The equipment and asset finance industries are evolving. New technologies are being incorporated to automate and simplify each step of a lease or loan process. This includes automated credit checks against a pre-determined risk profile to quickly assess the viability of a new applicant to automating the tax tables that need to be adjusted per asset throughout the life of the contract, to valuation of the asset as it come to end of term. Everywhere we look, there are new levels of integration into the equipment leasing and loan process.

 

As we look deeper into automation, there is a growing push for advanced technologies to be embraced as part of this evolution. Artificial Intelligence, or AI as it is abbreviated, is one of these technologies. If we look back to one of the first moments when the world took notice of AI, the 1997 chess between Garry Kasparov and IBM Deep Blue super computer, we discovered that the computer could recognize patterns and outmaneuver the world’s best human in the complex strategy of chess. This fueled both scientific and science fiction to predict the eventual takeover of AI through robots which would radically change the way humans approached work.

 

Now in 2019, the topic of the future of work and the importance of AI is still an active discussion, but this has been tempered as we have also discovered that our fears of a robot takeover were a little pre-mature. The Brookings Institute has done some deep thinking about this in their January 2019 paper on Automation and Artificial Intelligence where they comment the discourse on automation has settled into a more mixed understanding that AI and automation will bring neither apocalypse or utopia, but instead benefits and stresses alike. So how does this impact the equipment and asset finance world?

 

Apply automation where it has clear parameters – As in the case with Deep Blue, AI beat out a human when it has a set of fixed variables and parameters to apply to a specific task. In our industry, there are a variety of functions where AI can be applied to the life of a lease or loan contract. AI can evaluate the potential risk of an applicant based upon broad set of data and measure this against a predetermined risk profile. If the applicant passed the risk threshold, the contract can move to funding.

 

Start small – Before you quickly rush to turn over your whole operation to a computing platform which will provide decisioning and complete portfolio management, start small. There are a variety of tools in the market to help automate some of our most painful business tasks. Meeting scheduling for your team or with clients can be automated through AI digital assistants like x.ai or skedool.it.

 

Build capability and expand – In addition to starting small, one of the best ways to harness the power of AI is identify one step of the asset and equipment finance process to apply blended AI with human review to ensure accuracy in the AI decisioning. One of the foundational principles of our IDScloud was building out an ecosystem of web services based integrations to enable current efficiencies and in anticipation of increasing levels of automation.

 

To answer the question posed at the beginning of the post, I do not believe AI will replacing leasing finance professionals, but it could greatly enhance the industry when used in areas where the AI can accelerate processes, introduce greater efficiency, and improve the experience for the end customer. When used in this context, both the leasing organization and their customers experience the benefits associated with this more streamlined process.

Ray Wizbowski, Vice President of Marketing