JP Morgan's latest hire shows what the hottest field at investment banks is right now

Manuela Veloso, head of the Machine Learning department at Carnegie Mellon University.
Photo: David Monniaux | Wikipedia
Manuela Veloso, head of the Machine Learning department at Carnegie Mellon University.

J.P. Morgan Chase hired a veteran professor as head of artificial intelligence research as the investment bank prepares for wider adoption of automation.

The bank said that Manuela Veloso, head of the machine learning department at Carnegie Mellon University, will join the New York-based bank to help identify opportunities to create programs that "could potentially transform financial services," according to a memo sent to employees Thursday.

Firms are increasingly looking outside finance for experts to compete as fintech companies and established tech giants threaten to encroach on traditional banking businesses. About a third of J.P. Morgan's recent senior hires are from outside the industry, according to the lender.

In a shareholder letter published last month, Co-president Daniel Pinto emphasized the push the company is making in technology, where the budget has increased to $10.8 billion for this year compared with $9.5 billion in 2017. He said the pace of change will hasten in the next few years as artificial intelligence and other technologies are implemented across financial services.

"We are always exploring ways to offer our clients faster, better and simpler ways to do business with us,'' Pinto said in the letter. "The banks that don't invest will lose ground.''