New Competition For Wall Street Jobs—A Computer Named Watson

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A computer doling out financial advice to Citigroup clients?

Citigroup has announced it has entered into an agreement with IBM to explore possible uses for its notorious supercomputer, Watson, who put those television quiz show "Jeopardy!" champs to shame.

Under the agreement, Citi will examine the use of Watson's deep content analysis and evidence-based learning capabilities to help improve Citibank's client experience by providing customers with the latest technology to enhance and facilitate service. That will include analyzing customer needs and match those needs to vast amounts of up-to-the-minute financial, economic, product and client data, something most mere humans simply can't do.

Don Callahan, Citi's Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Operations & Technology Officer, said, "We're working to rethink and redesign the various ways in which our customers and clients interact with money. We'll collaborate with IBM to explore how we can use the Watson technology to provide our customers with new, secure services designed around their increasingly digital and mobile lives."

Citigroup is Watson’s first financial services client, says IBM, which is hoping to generate billions in new revenue over the next three years by getting Watson up to speed in finance.

The technology giant has already sold Watson to health care clients, helping WellPoint Inc. (WLP) and Seton Health Family analyze data to improve care.

So, what’s on Watson’s resume?

IBM executives say Watson’s skills include understanding and processing natural language, consulting vast volumes of unstructured information and accurately answering questions with human-like cognition—skills that will bode well for its future in finance.

Bloomberg quotes Manoj Saxena—the man responsible for finding Watson work—as saying that financial services is the "next big one for us.”

Great—just when the job market shows a slight increase in the number of financial jobs, we start getting more competition from machines.

On the other hand, as we reported earlier this week, those FinTech professionals who know how to "work well with big data," and Watson definitely falls into that category, are going to be in demand, which was the assessment of David Leinweber, co-founder for Innovative Financial Technology and author of the book Nerds on Wall Street.

Leinweber said market data has become so large and so fast that people are hard pressed to keep up with them and that "even the machines are hard pressed to keep up with them” which is why he believes the people who thrive today will be those who work well with big data and with machines. He even has a name for them—“algo jockeys”—to make sure the machines are working properly.

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