Embracing Generative AI: Balancing Potential and Risks in Business Operations

From Problem to Solution

AI is not new, but the effect that Generative AI and Large Language Models have had on the world in the last few years has been nothing short of revolutionary. Entire industries have been transformed overnight, and the breakneck pace of development shows no signs of slowing down – if anything, it seems to be increasing as the AI arms race ramps up.

At Cambridge Partners, we recognise the incredible potential of AI to support, streamline and advance our business. We also recognise the associated risks with accuracy, privacy, and compliance, and we aim to balance these as we develop our approach to AI. Our overarching belief in the power of human relationships and the value this provides to our clients remains unchanged, but we recognise the tremendous potential in utilising AI within our business.   

Given this explosion in popularity, we are carefully looking for applicable use cases for Generative AI within our business.

  • ChatGPT was early on the scene and started our thinking about natural language conversations (being able to ask for an answer in the context of a specific question). We see immediate potential in a personalised model that could answer internal questions about our processes, compliance obligations, or best working methods.
  • Alongside this, there is strong potential in the onboarding of new employees and the training and support of existing employees. Support for technical processes like Excel and other programmes will allow our team to develop skills in areas they need support in, with context-aware examples and feedback as they learn.
  • As generative AI starts expanding in capabilities we see strong application within our compliance functions. Trained models checking work, providing feedback and recommendations to our advice team could help improve the quality of work and help us go above and beyond the compliance regime we work in.
  • AI-powered insights, tasks and summarisation of meetings have shown promise in a range of companies and may have direct application to our work. These rapid advances in capability convinced us of the potential of AI to support our human team.

Retaining the skills and personal touch that make us unique while empowering our teams through workflow support, training, and automation will become key to our approach. The more we talk to other businesses, visionaries, and thought leaders, the clearer it is that there are a range of potential applications for us. Just as clear is that there are many considerations for us to undertake before deploying this into our business.

As with all new tools and processes, we identified and considered the risks and potential downsides of using GenAI throughout our business. With emerging and disruptive technology, there can sometimes be a rush to adopt products without a clear framework of what companies are trying to solve. Generative AI is a powerful tool, but one that isn’t restricted or defined as much as previous or more specific tools are. One of the most public shortcomings of LLMs (large language models) is their ability to confidently ‘hallucinate’ or invent answers. Many models seem incapable of saying they don’t know the answer to something and instead will create answers to fill this gap. There are other considerations around the copyright of text and images, and the ownership of an AI-created piece of work is still to be finalised.

Additionally, the regulatory environment we operate in is prescriptive regarding much of our documentation, and we are ultimately accountable for the advice we deliver. Finally, and most importantly, is the trust our clients place in us to protect their sensitive information, provide accurate recommendations, deliver good client outcomes and do this in a way that considers their personal circumstances. Much of this information may not be recorded in the data points in our system, and so it would be hard to replicate with an AI tool. These risks dictate that we need a considered and measured approach to this (and any new) technology – one that balances the potential upside in efficiency, compliance and capability with the downsides and risks.

My job as IT Manager is to critically examine all potential technology initiatives, ensure our compliance and security requirements are met, and deploy robust solutions that solve business problems. Given the potential of AI systems, there is much hype; however, we need to ensure our approach to AI is fit for purpose, delivered with trust and confidence to our team, and will not expose our clients or the business to risk.

We are closely following trends and looking for solutions that make sense, but we are not rushing to deploy ‘AI’ throughout our business. The core component of Cambridge Partners is the relationships between our advisers and clients, and we definitely don’t plan on replacing that. By working with experts and engaging with other firms and technology providers, we will strengthen our team with the goal of keeping us at the forefront of capabilities in terms of client service, privacy, compliance and operational efficiencies.

Written by Jack Craig, IT Manager at Cambridge Partners

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