AI Transformation in Banking: Interview with Alexandra Mousavizadeh

In a rapidly evolving financial services industry, Alexandra Mousavizadeh, Co-Founder and CEO of Evident, is steering the company to the forefront of Artificial Intelligence (AI) transformation in banking. Evident, a benchmarking and intelligence firm, specialises in authoritative, data-driven insights on corporate AI adoption. It began its focus within the banking sector. The Evident AI Index assesses AI performance and maturity at major global banks. It provides business leaders, investors, and policymakers with a clear, detailed overview of AI capabilities. In this Fintech Review interview, we discuss Alexandra’s views on AI’s influence in banking and the challenges and opportunities it creates.

Tell us more about Evident. What is your elevator pitch?

We’re a benchmarking and intelligence company that aims to provide the most authoritative source of data-driven insights on how companies are adopting AI.

Beginning in the banking industry, our goal is to give business leaders, investors and policymakers a complete, unbiased, and transparent picture of corporate AI capability, through a combination of industry-leading research, data insights and events. The Evident AI Index offers an independent, outside-in assessment of AI performance. It focuses on maturity across the world’s 50 largest banks. This unique evaluation is widely recognised.

Our intelligence platform aims to help the world’s largest financial institutions. We focus on tackling the challenge of AI adoption. This includes identifying use cases and measuring outcomes, impact, and ROI.

What is your background and the story behind Evident?

I’m an economist with a specialism in using data to build benchmarks that rank nations, companies and other entities on key financial and technological issues.

My career eventually led me to Tortoise Media, where I built the Global AI Index, which we were able to establish as the go-to benchmark for governments including the US, UK, UAE, Israel, Finland, Greece and many more. This is where I first became fascinated by AI’s potential to transform our world. My colleague Annabel – the co-founder of Evident – was similarly interested in this field, and as we started to explore the state of AI adoption in the corporate domain, we began to see profound gaps in how companies assess and harness their AI capabilities.

This was the starting point for Evident. We aimed not only to identify gaps and assess AI maturity in corporations. Our goal was to promote a race to the top. This entails a more transparent and accountable AI landscape.

AI is very hot right now. Where do you think that it is the ‘hottest‘ in financial services?

AI is reshaping the very fabric of the financial services industry. Algorithmic trading and personalised financial advice highlight AI’s diverse applications. AI also enhances fraud detection and compliance. These uses can drive transformational benefits for institutions.

In risk management, AI algorithms can process vast amounts of data. They predict market trends and protect against potential threats. This makes them more efficient. In customer service, AI-powered chatbots are able to provide 24/7 personalised assistance to customers.

I believe AI will unlock new ways of measuring and understanding the world. This is vastly applicable to financial services. Through advanced pattern recognition and vast data aggregation, institutions can now gain insights about consumers and businesses. They will also understand the financial services ecosystem and the economy more broadly. Previously, this level of insight was unattainable.

How is Evident responding to these trends?

I have always believed that measurement drives good outcomes. Rankings promote better behaviour and increased transparency. Our role at Evident is to track these AI use cases as they move from discreet experimentation within individual banks to becoming industry-wide trends.

As well as to ensure that banking leaders fully understand how to roll AI out in a way that maximises the benefits – organisationally and to society at large – while minimising the risks.

What do you think of the doom & gloom view of AI: Will it destroy all the banking jobs?

The belief that AI will just eradicate jobs is mistaken. It overlooks the subtle effects on banking positions. This nuanced impact is crucial to understand.

The organisations that win the AI race will surge ahead of their rivals on growth, productivity, and financial performance. They will likely create millions of jobs. Whereas organisations that fail to meet the challenge of AI-driven digital transformation may cease to exist altogether.

Each bank must figure out how to introduce AI and successfully harness its benefits before they can even think about replacing human teams. This is not easy, and certainly will not happen overnight.

In fact, the biggest banks are massively stepping up their AI hiring efforts. In some institutions, this is the only area of the business in which headcount is increasing. What is happening here could be the start of a more fundamental shift, with traditional banking roles replaced by model risk managers, data engineers and responsible AI experts.

Other innovations in fintech or elsewhere that you are really excited about?

To be honest, it’s hard to look beyond AI when it comes to the most exciting innovations, and that’s because the technology offers the possibility of foundational change: What it means to be a bank, or a provider of financial services products. Tomorrow’s institutions will be AI-first and I expect to see wave upon wave of further fintech innovation as organisations successfully embed AI at the heart of their business models and throughout every facet of their operations.

Agentic AI is particularly exciting; the ability for AI systems to act as autonomous agents on behalf of their users represents the next phase of the AI race. And of course, advances in quantum technology also hold the potential to deliver a further step-change in the power and potential of AI systems, offering capabilities that it’s hard for us to even conceive of today.