UK Fintech Week 2021 included a whole series of talks and presentations, hosted by Innovate Finance, to explore the irreversible march of technological innovation which everyone agrees has accelerated since the pandemic hit us all.

A significant part of that digital revolution is the contribution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) including machine learning. Commentators are quick to point out that we can no longer view AI as a niche exercise, it is set to change the shape of finance and will both improve efficiencies and drive advances in customer service.

It is evident that AI provides an abundance of opportunities for the financial services sector. In fact, in the first of a series of seminars we hosted on the subject this year, keynote speaker, Sulabh Soral, who leads Deloitte Consulting UK’s AI engineering team, confirmed from surveys of financial executives globally that they consider AI ‘a strategic imperative’ for the next two years and one that will change their businesses.

In Jersey we have the building blocks in place to play an influential role in the wider transition to digital, not least through Jersey’s investment in a 100% full fibre network on Island and a growing community of digital specialists, 3,000 at the last count employed in the digital-tech economy.

There are other examples of our commitment to the digital future, for instance, the Jersey Financial Services Commission has this year launched ‘My Registry’, a modern, accessible digital registry that employs procedures that stand up to international scrutiny while providing simplified processes to its registered customers.

Our close partner, Digital Jersey, has established its Academy to encourage skills training and has on its Board, Dame Wendy Hall, a highly respected figure in the field who is the UK Government’s first skills champion for AI.

Our seminar series – and there have been two so far this year – explores the application of AI and the opportunities that lie ahead and I encourage you to register for future events. There is also our comprehensive report series on AI in financial series looking at both the global picture and its local application, with papers being launched throughout 2021.

One of the themes will be to dispel the myth that in a future scenario, robots will take over from us. Technology should be seen as a jobs enabler and a jobs enhancer, with routine work assigned to automation or machine learning applications, people become freed up to undertake the value added work.

That was one of the prominent messages to emerge at a recent Digital Jersey seminar that featured keynote speaker, Ron Kalifa, OBE, chairman of the Independent Review of UK Fintech, a recently released 108-page report. He was hugely supportive of the model Jersey has put in place.

Another key take away from the report was the importance of promoting the UK as a fintech growth opportunity and a country of choice for fintech, one Jersey is keen to mirror. Ultimately though and this point was also highlighted throughout, alongside the infrastructure, it will be the people that matter which is why skills training will be so crucial going forward.

UK Fintech Week was an opportunity to discuss investment in skills training and it also focused on fintech’s role in support of the economic recovery, another priority within Jersey. At the launch of Jersey Finance’s sustainability strategy and vision for the future last month, we were mindful of how connectivity and innovation will be linked to sustainability and positive outcomes for global economies. It is at the core of our activity going forward.

If we want to meet our objective and be the easiest IFC in the world in which to do business digitally and to support sustainability objectives, it is our intention to embrace both the rapid technological breakthroughs such as AI, alongside the required skills investment.