Media release: Cutting-edge data specialist on machine-learning-in-finance joins Optima Partners

Danilo Blagojevich

ONE of the UK’s pioneers on the use of AI in the banking and finance sector has today joined Optima Partners.

Dr Danilo Blagojevic moves from a leading role in establishing data science at Tesco Bank, where, over the last eight years, he has been developing cutting-edge machine learning in credit assessment.

Dr Blagojevic is keen to work with leading financial institutions that are ready to pioneer the operational use of AI to offer better services for customers.

He said: “I see huge potential for Machine Learning techniques to make financial institutions more agile and responsive to their customers’ needs.

“I am excited to work with financial institutions who want to use cutting-edge machine learning (ML) and AI operationally to deliver better customer and business outcomes.

“ML enables us to marry up data from a fast-moving macroeconomic picture with a more accurate understanding of the effect on our customers in real time. That can help to plan more effectively, make fairer decisions and produce better outcomes.”

Dr Blagojevic, who secured a PhD in Maths at Edinburgh University after a First at Cambridge University, said he understood that there are concerns about AI producing ‘unfair outcomes’ for customers; but, in fact, they can be a way to offer a more individualised approach which can make financial products available to people who are currently excluded.

He recently presented a paper at the prestigious international Credit Scoring and Credit Control Conference, on the topic: ‘How application of Machine Learning leads to significant improvement in accurate credit risk assessment, delivering better business value and fairer customer outcomes.’

He continued: “For instance, if interest rates or inflation rise, AI can help make more accurate and faster estimates of which customers would be likely to struggle with increased debt repayments, when combined, for instance, with increased energy payments.

“That gives us more time to put plans in place to support them appropriately. The lender will be better able to make provision for those who may be at risk of default, perhaps offering them tailored products that can reduce the risk.”

As head of Customer Analytics and Decisioning Sciences, Dr Blagojevic will be based in Edinburgh, where he will work with Optima Partners’ chief data scientist, Dr Chris Foley.

CEO and founder of Optima Partners, Alan Crawley, said: “We are delighted to bring Dr Blagojevic into our team. He is an authority on how to use innovative machine learning operationally in the finance sector in a way that is compatible with high standards of corporate and social responsibility.

“Our customers will be able to draw on that expertise to drive more agile practice, which is a key strategy for success in unpredictable times.”

About Optima Partners

Optima Partners is a management consultancy which helps businesses to drive data-led customer-centric transformation. Founded in Edinburgh in 2013, with office hubs in London and Bristol, it works with many of the UK’s best-known businesses. For more information, 

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