Fund managers 'will be replaced by computers'

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Standard Life Investments, the global investment manager, has proposed that there will soon be no need for fund managers.

In a report published this month by the investment firm, they argue that long-term strategy fund managers could soon be replaced by machines.

“Using artificial intelligence applications have enhanced our understanding and analysis of financial market behaviour, adding to the range of predictive tools,” the investment firm says.

While the firm is aware that, traditionally, “investment approaches generally contain both qualitative and quantitative elements”, which means that “in broad terms human thinking may be better suited to the qualitative side while computers are used to varying extents to add value to quantitative inputs”. This looks like it could change.

The flaws in human financial decision making are clear and the ability of a computer to “improve the quality of trading decisions…or to speed up the execution of trades” is too great to ignore.

Standard Life (LSE: SL.L - news) presents a simple argument: "Man" has to deal with “fear and greed, intellectual constraint and fatigue”, whereas a machine is “agnostic, tireless” and has “no bias” in decision making.

Frances Hudson, Standard Life’s global thematic strategist, said that “artificial intelligence applications have enhanced our understanding and analysis of financial market behaviour”, and “artificial intelligence, which is commonly used in short-term market analysis... may also be applied here [to longer-term investments]”.

While computer algorithms are not a new thing in themselves dating back to the 1950s and 1960s and used today for high frequency trades the view that “long-term investors can benefit from a computer’s consistent application of collective intelligence to financial markets” is increasingly strong.