By: 8 April 2024

Unleash the power of AI

An interview with Adam Famularo, CEO of WorkFusion

WorkFusion, an AI digital workforce solutions company, automates complex and time-consuming tasks for more than 60 financial institutions, including three of the top U.S. banks.  

In this interview with Adam Famularo, chief executive officer of WorkFusion, we look at the company’s success, where AI can improve efficiency, save money and enhance risk management.  

What does WorkFusion do?  

WorkFusion is an AI digital workforce solutions company. We automate document-heavy and time-consuming work for financial services companies with our AI Digital Workers.  

They are AI copilots that align with actual job roles on the open requisition rosters of financial services firms, particularly in anti-money laundering (AML) such as adverse media monitoring and sanctions screening alert review, transaction monitoring, and Know Your Customer (KYC). We have more than 60 financial services customers, including three of the five top U.S. banks and customers like Deutsche Bank and BMO.  

What problems do WorkFusion’s AI Digital Workers solve?  

WorkFusion’s AI Digital Workers are focused on improving an organisation’s risk posture, particularly around AML compliance. Many of our financial services customers have struggled to find employees and keep employees, particularly at the L1 level.  

With AI Digital Workers, attrition and volume spikes have essentially zero impact on operations and analysts can spend 90% more time on more challenging (and more rewarding) work.  

For example, a top community bank in the U.S. recently performed a look back at its entire customer base for adverse media monitoring. They deployed one of our AI Digital Workers, Evelyn, plus 25 contractors, and saved roughly $1.2m in labour costs. 

How is the AI revolution shaping banking and financial services?  

AI adoption in banking and financial services is just getting started. Even regulators want financial institutions to innovate and look for new ways to perform old processes.  

A few months ago, we conducted a survey and found that 86% of organisations said they would increase their spending on AI and machine learning over the next two years. A staggering 93% of respondents said that instead of using automation to reduce staff, they would focus that extra capacity on strategies to manage risk and grow the business.  

Financial criminals are constantly innovating. The same can’t be said of financial institutions.

How can banks and financial institutions use AI to fight financial crime?  

Financial criminals are constantly innovating. The same can’t be said of financial institutions. There has been a status quo within AML and sanctions compliance and the same financial crime problems that they have today existed 15-20 years ago. Even with regulators getting on board, some organisations have been slow to modernise.  

Regulators want technology to liberate and improve human intervention and judgment. And they want to know that not only are the financial institutions doing the same with less, but they are doing more with less, all while effectively managing and mitigating their risks.  

Innovating to improve financial crime compliance operations is a big step for most financial institutions, but they don’t have to start big—with big price tags or heavy implementations. Turning to AI can help automate much of the work for Level 1 analysts in sanctions and AML compliance and cut down on the noise of false positives and identify true material AML risk.  

What inspired you to join WorkFusion, and what vision do you have for the company’s future?  

I was inspired and attracted to WorkFusion because it has brilliant AI software that was born out of MIT Labs.  

When I joined the company, I spent a lot of time talking to all our customers. We identified that we had a strong focus on financial crimes, which is a heavily regulated area needing a lot of real automation to stop bad actors—and it’s hard to find talent.  

My vision is that WorkFusion becomes a must-have technology for organisations to fight financial crime. We plan to play an active role in providing AI digital workforce solutions to banks and financial institutions to help reduce risk, improve compliance, overcome staffing challenges, and enhance the customer and employee experience. 

What emerging trends in technology and automation do you believe will have the most significant impact on WorkFusion’s direction and product development?  

The simple answer is GenAI. We’re very actively working GenAI into our products.  

One example is with our AI Digital Worker Evelyn that analyses news articles for adverse media. When we’ve added Large Language Models (LLMs) to the approach the automation rate can often eclipse 90%.  

We of course have controls in place to reduce the risk of hallucinations, including a human-in-the-loop capability and narrative audit reports. Some of our customers want more control than that, so the more classic machine learning version—still impressive technically as an ensemble of models—reduces manual effort by 60-80%. 

We are a customer-first-driven organisation. Most of our product direction is based on direct customer needs and feedback. We are actively working with customers right now on perpetual KYC AI, to monitor and react to events whenever they occur. Important changes are investigated promptly rather than waiting for a fixed refresh date. 

I have found the most successful companies have a clear vision for the problem they are trying to solve and have a genuine purpose behind their company.  

What emerging trends in technology and automation do you believe will have the most significant impact on the banking and financial services industry? 

The simple answer is GenAI and LLMs. The integration of advanced AI, including the application of sophisticated AI models, such as LLMs, will revolutionise information processing and speed up accurate decision-making.  

Is there any advice you would give to a new startup or a new CEO?  

On the side, I do a lot of angel investing in technology companies so I spend a lot of time with new entrepreneurs. I have found the most successful companies have a clear vision for the problem they are trying to solve and have a genuine purpose behind their company.  

The growth of GenAI is opening up many new opportunities for companies to think about how to apply this technology to vertical areas. This will create a lot of disruption in the market.  

I always appreciate a good leadership team that has both technical and business acumen to go along with a clear purpose in leveraging AI to disrupt the market. For these leaders, make sure you align yourself with the right investors that not only bring funding but also the experience gaps that you are missing to round out your team. It is a very exciting time to be in technology. 

Image: WorkFusion 

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Josh Poyser
Josh Poyser is an editor at FinTech Intel. He has written about fintech for several years and appeared at FinTech Connect 2023 on the 'Unlocking Success: The Art of Fintech PR' panel.