Interview

[AWC] Using Data to Generate SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Scores of Companies: An Interview with SESAMm's Sylvain Forté
  • 유시형 기자
    유시형 기자
  • 기사입력 2021.08.31
    • AI, technology and alternative data are revolutionizing the entire investment and financial industry [with ESG at the core].

      Fintech is a hot sector, especially in the last few years, due to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Fintech is technology-enabled financial solutions and while it seems new, it has been around at least a few decades. With the explosion of the Internet, major banks have started to switch to digital banking in the late 1990s like PayPal, which launched in 1998. Fast forward to 2021 and it is common to see people’s banking done over a mobile app. It is rare for people to carry cash as most people pay with cards or digital cards stored in their smartphones. On the other side of the finance spectrum, investing and stocks have boomed as people have look to supplement their primary income while trying to secure their future. However, such financial decisions are difficult to make, especially with a plethora of data that is impossible to go through. SESAMm, a French Fintech company, helps their clients make that process simpler using artificial intelligence, natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) technologies. Behind SESAMm’s amazing technologies in data is CEO and Co-Founder Sylvain Forté, who will be presenting SESAMm’s award-winning NLP towards SDGs (Sustainability Development Goals) in the upcoming AWC (AI World Congress) 2021 in Busan conference.

      AWC is a two-day conference focusing on technologies like AI towards sustainability (SDG’s) and smart cities and will be held virtually on September 1-2, 2021. More information can be found here.

    • SESAMm logo/Image Credit: SESAMm, all rights reserved
      ▲ SESAMm logo/Image Credit: SESAMm, all rights reserved

      Introduction and Background
      My name is Sylvain Forté and I am the CEO and Co-founder of SESAMm. I founded SESAMm in 2014 while I was working on my engineering degree alongside my colleagues Pierre Rinaldi (COO) and Florian Aubry (CTO). My role is to help understand our clients’ technical needs and translate them into action plans.

      I have been passionate about artificial intelligence (AI) for many years now, particularly Natural Language Processing (NLP) and its related technologies. So, a few years ago, my co-founders and I started reproducing academic research results with the aim of predicting price movements using Twitter data. Using our initial results, our first client in London, a prop trading firm, successfully leveraged the signals to generate significant alpha. The allocated capital exponentially grew from 50,000 USD to millions. From there, SESAMm continued to grow.

      Background and Vision of SESAMm
      SESAMm is a leading provider of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for investments professionals. We specialise in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) in finance and use cutting-edge algorithms transforming data from billions of documents into insights (usable data). Documents include, but not limited to, articles, news, blogs, forums, comments, and messages from the Internet or social media. Specifically, we detect ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and SDG risks and opportunities to help asset managers, insurers and private equity firms make smarter investment decisions.


      Currently, SESAMm has over 70 employees across six offices around the world such as New York, London, Tokyo and Paris. We work with global clients like Kyobo-Axa in Korea, Asset Management One and Tokio Marine in Japan, and many more in Asia, US and Europe.
      SESAMm has been rapidly growing the past five years, raising 15M USD from investors like NewAlpha or The Carlyle Group to develop its activities. Our objective is to make SESAMm the global leader in NLP-driven alternative data in finance and beyond. We plan on continuing to expand, especially in South Korea through partnerships and direct client relationships.

    • SESAMm ESG dashboard sample/Image Credit: SESAMm, all rights reserved
      ▲ SESAMm ESG dashboard sample/Image Credit: SESAMm, all rights reserved

      France’s Ecosystem for Fintech and AI
      France is a strong technology hub, especially in terms of startups and the Fintech sector. Lately, the world’s tech giants like Google and Facebook have been planting their research facilities in France as well. One of the biggest reasons why France has gotten to be so strong is the great talent pool in the tech sectors. French engineering schools and universities have a reputation for excellence in math and computer science, leading to a high number of qualified individuals. So, France is definitely a great country to start and build a tech company.

      What makes SESAMm so different from other Fintech companies?
      Fintech refers to many different financial technological applications. Historically, many French Fintech firms are related to payments while asset management is lagging, despite its incredibly rich banking environment. And SESAMm is a Fintech company that works with established financial institutions. We provide analytics and alternative data extracted from web contents using NLP. We then provide the data to clients for a number of applications from tracking Meme stocks on Reddit Wallstreetbets to generating thematic SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) scores on companies for impact funds. Our industry-leading data lake contains more than 15 billion documents, from more than 4 million sources, and almost 13 years of historical data. We simply just have more data, finer and more granular information in multiple languages than our competitors. Our clients can utilise our technologies and solutions in various ways such as credit forecasts, long-short and long-only equity strategies, asset allocation, ESG factors, and due diligence or sourcing in private equity. You can check our website here for more details on SESAMm’s productions, solutions and demos.

    • SESAMm Streams retail sentiment API/Image Credit: SESAMm, all rights reserved
      ▲ SESAMm Streams retail sentiment API/Image Credit: SESAMm, all rights reserved

      Future Expectations
      Within 10 years, I believe that AI and NLP will continue to grow, using larger language models with more generic capabilities (more and different applications). However, data is the primary fuel for these technological advancements and what SESAMm is passionate about. Regarding the future of Fintech, I can only speak in terms of investments, and it is likely that automation will continue to be a growing trend. This will lower costs while the fight to systematically generate interesting returns will become fiercer and more technology-driven.

      South Korea’s Fintech and AI Industry
      In a number of my business trips to South Korea, I have noticed a great dynamic in the Fintech and AI ecosystem, driven by large tech corporations and financial institutions. I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with South Korean partners like French Team Seoul.

      I am also excited to see such strong interests from asset managers, insurers and banks in South Korea to apply AI technologies and cutting-edge initiatives. South Korea’s fast-moving environment is ideal for SESAMm, which is why we are working on reinforcing our presence in the country. We are in the middle signing a partnership with a major consulting firm in Seoul to help clients with local project managements and co-branded initiatives. Building upon our successful developments in Japan the past few years, we plan on investing significantly in helping financial institutions and private equity firms in South Korea to fully utilise alternative data and machine learning in financial and investment efforts.

      Additional Comments
      AI, technology and alternative data are revolutionizing the entire investment and financial industry, public and private markets. ESG is also at the core of the revolutionary transformation, and it is coming fast. SESAMm can help clients leverage these technologies while keeping their wallets and the world happy and sustainable.

      It is an understatement to say that technology, especially artificial intelligence (AI) has changed people’s lives. Newer technologies like machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) have made waves to help automate processes, mine through the infinite amounts of data, and make better financial decisions. However, as the world aims to combat global warming, be more sustainable and responsible, people are considering the environmental and social aspects when looking at the data and making decisions. Companies like SESAMm are using their revolutionary technologies (NLP and ML) in alternative data to help clients make a sound financial decision. To learn more on how SESAMm does this, then check out Sylvain Forté’s presentation in the upcoming AWC 2021 in Busan conference on September 1-2, 2021. More information can be found here.

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