. Riley cited portfolios of loans and the payments and data that’s connected to them. AI can help ensure payments are being made in line with the loan contracts, he said.
“It’s a way of completing the cycle, speeding up the processes and improving the end-to-end accuracy of the transactional record, back to the legal contract,” Riley said.
Citigroup also sees using large language models — the type of AI algorithm that summarizes vast data sets — to digest legislation and regulation in the countries it operates to ensure it’s in compliance with those rules. As a global bank, abiding by regulation in each jurisdiction can become onerous.
“If you’re a large bank and you want to make sure you abide by every standard around the world, its very important,” Riley said. “This allows a map of sorts, where you know you’re abiding by the laws and regulations.”
And as it’s testing the technology, the bank is ensuring it has controls in place so that it fits within Citigroup’s risk parameters. Now, Riley says Citigroup employees have pitched the bank on more than 350 use cases for artificial intelligence.