Wolf Vos is an IT trainee and has spent the past six months working in the Modelling & Data Lab at ING in Madrid. As of October 2018 he is joining the International Advanced Analytics team, which is where he also did his first rotation.
Wolf decided to do a degree in Artificial Intelligence “back when AI wasn’t such a hot topic”. He did the research for his thesis in ING’s Wholesale Banking Advanced Analytics team. That was an ideal opportunity for him to get to know the bank and to discover whether an ING traineeship would suit him. “I had my doubts beforehand. I thought I’d be much more at home within a ‘real’ tech company. But ING just happened to be right in the middle of a really interesting transformation from a bank to a tech company specialised in financial products and services. How cool would it be to be part of that? I started on the IT traineeship as soon as I’d finished my thesis.”
We let the most advanced data science techniques loose on traditional bank products
“I did my first rotation in the International Advanced Analytics team, which is part of the ING Group. It supports the various retail banks in all of ING’s countries with data science, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence. I heard there was a really good data science team in Madrid – and now here I am, just finishing my second rotation. We do really exciting things here; we let the most advanced data science techniques loose on traditional bank products. We’ve just completed a pre-approval model for loans, for example. The model enables us to approve (future) customers for a loan for the desired sum before they even apply for it, so when they subsequently submit their application the whole procedure is really quick. We can approach them proactively too, which is very interesting from a commercial perspective of course. This is the first team within the ING Group to use these kinds of innovative predictive modelling techniques for products like these. We’ve got a very pioneering role; we’re allowed to experiment, and we get lots of support from the management and from Advanced Analytics at group level. They want to learn from us.”
It all starts with the data
“As a data scientist I’m mainly focused on finding – and ultimately programming – relevant uses of artificial intelligence for the bank. It all starts with the data. Which data is suitable, which features can we create from it, and which data points do we want – and are we allowed – to use? The data then has to be prepared and cleaned so that it can be used to develop models that do what we want them to do. And after all that, we unleash the predictive modelling techniques. It’s my job to write algorithms that convert all the data into valuable predictions. I’ve mainly done this for products so far, but I was recently involved in a customer interaction project too, giving things more of a marketing angle – which was also really interesting! I conducted research and wrote an advisory report on how data science can help us to improve our customer interaction, such as by personalising special offers to customers.”
There is tremendous ambition
“Everything about ING underlines the company’s tremendous ambition to transform into a tech company. There is a lot of investment in the people and resources to facilitate the transformation. ING’s annual Hackathon is a great example. I took part with a team this year. There were eight of us, and we spent the 24 hours developing an app that makes it really easy to split a bill – a new and improved version of the payment request in the ING app. It lets you take a photo of a restaurant receipt using your smartphone and then your phone converts the receipt so that everyone can click on what they had and pay their own share of the bill. Our team won, and the prize is a trip to New York for us all at the end of this year. How great is that?!”
Wolf spent a year studying in the USA, where he also played American football. Upon his return to the Netherlands he swapped football for rugby. Unfortunately he had to give up playing after several operations on his ligaments, but he stayed involved with the student rugby club as a coach of the first-year team. When he moved to ING Madrid, he rode there on his motorbike so that he’d have his favourite mode of transport with him during his time in Spain. Another of his passions is travelling, with a trip to Indonesia and Australia rounding off his second rotation.