Tech pro turned author: Prabash Galagedara’s path to AI enlightenment

By Indira Laisram
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Prabash Galagedara with his new book "AI for Finance Professionals" // Pic supplied

Prabash Galagedara‘s journey into the realms of finance and technology was no accident. Growing up in Sri Lanka, he completed his studies in chartered accountancy and worked there. Concurrently, he pursued IT qualifications, leading him to explore both finance and IT during the transformative Y2K era. This navigation through the intersection of these fields allowed him to delve into the intricacies of data and AI.

Galagedara ventured into the Middle East before eventually settling in Australia in 2007. Along the way, he seamlessly merged his passion for writing with his expertise in data and AI. The result of this fusion is two books to his credit: Embrace—The Pursuit of Happiness through AI (2022) and his forthcoming second book, AI for Finance Professionals.

However, the genesis of his writing journey traces back to a conversation with a former boss during the Y2K era, he says. “She would often encourage me to write a book, citing it as a pathway to financial success—the elusive “first million dollars.” While he lacked the passion for such an endeavour at the time, it was after her tragic passing in 2013 that her words remained with him. “It was her encouragement that planted the seed of writing within me.”

Writing also seems to run in his family, with his father having authored books and even his daughter venturing into publishing. With a laugh, Galagedara says he hasn’t achieved the promised million dollars, but finds deeper satisfaction in utilising whatever proceeds from his books to support charitable causes.

Interestingly, his first book also inspired a television adaptation by a local Australian/Sri Lankan TV station called Aus Lanka.

With his latest book, Galagedara aims to democratise AI knowledge. He believes that AI should not solely be in the hands of technologists but accessible to all professionals, including those in finance. So, he wants to educate finance professionals and students globally, empowering them to leverage AI effectively in their respective domains.

In conversation with Prabash Galagedara, an IT professional based in Melbourne, on his second book AI for Finance Professionals.

“AI for Finance Professionals” book cover // Pic supplied

Ethical considerations are crucial when implementing AI in finance. How does your book address these concerns, and what advice do you offer to finance professionals navigating these ethical challenges?

In my book, AI for Finance Professionals, ethical considerations form a central pillar of the discourse on integrating artificial intelligence into finance systems. Recognising the transformative power of AI, the book meticulously outlines the dual-edged nature of this technology—its potential to drive efficiency and innovation versus the risks it poses to privacy, equity, and accountability. Here’s how the book addresses these concerns and the advice it offers to finance professionals:

The book introduces comprehensive frameworks specifically tailored for the finance industry, including ethical considerations. These frameworks are grounded in core principles such as transparency, fairness, non-discrimination, and accountability. By adopting them, finance professionals can navigate the complexities of AI implementation while upholding high ethical standards.

To bridge theory with practice, the book presents an array of real-world scenarios and case studies illustrating ethical and practical dilemmas in AI deployment. These examples range from algorithmic trading systems to privacy concerns in personalised financial advice. Each case study is accompanied by a detailed analysis, offering readers insights into identifying and addressing ethical issues.

Drawing on industry standards and the experience of the author, the book outlines best practices for ethical AI use in finance. These include conducting bias audits, implementing privacy-enhancing technologies, and establishing clear guidelines for AI decision-making processes. The book emphasises the importance of continuous monitoring and revision of AI systems to ensure they remain aligned with ethical standards over time.

Finance professionals are trusted advisors to businesses and communities. They have played a key role in driving ethical practices in many areas. There is a HUGE opportunity to take up the role of AI Ethicist in the workplace and community. They must act now and embrace the role.

Could you highlight some emerging AI trends in finance that readers can expect to learn about in your book?

Readers are introduced to a variety of emerging AI trends reshaping the industry. These trends highlight the innovative applications of AI technologies that are set to revolutionise financial services, offering insights into how finance professionals can leverage these advancements. Here are some key trends discussed in the book:

The rise of robo-advisors exemplifies how AI is making financial advisory services more accessible and affordable. These automated platforms use algorithms to provide personalised investment advice, portfolio management, and even tax optimisation strategies with minimal human intervention.

AI-driven models are transforming risk management by enabling more accurate and real-time assessments. Leveraging vast datasets, AI can identify patterns and predict potential risks, from credit risk to operational risks, with a precision that traditional models cannot match.

Advanced machine learning algorithms are at the forefront of detecting and preventing fraudulent activities in real time. By analysing transaction data, customer behaviour, and external risk factors, AI systems can identify anomalies that indicate fraudulent actions, significantly reducing financial losses.

AI is enabling highly personalised banking experiences through chatbots, virtual assistants, and personalised financial products, including staff-less bank branches. These AI-driven tools offer tailored advice, anticipate customer needs, and provide seamless customer service, enhancing client satisfaction and loyalty.

Prabash Galagedara with his new book “AI for Finance Professionals” // Pic supplied

RegTech solutions powered by AI are revolutionising compliance management by automating regulatory reporting, monitoring transactions for suspicious activities, and ensuring compliance with ever-changing financial regulations. This not only reduces compliance costs but also minimises operational risks.

AI is making significant inroads into the auditing industry, particularly in auditing processes. By analysing vast amounts of data, including non-traditional data sources, AI can assess risks more accurately and plan and execute audits much more seamlessly in large audit practices globally.

Each of these trends are a few examples explored in detail in AI for Finance Professionals, providing readers with a comprehensive understanding of how AI is transforming finance today and offering a glimpse into the future of the industry.

Who would benefit most from reading AI for Finance Professionals, and what specific knowledge or skills can they expect to gain from it?

The book is meticulously crafted for a diverse audience within the finance sector, aiming to bridge the gap between cutting-edge AI technologies and practical finance applications. The book serves as an invaluable resource for a variety of readers, from those at the onset of their careers to seasoned professionals seeking to navigate the AI revolution in finance.

Who Would Benefit Most:
  • Business Leaders: CEOs, Operation Managers, Marketing Managers, and Sales Managers who work closely with Finance Professionals to gain in-depth knowledge of the future of finance.
  • Finance Professionals: Accountants, financial analysts, investment bankers, and others in the finance industry who wish to understand how AI can be leveraged to enhance efficiency, accuracy, and innovation in their work.
  • Financial Technology (FinTech) Entrepreneurs: Individuals looking to disrupt the finance industry with AI-driven solutions, seeking insights into emerging trends, opportunities, and the competitive landscape.
  • Regulatory and Compliance Officers: Professionals tasked with ensuring that financial operations adhere to legal and ethical standards, who need to understand AI’s implications for compliance and risk management.
  • Finance Educators and Students: Academics and learners who aim to stay at the forefront of finance education, incorporating the latest AI advancements into their curriculum and research.
  • Technology Developers and Data Scientists: Specialists in AI, machine learning, and data science who focus on financial applications, looking to deepen their understanding of finance-specific challenges and opportunities.

As AI continues to evolve, how do you see its role in finance changing in the future, and how can professionals stay ahead of these developments?

The role of artificial intelligence (AI) in finance is poised for profound expansion and transformation in the coming years. As AI technologies become more sophisticated, their applications in the finance sector will likely deepen, leading to more efficient operations, innovative financial products, and new ways of interacting with customers. Here’s a glimpse into how AI’s role in finance might evolve and strategies for professionals to stay ahead:

Future Evolution of AI in Finance
  • Autonomous Finance: We may see the rise of fully autonomous finance systems, where AI manages end-to-end financial tasks for individuals and businesses, from budgeting and investing to financing and insurance, with minimal human intervention.
  • Personalised Financial Services: As AI technologies advance, the personalisation of financial services will reach new heights. AI will enable hyper-personalized banking experiences, investment strategies, and insurance policies by leveraging data on individual preferences, habits, and financial histories.
  • Ethical AI and Regulation Compliance: With the growing reliance on AI, there will be an increased focus on developing ethical AI frameworks and ensuring compliance with evolving financial regulations globally. AI systems will need to be transparent, fair, and auditable.
Strategies for Professionals to Stay Ahead
  • Continuous Learning and Adaptation: Finance professionals should commit to lifelong learning to stay abreast of AI advancements and their implications for the finance sector. This includes formal education, online courses, webinars, and staying updated with industry research.
  • Hands-on Experience with AI Tools: Gaining practical experience with AI tools and platforms used in finance will be invaluable. Professionals should seek opportunities to work on AI projects, whether through their organisations, collaborations, or personal initiatives.
  • Cross-disciplinary Skills: The future of finance will require professionals to possess a mix of skills, including data analysis, programming, ethics, and domain-specific knowledge. Developing these cross-disciplinary skills will enable professionals to design, implement, and manage AI solutions more effectively.
  • Ethical Considerations and Responsibility: Understanding the ethical implications of AI and advocating for responsible AI use will be crucial. Professionals should familiarise themselves with ethical guidelines and contribute to discussions on AI governance and policy-making.
  • Networking and Collaboration: Engaging with a community of AI and finance professionals can provide insights into emerging trends, best practices, and innovative solutions. Networking can also open up collaborative and learning opportunities.

As AI continues to redefine the finance landscape, professionals who are proactive in adapting to change, eager to learn, and committed to ethical principles will be best positioned to thrive. The future of finance with AI is not just about technological proficiency but also about leveraging AI to create more value, foster inclusivity, and drive sustainable growth.

Prabash Galagedara // Pic supplied

Can you provide some practical tips or strategies for executives and decision-makers looking to successfully implement AI technologies in their financial operations?

Implementing AI technologies in financial operations presents a significant opportunity for executives and decision-makers to enhance efficiency, innovation, and customer satisfaction. However, successful implementation requires careful planning, strategic insight, and a proactive approach to managing change. Here are some practical tips and strategies to guide executives in this endeavour:

Define Clear Objectives and Expectations

Begin by assessing your organisation’s specific needs and areas where AI can add the most value, such as customer service, fraud detection, or operational efficiency.

Establish clear, measurable objectives for what you aim to achieve with AI, aligning these goals with your overall business strategy.

Foster an AI-ready Culture

Encourage a culture of continuous learning and curiosity about AI among your team. Provide training and resources to help staff understand AI technologies and their potential impact.

Create an environment where experimentation is encouraged, and failure is seen as a learning opportunity. This can help foster innovative ideas and approaches to using AI.

Start with Pilot Projects

Before a full rollout, start with pilot projects to test AI solutions in controlled environments. This allows you to gauge effectiveness, identify potential issues, and make necessary adjustments.

Analyse the outcomes of pilot projects against your objectives. Use these insights to refine your approach before scaling AI technologies across your operations.

Collaborate with AI Experts

Partner with AI experts or vendors who have a proven track record in the finance industry. Their experience can guide the selection, implementation, and optimisation of AI solutions.

Measure Performance and Impact

Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to measure the impact of AI on your operations, financial performance, and customer satisfaction.

Use performance data to continuously improve AI applications, adjusting strategies as needed to maximise benefits and minimise risks.

By following these strategies, executives and decision-makers can navigate the complexities of implementing AI in financial operations, leveraging the technology to drive innovation, improve efficiency, and maintain a competitive edge in the rapidly evolving financial landscape.

What unique perspective or expertise do you bring to the intersection of AI and finance, and how does it shape the content and approach of your book?

As the author of AI for Finance Professionals, my unique perspective is shaped by a blend of hands-on experience in the finance industry, practical use of artificial intelligence, and a commitment to ethical technology implementation. I have both formal qualifications and practical experience in both disciplines over many years to share my thoughts on a subject that impacts everyone. This multidisciplinary background informs the book’s comprehensive approach, focusing not only on how AI can be used to solve financial problems but also on the broader implications of these technologies for society and the economy.

My career has spanned roles from financial manager to Data & AI General Manager, giving me a deep understanding of both the practical needs of finance professionals and the technical capabilities of AI technologies. This experience allows me to bridge the gap between complex AI concepts and their real-world applications in finance, making the book accessible to professionals without a technical background while still offering valuable insights to those with AI expertise.

In summary, my unique blend of financial expertise, use of AI in the workplace, ethical focus, forward-looking insights, and practical implementation experience shapes the content and approach of AI for Finance Professionals. The book is designed to equip finance professionals with the knowledge, tools, and frameworks needed to navigate the rapidly evolving landscape of AI in finance, driving innovation while ensuring responsible technology use.


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