• AI discussion panel from left to right: Sara Rolando (Octopus Electric Vehicles); Julian Evans (Arval UK); Patrick Fagan (AFL); and Anthony Flack (Motorcomplete).
Toby Poston BVRLA
Toby Poston from the BVRLA chaired the AI discussion

THERE’S plenty in the media at the moment  about artificial intelligence (AI), whether it’s having fun with chat GPT or how AI has assisted medical breakthroughs. Plus, of course, how AI is going to take over the human race and the threat it represents.

But what’s the role of AI for brokers?

In a session chaired by the BVRLA’s Toby Poston, a panel made up of Anthony Flack (Motorcomplete), Patrick Fagan (AFL), Sara Rolando (Octopus Electric Vehicles) and Julian Evans (Arval UK) considered various use cases.

Patrick Fagan said the company had built a rate platform that uses AI to help the business run the enormous number of rates and funders it has to run. “We’ve built it to solve problems,” Patrick explained. “But that doesn’t remove the human element. We run the rates overnight but they are checked in the morning by staff – so its a hybrid at the moment.”

Julian Evans from Arval said the funder ran models – such as predictive maintenance – across the group in 29 countries and his team was constantly working with scientists at the company’s Paris HQ.

There is a great opportunity to use AI both externally and internally within the business. But I think staff see it as a real threat to jobs. So the more we can show how AI can help them in their jobs, what their role is, the better. It's important to wrap people in.

Sara Rolando, senior data scientist with Octopus, warned about the dangers of a tech arms race, but added that AI can help the customer journey, especially around EV drivers.

And Motorcomplete’s MD, Anthony Flack, suggested that whether you were in the first wave of AI usage depended on the size of the broker. “Nationwide has some success in using it,” Anthony added, who were winners of the Best Innovation of the Year Award at the recent Broker News Awards .

Other uses of AI for brokers included sentiment analysis for Consumer Duty freeing up staff that would be otherwise involved and leveraging it to do quality assurance.

Finally Toby asked for thoughts on how mistakes might be avoided in the use of AI.

Julian Evans was keen to emphasise that it needed constant checking: “train a model and keep checking it,” he said, which was echoed by Patrick Fagan who called for constant human monitoring to spot errors and to sense check.

Sara Rolando added that brokers should be mindful of customer data being harvested by AI and the risks that might present. “Get someone in who understands GDPR,” she advised.

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