AI-powered finance needs careful nurturing to fulfil its potential

Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers huge potential for the financial and related professional services industry by enabling fast decisions at scale [1], but its development requires regulators to tread a careful balance to allow businesses to innovate responsibly, while also retaining public trust.

The report, ‘Towards an AI-powered UK,’ by the International Regulatory Strategy Group (IRSG) in collaboration with Accenture, underlines the potential of AI to improve customer experience, develop new products, help detect and prevent illegal activity, better manage risk and help meet regulatory requirements.

The report also found that the development of AI technology is creating new jobs as firms race to implement and scale the technology, countering fears of automation-driven job losses.

Despite the opportunities AI can offer the industry, it faces a number of challenges which must be overcome if it is to fulfil its potential. These include:

  • The lack of a clear definition of what constitutes AI and therefore, how it should be regulated.
  • An expectation gap, both from customers and from industry practitioners, between what is expected of AI, and what AI can actually deliver in practice.
  • An understanding of how to scale AI systems across a business when they are often initially developed on limited closed platforms.
  • A shortage of tech talent needed to develop and implement AI technologies at scale across the industry.
  • A public perception challenge stemming from a public debate heavily influenced by discussions about the negative impact of AI on employment, and privacy.

Mark Hoban, Chair of the IRSG, and former Treasury Minister, said,

The UK has the potential to be a world leader in AI. We have a vibrant ecosystem of top talent, world-leading AI research centres, a strong technology industry and digital infrastructure and a growing number of AI start-ups.

“Despite fears of automation-driven unemployment, the rise of AI is creating new roles and opportunities across the industry as well as demonstrable consumer benefits. The real challenge is how we can stay at the forefront of this new technological wave while maintaining the highest standards of regulation and public trust. This is a technical revolution which is very much still in its infancy. While caution is justified, we must also  nurture AI so that  it has a chance to flourish.”

Fernando Lucini, Managing Director at Accenture Digital and Artificial Intelligence lead in the U.K. & Ireland, said,

Although the fundamentals of the UK’s regulatory architecture remain robust and fit for purpose for current applications of AI, further thinking on policy might be needed as the technology becomes more transformative and scaling it becomes a must. With the best response likely centring on a combination of sharing industry best practices and leveraging existing regulatory frameworks."