Investing in machine learning research 

Machine learning is a rapidly growing field that offers many potential applications in investment management and related fields, writes Eugene Botha, Deputy Chief Investment Officer at Momentum Investments.

Eugene Botha, Deputy Chief Investment Officer and Head of the Research Hive at Momentum Investments

Machine learning is a rapidly growing field that offers many potential applications in the investment management and related financial services fields.  

At Momentum Investments, we place a significant emphasis on the value research insights bring and pride ourselves on our heritage founded on the principles of innovation, interrogation and constant improvement.  

That is why we have created the Momentum Investments Research Chair (Professorship) for research into machine learning in finance in conjunction with Stellenbosch University. 

Prof. Evan Gilbert, Research Strategist in the Research Hive at Momentum Investments, will be seconded to Stellenbosch University’s School for Data Science and Computational Thinking under the direction of Professor Kanshukan Rajaratnam. 

Gilbert will supervise research projects at the Masters and PhD level on machine-learning based research topics applied to the financial services context. These projects will provide the basis for academic research papers in local and international research journals and the insights to drive the impactful application of machine learning techniques in financial services. 

Momentum Investments has always had a strong research culture, which is entrenched in the business. The Research Chair will generate useful research insights for the broader Momentum Investments business, while helping the university deepen their research capabilities and produce new researchers and papers in this area. 

Machine learning offers the potential to significantly improve our ability to navigate the continually challenging world of investment management successfully. It can help with many significant decisions, such as asset allocation and asset selection. It can provide a solid, data-driven basis for improving our abilities to segment, understand, and guide our clients’ investment behaviour. It can thus also really enhance our ability to successfully implement our ‘investing is personal’ strategy. 

The Research Hive was set up within Momentum Investments to provide subject-matter expertise on technology trends, knowledge and strategic innovation management, and industry-specific insights and to facilitate active knowledge transfer between researchers, business experts and other areas of the investments business for the benefit of our clients. A key focus of The Research Hive is on collaborating on innovation and thought leadership principles across the business. In this way, we ensure that our clients benefit most from the knowledge, expertise and skills within Momentum Investments. 

To enhance our research proposition, we have collaborated extensively in the industry to ensure that we remain relevant in the market. We have partnerships with industry bodies like the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa, The Financial Planning Institute of South Africa, and The South African Finance Association. Our close connection with research brokers and academia (through our university relationships and sponsored research projects), as well as global research providers and asset managers, ensure that we are at the forefront of research and trends in the industry from a technical, academic and practical perspective. 

Research collaboration across the investment management business and also within client facing segments in the Momentum Metropolitan Group ensures that the focus of research and innovation remains client driven and focused. 

Research is important for innovation, which is essential to growth, generating ideas for new products and solutions, and advancing existing solutions in the investments business. Ultimately, the aim of our research is to help people achieve their personal financial goals effectively. Because with us, investing is personal. 

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