Wednesday, July 6, 2022
BusinessOptima recruit AI pioneer to boost customer service in banking sector

Optima recruit AI pioneer to boost customer service in banking sector

OPTIMA Partners have recruited an expert in applying artificial intelligence to customer service.

Dr Danilo Blagojevic, a pioneer in the use of AI in banking and finance, will work at the consulting group’s Edinburgh HQ.

Blagojevic has spent the past eight years at Tesco Bank, working on machine learning (ML) in credit assessment.

He said: “While many banks are researching ML as proof of concepts, few are using them in practice as yet.

“I see huge potential for these techniques to make financial institutions more agile and responsive to their customers’ needs.”

He added: “I am excited to work with financial institutions who want to use cutting-edge machine learning (ML) and AI operationally to deliver better customer and business outcomes.”

ML allows the marrying up of data from a fast-moving macroeconomic picture with a more accurate understanding of the effect on customers in real time.

“That can help to plan more effectively, make fairer decisions and produce better outcomes,” said Blagojevic.

Optima’s new recruit, who has a PhD in Maths from Edinburgh University and a First from Cambridge,  understands there are concerns about AI producing unfair outcomes for customers.

But he contends that they can offer a more individualised approach which can make financial products available to people who are currently excluded.

He recently presented a paper at the prestigious international Credit Scoring and Credit Control Conference on the subject of using ML to improve credit risk assessment.

He said: “If interest rates or inflation rise, AI can help make more accurate and faster estimates of which customers would be likely to struggle with increased debt repayments when combined for instance with increased energy payments.

“That gives us more time to put plans in place to support them appropriately. The lender will be better able to make provision for those who may be at risk of default, perhaps offering them tailored products that can reduce the risk.”

As Head of Customer Analytics and Decisioning Sciences, Blagojevic will be based in Edinburgh, where he will work with Optima Partners’ Chief Data Scientist Dr Chris Foley.

CEO and founder of Optima Partners, Alan Crawley, said of their latest signing: “He is an authority on how to use innovative machine learning operationally in the finance sector in a way that is compatible with high standards of corporate and social responsibility.

“Our customers will be able to draw on that expertise to drive more agile practice, which is a key strategy for success in unpredictable times.”

Optima Partners is a management consultancy which helps businesses to drive data-led customer-centric transformation.

Founded in Edinburgh in 2013, with office hubs in London and Bristol, it works with many of the UK’s best-known businesses.

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