The Rise and Risks of AI in Financial Services

The Rise and Risks of AI in Financial Services

Shao-Yi Wong Anagha Gupta
by Shao-Yi Wong & Anagha Gupta

The financial services sector is undergoing a tech-driven makeover that is hard to ignore. We’re witnessing a wave of change where AI, once a futuristic concept, is now a driving force behind how businesses function and serve their clients. The insights shared by Goldman Sachs Research in April this year add a fascinating layer to this narrative, projecting a potential 7% boost in global GDP over the next decade thanks to AI’s influence. This shift isn’t just about big numbers – it’s about how AI is making customer interactions better, improving financial risk assessment, and offering tailor-made financial experiences that are reshaping the world of finance as we speak. But there are also ethical and security concerns that come with implementing AI solutions, whether in-house or off-the-shelf.

Benefits of AI in Financial Services:

  1. Enhanced Efficiency and Optimised Processes: AI has proven to be a game changer, streamlining and automating various financial processes. From data analysis to fraud detection, AI’s speed and accuracy are unmatched, enabling financial institutions to make faster, data-driven decisions.
  2. Cost Reduction: Adopting AI solutions has translated into significant cost savings for financial organisations. With AI automating repetitive tasks, financial institutions can allocate resources more efficiently, freeing up human capital for more strategic roles.
  3. Enriched Customer Experience: AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants have revolutionised customer interactions. Swift responses and personalised solutions have become the norm, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Challenges of AI in Financial Services:

Unpacking AI Bias:

Stripping bias entirely from AI seems like an impossible task, as unbiased data is scarce. AI models are shaped by the developers’ biases and the inherent biases present in the data they use to train the models. However, some argue that using open data from the internet merely perpetuates society’s bias rather than developer bias. While developers’ influences on AI can be compared to how our upbringing shapes us, the question remains: should we hold AI and humans to the same standard when it comes to bias? Perhaps it’s time to accept that, like humans, AI will inevitably have biases, and instead, we need to be mindful of the information it provides without completely censoring its outputs. Finding the right balance may be the key to leveraging the full potential of AI while being aware of its limitations and biases.

Navigating Informed Consent:

During the session, participants recognised the indispensable role of data sharing in financial services but also raised concerns about potential data misuse by companies. The complex and lengthy Terms & Conditions were seen as obstacles to informed consent. To address these challenges, participants discussed the possibility of using AI-generated summaries to simplify and clarify the consent process for consumers. By empowering individuals to make well-informed decisions, such measures could foster greater trust and transparency in the financial services industry. It was evident that striking a balance between leveraging data for insights and safeguarding individual privacy would be crucial for responsible AI integration in the sector.

The Struggle for Ethical AI:

Mitigating ethical concerns surrounding AI requires a multi-faceted approach. Establishing a higher governing body for AI regulation was proposed as one solution to ensure compliance with ethical standards. Additionally, the concept of Explainable AI garnered attention – providing insights into how AI algorithms arrive at their conclusions. Currently, the black box paradigm makes it challenging for developers and companies to identify and address biased or incorrect data, leading to ethical dilemmas. One such dilemma is the famous trolley problem, which has sparked debates about the ethics of self-driving cars. Crowdsourcing ethics for such purposes can be problematic for companies since they lack certainty about the decisions AI will make and could be held accountable for AI’s actions. Distinguishing between human ethical concerns and AI ethical concerns is not straightforward, as their decision-making processes are intertwined. Interestingly, while we hold AI to higher accuracy standards, we often place humans under greater moral scrutiny. Achieving a balance between the two realms may be the key to navigating the ethical challenges of AI development successfully.

AI in Finance – A Delicate Balance:

As AI’s presence grows in the financial services sector, it brings both opportunities and responsibilities. Striking a balance between technological advancement and ethical considerations is critical. While embracing AI’s potential to improve efficiency and customer experience, financial institutions must address issues surrounding bias, privacy, and consent.

Regulations play a crucial role in guiding the responsible use of AI, ensuring transparency and accountability. The session participants acknowledged that achieving ethical AI requires sustained collaboration between industry stakeholders, policymakers, and AI developers.


In the dynamic landscape of AI’s expansion in financial services, one thing is evident: its impact is both transformative and multifaceted. In light of all its benefits, it is all the more important that we take steps to mitigate bias, ensure informed consent, and establish ethical boundaries. Explainable AI, with its promise of unveiling the decision-making process, could be one solution for addressing ethical dilemmas and fostering greater accountability. Here, there is the potential for more effective AI-human collaboration — combining human oversight with existing AI tools to develop a more holistic framework for wielding AI in the industry. As we navigate the future of AI in financial services, these questions concerning security, privacy, and ethics are ones we should return to along the way.

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