HSBC joins AI race with new trading tool

IFR 2485 - 27 May 2023 - 02 Jun 2023
3 min read
EMEA, Asia
Natasha Rega-Jones

HSBC has rolled out its own version of ChatGPT for institutional investor clients in the latest sign of an intensifying race between major investment banks to develop artificial intelligence tools.

The bank's AI Markets platform uses natural language processing, the same AI behind ChatGPT, to provide clients with access to proprietary data from HSBC's global markets division that can be used to price and execute transactions or produce real-time market commentary.

HSBC said more than 4,000 users were already live on the tool, which taps into the bank's centralised in-house database to draw information from sources including internal emails and chats between salespeople, traders, and clients.

Allen Li, head of foreign exchange options automated trading and electronic risk, acknowledged that clients hadn't typically associated this kind of innovation with HSBC.

"This tool is really changing people's perception of HSBC and proves that we're succeeding in our renewed focus on digitisation: reacting quickly to the needs of clients with the right technology," said Li, who was heavily involved in the tool's development.

IFR has not been able to talk to any users of the platform to verify how well it works, but it is certainly true that banks have been ramping up their investment in AI over the past few years, a trend that has accelerated since the launch of ChatGPT last year that opened the world's eyes to the power of AI. Many finance executives believe well-designed AI tools will revolutionise the way their firms do business by allowing them to deploy the vast reams of data in their systems more efficiently, whether that's in pricing securities or interacting with clients.

Some are still proceeding with caution. Concerns over security have prompted many banks to ban staff from using external AI programmes like ChatGPT, while data accuracy concerns have proved a stumbling block when building in-house platforms.

But those forging ahead, including the likes of BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank, are convinced that NLP and other forms of AI will give them an advantage over rivals.

Li said the quality of the information HSBC was putting in clients' hands through AI Markets should give the bank a competitive edge. "We're providing actual, tradable data to clients – all of which is proprietary to HSBC," he said.

In a similar concept to ChatGPT, AI Markets provides HSBC's institutional clients with a digital assistant that can perform tasks across different asset classes. Clients can plug into the tool via the bank's single dealer platform, through external platforms like Symphony, or directly through an API connection.

Users can type a request into the tool's chat-box, which is fed through HSBC's central database to produce a near instantaneous response. The bank also plans to offer the service to large corporate clients in due course.

"AI Markets is essentially a gateway into our global markets capabilities and services where all of our information, analytics, pricing, execution, and workflow are available," said Li. "It really is designed as a one-stop shop."