Financial Service Leaders Believe Sector is ‘Digitally Fit’ But Anxious About AI

The vast majority (94%) of financial service leaders are confident that their businesses are “digital fit for the future” but doubts remain with 26% saying they suffer from “tech anxiety” when it comes to AI and machine learning, according to new research.

The study, from global digital transformation consultancy Kin + Carta, defines “tech anxiety” as the feeling senior leaders have as a result of the rapid pace of advancements in technology that are causing concern when it comes to how their business operates.

Almost one in five senior finance leaders (18%) report concerns about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. When added to concerns over generative AI, developments in AI technology are creating almost as much unease for the sector as cyber security: the most common cause of anxiety overall (29%).

Thirty-four percent of the leaders who identify AI and ML as a source of anxiety attribute their concern to a lack of trusted data, while 41% attribute it to an internal skills gap — indicating a sense of there being no substantial data foundations in place within their organizations. The study suggests that finance leaders are looking to tackle these anxieties over AI and ML with 15% stating that they are investing more in the technologies — more than any other part of their digital estate.

The findings are collated in “2024 Leadership Priorities in Tech: Leading through tech anxiety in Financial Services” as part of Kin + Carta industry spanning “2024 Leadership Priorities in Tech” report, which showcases priorities and concerns from 800 senior business leaders in the U.S. and UK. The sample was made up of C-suite executives and senior decision makers in organization with more than £800 million turnover and more than $1billion in revenue.

The report demonstrates how the increasing digitalization of financial systems and services holds both threat and opportunity in the face of economic uncertainty. Seventy-two percent believe investment in digital transformation is either critical or necessary for business success, while a quarter (24%) of leaders report the need for optimizing processes and increasing efficiencies as a critical data requirement.

“Security has always been top of the tree when it comes to tech anxiety for financial services but the rise of disruptive technologies such as AI has caused a lot of apprehension in the sector,”

Richard Neish, global chief strategy officer at Kin + Carta, said. “So while the industry is digitally mature in many ways, it does not prevent leaders from being cautious when new tech enters the scene.

“Economic volatility is increasing pressure on budgets and demanding greater speed to value. But with great change comes great opportunity. Leaders must be flexible, leverage data, and build transformation around business needs in order to succeed.”

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