How do banking and financial markets leaders see AI evolving?

New IBM research shows potential risks outweighed by productivity gains

How do banking and financial markets leaders see AI evolving?
Steve Randall

None of us are quite sure what the impact of AI will be, given its potential mix of positives and negatives, opportunities and risks. But what do banking and financial markets CEOs think?

A new global study from IBM, published today (June 5), covering around 300 industry leaders in 30 countries reveals cultural and workforce challenges as financial institutions expedite the implementation and scaling of generative AI with 72% planning to maintain or accelerate their organization's pace of transformational change in 2024.

Another recent poll shows that asset manager’s adoption of GenAI in their sales and marketing to advisors is ‘years away’.

Most respondents to the IBM poll (57%) believe that the firms that have the most advanced GenAI will gain a competitive advantage, but it is not the technology that presents the largest challenge to implementation according to 59% of the poll’s participants.

Two thirds of CEOs believe that the significant risks of implementing GenAI in their businesses is worth it for the potential productivity gains. However, maintaining trust and transparency among clients and employees remains paramount.

"CEOs in the banking and financial markets sector are keenly aware of the competitive benefits that generative AI will bring and are eager to move quickly," said John Duigenan, Distinguished Engineer & General Manager, Global Financial Services Industry at IBM. "In their enthusiasm to embrace the benefits of this potent new technology, it's critical that financial services leaders ensure their institutions are taking steps to engineer trustworthy AI designed to reduce risk and win the confidence of their customers, employees and regulators."

Culture change

While overcoming technical challenges remains important, 65% of respondents said that cultural change and people’s adoption of the tech is the big challenge to becoming a data-driven business. Six in ten CEOs admit to pushing for adoption of AI faster than their employees may feel comfortable with and four in ten said their teams do not fully understand how strategic decisions impact them.

Workforces also often lack all the skills required for GenAI implementation and although 60% of respondents said their team do have the skills and knowledge, 53% are already struggling to fill key technology roles and 50% of these are hiring for roles that did not even exist this time last year due to generative AI, showing the rapid shift occurring in the workforce.

A recent CFA Institute poll revealed that two thirds of respondents overall believe AI and automation are important to their career success and 92% believe knowing how to use emerging tech will help their prospects.

“Our research reflects the tremendous pressure CEOs are under to keep their competitive edge. Alongside profitability and productivity, getting the right skills remains a persistent challenge, with CEOs now hiring for roles that did not exist until recently," said Shanker Ramamurthy, Global Managing Partner Banking & Financial Markets, IBM Consulting. "Workforce needs are shifting rapidly in the financial services sector and CEOs must ensure that upskilling programs are prioritized as an important element of any financial institution's enterprise strategy for scaling generative AI."