(Bloomberg) -- Daiwa Securities Group Inc. employees are widely using an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot in Japan, as the nation’s second-largest brokerage follows global banks in exploring the potential of rapidly evolving technologies.

Chief Executive Officer Seiji Nakata said the Tokyo-based firm started an experiment in April that gave around 9,000 workers in Japan the go-ahead to “freely use” ChatGPT. Daiwa has also been strengthening the recruitment of science graduates to develop high-tech experts in house, he said in an interview.

The move comes as an AI revolution unfolds on Wall Street in response to widening interest in the technology and its likely business impact. Deutsche Bank AG is using it to scan wealthy client portfolios, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. is advertising for more AI roles than any of its rivals.

“It will be able to do all kinds of things,” Nakata, 62, said about ChatGPT. “There are things that humans should handle, like negotiations in advising on mergers and acquisitions or for securities underwriting. But there are also routine tasks in the process that can be replaced.”

Daiwa is prioritizing training staff to become AI experts and data scientists partly because “the bar is high” for finding talented people elsewhere who are versed in those technologies as well as securities business, Nakata said. 

Science, technology, engineering and math degree holders accounted for around 21% of new college graduates hired by Daiwa this year, and the figure might reach 50% in the future, he said.

ChatGPT has the potential to streamline Daiwa’s retail business by helping salespeople identify financial products that will best fit their individual clients, Nakata said. It may also help traders execute orders for corporate customers more efficiently, he added.

Japanese interest in AI has been growing. SoftBank Group Corp.’s mobile unit has said it will build a version of ChatGPT, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. is preparing to enable employees to start using the chatbot this summer for daily work. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has instructed a new AI panel to examine its economic potential and risks. 

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts estimate that 300 million full-time jobs globally, including financial operations, could be exposed to automation by generative AI, according to a report in March. Still, Nakata said no Daiwa employees have conveyed concerns to the top management that ChatGPT may take away their jobs.

Should AI replace some work, “you can move people into other areas of business where they can flourish,” he said. “We humans are the ones using the chatbot, not the other way around.”

Nakata Also Said: 

  • Most of a planned increase in M&A banker headcount by 250 over eight years will come from external hiring
  • Daiwa may look to hire a team of bankers covering a specific sector; Nakata also reiterated the possibility of buying a boutique firm to achieve its target
  • He would like to deepen the firm’s presence in Australia, considering the nation’s growing population and rising pension assets

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