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Citi suggests that developers earning $400 an hour in banks are immune to AI incursions

If you haven't noticed already, Citi released a large report on AI in finance last week which said that 54% of jobs in financial services are susceptible to AI automation and that a further 12% of jobs could be "augmented" by AI.

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The report includes charts like the one below, explaining that software developers are likely to be hit hardest and soonest by the introduction of AI to the financial services industry. 

It also contains charts like the other one below, suggesting that as AI is introduced into front office jobs like research, it will be fine because AI will simply halve the time spent writing earnings reports and cut the time reading company documents and gathering data, while increasing time spent on fun things like idea generation and client visits. 

Even as AI sweeps across software engineering jobs, however, Citi's report suggests that some roles will be safer than others. Writing in the report, Sandeep Alur, a Director at Microsoft Technology Center, says that AI models have been trained on open source code written in popular languages like Python and Java, and are therefore proficient in both. As AI renders software engineers more efficient, Java and Python engineers seem most at risk of "optimisation."

However, large language models have less access to training data in more obscure languages. Alur says LLMs can't write code in ABAP (a SAP language) and that they can't write code in COBOL either. If banks want an LLM to write COBOL code, he suggests they'll have to create a "bespoke solution," which sounds expensive.

The implication is that the mythical consultants earning $400 an hour working on banks' legacy COBOL systems are probably safe from the AI revolution. The Java programmers earning a lot less are possibly not.

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Photo by Fausto García-Menéndez on Unsplash

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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