SFI Master Class «Data and Technology in Finance»

The Master Class on Data and Technology in Finance provides an in-depth but intuitive discussion of current trends. The discussion will be conducted by Prof. Dr. Laurent Frésard, SFI Senior Chair, Università della Svizzera...

Hôtel Beau-Rivage, Geneva

Thursday 12 September 2019
13:00 - 17:30

The combination of new data and technology is an increasingly important source of value in the financial sector, raising key questions about the future of finance in a digital world. The Master Class on Data and Technology in Finance provides an in-depth but intuitive discussion of current trends. The class illustrates key concepts by focusing on the use of text as data in various financial applications to help participants think critically about the opportunities and challenges new data and tools bring in their organization.

The discussion will be conducted by Prof. Dr. Laurent Frésard, SFI Senior Chair, Università della Svizzera italiana.

Following the Master Class, participants are invited to a networking aperitif.


In the last decade, the availability and variety of data has exploded. This explosion, which results from fast improvements in digital technologies and computing power, is shaking and reshaping industries, strategies, and business models all over world. Many observers claim that data is currently the most valuable economic resource (“the new oil”). The increased focus of the business community on data has fostered the development of new tools to generate, analyse, and extract value from large amount of data. Companies worldwide (large and small) are currently spending billions of dollars to understand how to harness the power of data and rethink their strategies and operations accordingly. The financial sector is no exception, and plethora of analysts, pundits, and commentators predict sizeable disruption is imminent in financial activities.
At the same time, a recent study by the Swiss Finance Institute (SFI) and Zeb (“Digital Pulse Check 3.0”) surveying 46 banking institutions (large and small) indicates that 50% of Swiss banks have not launched any initiative towards the use of data analytics, and 26% do not consider their (internally generated) data as a valuable asset. Across the board, the systematic use of data continues to be rare.  As one of the interview puts it: “Swiss banks have not realized the treasure trove of data they are sitting on”.
Mirroring previous eras characterized by rapid technological advances (e.g. the adoption of internet or the personal computer), current developments around data and analytics (i.e., the associated tools) can appear nebulous, daunting, and complex at first. Media outlets are flooded with buzzwords, ranging from “big data”, “digital transformation”, “artificial intelligence”, “algorithms”, “machine learning”, “data science”, “FinTech”, or the “zettabyte” economy. We count now dozen of recent reports that speculate (and widely disagree) on the future of work and business transitions in the financial sector.  
The Master Class on “Data and Technology in Finance” proposes to pause, step back, and decrypt these concepts and trends through an intuitive and non-technical approach that follow the (simple) laws of economics. The class provides an in-depth understanding of the current applications and development based on the combination of new data and tools in the financial sector, through various examples and use cases. The class also focuses on a particular application (unstructured textual data) to better illustrate how existing and (largely) unused sources of data are being exploited profitably in various corners of the financial sector (e.g., fraud detection, chatbots, or credit screening). The goal of the master class is to provide participants with an intuitive and sharp understanding of the new trends in financial technology (data+tools), and to help them think critically about the associated opportunities and challenges for their job, team, and organization.

Content of the Master Class

  • The various types of new data (structured and unstructured) relevant for the financial sector
  • The new tools based on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)
  • The rising importance of “prediction”: combining new (big) data and (fast) tools
  • Fintech as a by-product of combining data and tools
  • Current and potential applications in finance
  • Use case and detailed illustration: the power of text as data
  • Text-based applications: investing, chatbots, RegTech, robo-analysts, clients’ profiling, fraud and money-laundering detection, credit screening, uncertainty and sentiment measurement, and credit screening  
  • Challenges: data protection, privacy, ethics, regulatory changes


Organized by:

Swiss Finance Institute

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Hôtel Beau-Rivage, Geneva