Who’s Who of Analytics: insights from Dr. Richard Davis, Group Head of Analytics at Lloyds Banking Group.

Abeed Rhemtulla Managing Director at Enigma Consulting Group caught up with Richard Davis in London to find out more about the largely untapped potential of analytics in financial services – now and in the future.

‘The huge data real estate in banking is growing every day. To stay ahead of the game we need to be totally on top of this data and use it to provide the best experience and service for our customers.’

 Dr Richard DavisGroup Head of Analytics at Lloyds Banking Group.

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Richard leads a team of world-class researchers and data mining experts for Lloyds Bank who employ innovative analytics solutions and”Big Data” technologies from data acquisition and cleansing, and visualisation through to predictive analytics and data mining using artificial intelligence. The insights gained from his team help the 250-year-old bank to understand consumer requirements and leverage customer behaviour for business success.

Abeed Rhemtulla:  How did you start your career within analytics? Was it something you were always focused on, or was it something you happened to stumble into?

Richard Davis : I started in analytics during my Masters degree where I was applying novel analytical and statistical methods to ecological data. For my final project I built a neural network predicting the time of year aphids would migrate to attack crops based on interpolated weather data so it varied from farm to farm. From here I went on to do a PhD using Genetic Programming and Wavelets to classify metabolomic data sets, this was used in a number of case studies, the main focus of the methodology though was to develop a mechanism for diagnosing BSE (mad cow disease) based on blood samples. Following my PhD I went into finance and have since been applying the same statistical and analytical methods to financial data sets.

What traits would you say make a great analyst?

An inquisitive mind and the desire to always learn. If you ever sit back to rest on your laurels or believe you know it all, or how to do analyse any problem you’ve lost the game?

Any advice to graduates who are analytics focused?

Keep practicing the skills for real life examples, get on Kaggle and give it a go. Keep learning new methodologies and keep up to date with latest technologies and algorithms. Open up a cloud account and run some algorithms on there, make sure you understand Hadoop, Hive, Pig etc and how to use them on real data sets.

Why do you use analytics within your organisation?

There is a huge data real estate in banking and it is growing every day with new data sources and new types of data. For us to stay ahead of the game we need to be totally on top of this data and how it can be used to provide the best experience and service for our customers.

What skills do you look for when you hire?

Traditionally in my area we would look for statisticians and applied mathematicians. This hasn’t changed, but the focus is definitely moving more towards the “Data Scientist” role of a statistician who knows how to program and has a good domain expertise. I’d recommend people look at Python, R as statistical and programming languages, for data they need SQL, but more and more we are looking for people who have experience with Hadoop, Hive, Pig, Spark etc. and how to use these techniques in the cloud.

What are some of your significant challenges at work?

Data. It is always messy. It is always incomplete. Work needs to be done to reconcile, find golden sources, merge to other sets. It is improving but in any large organisation the data architecture is always one of the biggest headaches.

Do you think the analytics bubble will burst anytime soon?

I don’t believe there is a bubble. There is an ever-increasing amount of data and there is a need to analyse it. There is a general move towards data led decision-making, once people start to move down that path, I can’t see them turning around.

 

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Dr Richard Davis will speak at the Analytics Leaders Summit Mandarin Oriental Singapore May 11th to 13th 2016. An event organised by Enigma Consulting Group 

Find out more about the Analytics Leaders Summit Singapore here

 

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