Google, Symphony unveil AI JV to help banks manage voice calls compliance risk

LONDON (Reuters) – Symphony, the markets infrastructure and tech firm, is teaming up with Google to ramp up its voice analytics offering to banks and investment firms, executives told Reuters, as regulators get tough on communications compliance.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has imposed more than $2 billion in fines for missteps in this space, largely linked to the failure to track or record business-related text messages sent over unauthorised platforms during COVID-19 lockdowns.

As the sector-wide crackdown on messages and emails reaches a climax, financial firms are now bracing for possible probes into their usage of voice and video calls, of which only a fraction of communications are routinely recorded and retained, sources told Reuters last month.

Symphony, which counts banks like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan among its 1,000-strong client base, will use Google Cloud’s generative artificial intelligence platform, Vertex AI, to enhance its Cloud9 voice product with more sophisticated speech-to-text and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities.

Communications over the Cloud9 product, which helps trading teams collaborate across asset classes such as commodities, interest rate swaps and equity derivatives, can then be more accurately transcribed for retention purposes and flagged for review when suspicious discussions are detected.

“Generative AI has the potential to transform the trading landscape from automating routine tasks to identifying potential misconduct through anomalies in data,” said Zac Maufe, global head of Regulated Industries, at Google Cloud.

Beyond transcribing and summarising conversations for compliance, users will be able to mine the data to extract additional insights that could be used to influence sales or trading strategies, as well as monitor the overall experience for customers.

“…What we’re looking to do is create a platform you would use to put your stream of data in to get the insight out of your data,” Brad Levy, Symphony CEO, told Reuters, adding that he hoped to bring the enhanced product to market by Q2.

Phil Moyer, VP of Google Cloud’s Global AI Business, said the platform would make compliance more “ambient”.

“…Data is increasing by as much as 50% to 60% per year. So there’s 180 zettabytes of data on the planet Earth right now, 90% of which has been created in the last two years.”

“We’re starting to get beyond the level that humans can handle this. And so tools like these transformers and generative AI are really helping to manage that massive data that’s being created,” Moyer said.

(Reporting By Sinead Cruise; editing by David Evans)