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Anchorage Investment Firm Turns to AI, Partners with University of Alaska

May 29, 2019 | Education, Finance, Monitor, Telecom & Tech

ANCHORAGE—Alaska investment firm McKinley Capital Management, LLC and the University of Alaska’s Lab for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have formed a new academic partnership focused on the use of data science and artificial intelligence in finance.

The partnership focuses on the study and use of AI and data science as applied to the finance industry. Traditionally, industry data comes in the form of financial statements, earnings announcements and regulatory filings. However, the future of investing (most notably growth investing) is increasingly based on new types of datasets – such as crowdsourced earnings forecasts, webscraping, social media, satellite imagery, GPS geolocation data and more – previously not analyzed from a financial perspective. The information gathered from these new avenues often provides clues to consumer behavior and patterns that can, when understood more thoroughly, be analyzed to predict earnings.

Harnessing this information and structuring it so it can be parsed into actionable data is the primary function of the McKinley Data Science Team at MCM. Its search algorithms can read, synthesize and analyze tens of thousands of documents, and then further analyze millions of data points pulled from the documents nearly instantly. What to scan for and how to interpret the results become the most critical skills and are a challenge that requires not only expertise but persistence and significant investment.

The partnership with the University of Alaska will include university students as interns and will focus on the application of AI and machine-learning skills and tools to solve real-world problems and circumstances that arise in global financial markets.

“Our goal with students is to help develop their skills, oversee their senior projects where appropriate, and collaborate with staff on research across the spectrum of AI-related projects,” said MCM CEO Rob Gillam. “We value the university and its dedication to student learning; as a company, we want to invest in our community’s most critical assets: the students and the youth of Alaska who are our future. This partnership allows us to provide UA students a place where they can apply their talent and create a future for themselves. It’s a really exciting partnership for us.”

MCM currently covers nearly 50,000 publicly traded stocks in 105 countries, more than 50 currencies, 13,000 sell-side analysts and hundreds of millions of data points. Bigger tools and more precise skills to maneuver these large datasets are priority. The company is providing space in its Anchorage office through a custom build-out where university students will study and work on projects of applying data science and machine learning.

“We strive to have great partnerships in every community, and to have a working relationship with a company that is a leader in the use of AI tools in the finance industry is an amazing opportunity,” said University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen. “The university is developing new relationships in a variety of industries under our ‘UA, Open for Business’ initiative. It’s really pretty simple. We listen to the needs of the private sector and match those needs with the talent and tools at the university. This agreement with McKinley Capital represents our commitment to solving the challenges of our private sector partners, and meeting the needs of our state.”

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