Prompt Engineering: The Ultimate AI Skill for Investment Operations

The AI revolution in investment management is fullyunderway.

9 out of 10 investment managers are currently using AI or plan to use AI in their investment processes.

With all these new innovations coming into the fold, new skills are needed to stay on top one of the most disruptive technological developments of our lifetime.

Enter prompt engineering.

What is Prompt Engineering in AI?

Prompt engineering is the art and science of crafting the text inputs (prompts) that guide the behavior and output of large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT.

Here's how to think of it:

LLMs Are Like Powerful Engines

They have immense potential, but they need specific instructions to produce the desired result

Prompts Are the Fuel

The quality of your prompts determines how well the LLM will perform the task you want.

Prompt Engineers Are Liked Skilled Drivers

They understand how to word prompts to steer the LLM in the right direction, get the best performance, and avoid potential pitfalls.

Why Prompt Engineering Matters in Investment Operations Management

1. It Allows You to Unlock AI's Full Potential

Well-crafted prompts allow you to tap into the full range of an LLM's capabilities, going far beyond basic question-answering.

2. Get Customized Results

Prompts guide the output, enabling you to generate text formats, writing styles, or responses tailored to your needs

3. Overcome Limitations

Clever prompts can help mitigate biases or tendencies towards incorrect responses that some LLMs exhibit.

What Makes a Good Prompt Engineer

1. Having a Deep Understanding of LLMs

Being familiar with how LLMs work, their strengths, weaknesses, and different model architectures (e.g., GPT-3).

2. Developing a Creative but Structured Approach

Learning to balance open-ended prompts for exploratory work with highly specific prompts for precision tasks.

3. Demonstrating the Art of Examples

Mastering the use of a few well-chosen examples within your prompts to guide the LLM towards the style or format you desire.

4. Knowing That Context is King

Learning how to provide the LLM with the appropriate background information it needs to generate relevant and accurate outputs.

5. Constantly Iterating and Refining

Being prepared to fine-tune your prompts based on the results. Prompt engineering is often an experimental process.

Prompt Engineering Examples in Investment Operations

Data Cleaning & Transformation

LLMs, guided by expert prompts, can parse complex data feeds, identify anomalies, reformat data to match specific systems, and handle complex calculations – drastically reducing manual intervention.

Automated Reconciliation

Prompt engineers can design prompts that instruct LLMs to reconcile trades, positions, and cash flows across disparate systems, flag discrepancies, and even suggest potential resolutions, significantly accelerating the process.

Report Generation & Analysis

Using prompts, LLMs can be instructed to generate tailored investor reports, extract key insights from performance data, and even write initial drafts of commentary – saving time and enhancing the quality of reporting.

6 Future Scenarios: Prompt Engineers in the MBO Spotlight

Scenario 1: Proactive Issue Resolution

The Challenge: MBO teams lose time manually monitoring for exceptions and often react to problems after they've caused delays or errors.

Prompt Engineering Solution: Prompt engineers design prompts that enable an LLM to:

  • Continuously monitor data flows for anomalies.
  • Predict potential issues based on historical patterns.
  • Alert the relevant team members proactively, providing context and suggested actions.

Outcome: MBO operations become predictive, preventing problems rather than firefighting them.

Scenario 2: Agile Onboarding of New Clients or Funds

The Challenge: Onboarding new clients/funds is labor-intensive, with manual setup across systems and prone to data entry errors.

Prompt Engineering Solution: Prompt engineers craft prompts that allow an LLM to:

  • Integrate with a CRM system to extract client/fund data.
  • Auto-create accounts and configurations in portfolio management, accounting, and reporting systems.
  • Generate tailored onboarding checklists for the remaining manual steps.

Outcome: Onboarding becomes faster, more accurate, and less resource-intensive, allowing firms to scale faster.

Scenario 3: Customized Knowledge Base

The Challenge: Each MBO team has operational knowledge scattered in documents, emails, and people's heads, making it time-consuming to find answers to complex questions.

Prompt Engineering Solution: Prompt engineers work with MBO teams to:

  • Structure and tag operational knowledge into a format an LLM can ingest.
  • Develop prompts that enable the LLM to act as a sophisticated Q&A interface for this knowledge base.

Outcome: MBO teams gain an accessible knowledge source for troubleshooting, training new hires, or exploring process improvement ideas.

Scenario 4: Enhanced Portfolio Attribution Analysis

The Challenge: Portfolio managers often spend significant time manually dissecting performance, trying to identify the specific drivers behind positive or negative returns.

Prompt Engineering Solution: Prompt engineers develop prompts that instruct the LLM to:

  • Ingest complex portfolio data (holdings, transactions, benchmarks)
  • Break down attribution across various factors (sector, style, individual security selection) on command.
  • Visualize the results in an intuitive format, highlighting key insights.

Outcome: Portfolio managers gain a powerful decision-support tool, empowering them to rapidly identify the root causes of performance and make better-informed adjustments.

Scenario 5: Streamlining ESG Reporting

The Challenge: Generating comprehensive ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) reports is a data-heavy task, with information often scattered across providers and lacking standardization.

Prompt Engineering Solution: Prompt engineers craft prompts enabling LLMs to:

  • Extract relevant ESG metrics from various data sources.
  • Normalize data to ensure comparability.
  • Generate a well-formatted report aligned with industry frameworks, even drafting initial narrative sections describing a portfolio's ESG profile.

Outcome: Asset managers save time, produce more consistent ESG reports, and can better respond to growing investor demands for transparency.

Scenario 6: Smart Trade Order Generation

Today's Challenge: Generating complex trade orders, especially in less liquid markets or when executing specific strategies, can be tedious and error-prone.

Prompt Engineering Solution: Prompt engineers collaborate with traders to design prompts that allow the LLM to:

  • Understand the desired trade parameters (security, quantity, timing, price limits, etc.).
  • Incorporate real-time market data and transaction cost estimates.
  • Generate trade instructions in the appropriate format for the specific order management system (OMS).
  • Outcome: Traders gain efficiency, minimize errors, and can focus on complex strategic decisions rather than manual order entry.

Important Note: In heavily regulated areas like trade generation, the role of the prompt engineer would likely focus on efficiency and error reduction, with careful human oversight and compliance checks remaining critical.

Attain The AI Skills That Take Your Operation to New Heights

The rapid advances in technology are truly mind-blowing, and investment management firms must stay ahead of the trends if they want to remain relevant.

And when investment operations teams make use of prompt engineering, they will be leaders in their space.

By carefully crafting the instructions that guide AI models, these firms can streamline processes, uncover insights, and ultimately gain a competitive edge.

AI will continue to revolutionize the industry at warp speed, and prompt engineering will become an essential tool for firms seeking to maximize their return on AI investments.

Ready to Start the AI and Digital Transformation Journey for Your Operation? Contact Empaxis.

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