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Top 3 reasons FinServ marketing & compliance leaders are bullish on AI

Discover why leaders are optimistic about AI: It can help enhance operations, save time and money, and improve efficiency in the financial industry.

Artificial intelligence (AI)—it seems like every industry CEO is talking about it. But what do financial services marketing and compliance leaders think about AI, and how are they actually using itor planning on using it?

We recently surveyed 107 marketing and compliance leaders from U.S. financial institutions to find out. The majority (66%) said they are already using AI in some of their processes. Additionally, 93% of all respondents said they believe AI can save them time, and 85% said it would save them money. This data tracks with a 2023 McKinsey & Company survey on the state of AI that reports “40 percent of respondents say their organizations will increase their investment in AI overall because of advances in gen AI.”

Industry leaders are looking for ways to use AI to help improve their day-to-day operations and their bottom line. Diving deeper into our own survey data, marketing and compliance leaders at all levels let us know how they are using and prioritizing AI. We’ve bucketed their uses into three main categories, described below.

Advanced analytics and insights

Marketing and compliance leaders are using AI as a tool to expedite the once tedious task of analyzing and extracting important patterns from their data, then using the knowledge gained from these analyses for a variety of purposes.

Fourteen percent of all leaders we surveyed said they are already using AI to process and analyze data, including for predictive analyses. Junior managers are the largest group using AI in this way (20%), compared with 17% of senior and mid-level managers and 0% of top executive managementa significant difference by role.

Leaders said they are also using AI to help identify trends and insights and provide content, with twice as many leaders in marketing departments using AI for this purpose, compared to leaders in risk and compliance (10% and 5%, respectively). Though our survey didn’t drill down into the specifics of each use case, this might include identifying trends in individual customer behavior or behaviors as a group, as well as asking AI to provide further insights into those trends and behaviors or any data anomalies.

A small percentage of leaders are using AI-based analytics capabilities for other reasons as well. Three percent of respondents said they are currently using AI to help with decision making, especially at the senior and mid-management levels. Again, we don’t know the specifics of how each surveyed firm is using AI for decision making, but common applications could include using AI’s powerful analytics to suggest the next or best action for a customer or identify work for straight-through processing.

Another 3% of respondents said they are taking advantage of AI-generated analytics to create a culture of continuous learning and improvement, presumptively to help their teams streamline workflows and deliver better customer experiences.

Get the full research → AI insights survey: Adopters, skeptics, and why it matters.

Surprisingly, only 1% of respondents said the main reason they are currently using AI is for compliance. In another section of the survey, however, we asked risk and compliance leaders what capabilities they would prioritize for risk or compliance software. Twelve percent said they would value software that suggests compliant content for anything flagged as a possible risk. Based on this data, compliance leaders may increasingly look to take advantage of AI tools that can scan and analyze text, review content, and assess compliance more quickly and accurately.

Efficiency and automation

Ten percent of marketing and compliance leaders say the main reason they are using AI is to help improve the accuracy and efficiency of their operations. Use cases in this bucket include applying AI-based capabilities in a variety of ways to automate tasks and reduce workloads.

Marketing leaders, for example, told us in answer to another survey question that they have positive views of how AI-based tools could help their teams in the development of marketing materials, with 90% of marketing leaders believing AI can help enhance and support creativity. However, at the time of this survey, only 3% said they were currently using AI to assist in content generation. Similar to McKinsey & Company’s prediction, we anticipate more marketing teams will adopt AI tools to help them handle their design and content development workloads as AI tools and capabilities evolve.

Leaders also told us that they are using AI to generate human-like text responses (10%) and for customer support for tools like chatbots and virtual assistants (7%). These types of applications typically automate customer interactions for simple inquiries and allow firms to provide interactive information 24/7. Tools like chatbots take advantage of AI’s natural language processing (NLP) and large language model (LLM) capabilities. Currently, our data shows that more compliance departments than marketing departments are using AI for these applications.

Assistance with risk management and compliance

To help reduce risk and fraud, 8% of leaders surveyed have already incorporated AI into their processes. Again, when we look at the data on which capabilities risk and compliance managers prioritize for tools or software, 19% identify a centralized solution as a priority, followed by version control (12%), and assistance with inline filing with regulators (10%).

These priorities are understandable, as the regulatory landscape for investment communications is becoming increasingly complicated and the costs of non-compliance are significant. For instance, our independent analysis finds the average cost of a FINRA 2210 fine over the past five years is $250,000. And that doesn’t even account for the cost of potential legal fees, restitution, business disruption, revenue loss, or a negative stock reaction due to the loss of goodwill. Tracking the content that is submitted to regulators, maintaining accurate records, and making sure everyone is working under the correct guidance is more important than ever.

Our takeaway: AI use will continue to increase, as will regulatory oversight

The leaders we surveyed were clearly bullish on AI technologyeven the leaders who admitted their teams were not yet using AI. They see potential in AI technology and are prioritizing AI capabilities that will help their teams speed content creation and review while keeping everyone on track and on the same page. They are also focused on AI’s ability to help automate and deliver personalized customer service.

Based on their responses, surveyed firms appear to be in the early stages of AI use. Regulatory agencies like FINRA recognize this trend and realize that AI has the potential to significantly affect the way marketing and compliance teams operate. FINRA recently addressed some of the perceived risks of AI in their proposed predictive data analytics rule, which we provided an overview of on our blog. FINRA also cautions in their Financial Crimes/Cybersecurity and Technology Management publication that “the use of AI tools could implicate virtually every aspect of a member firm’s regulatory obligations, and firms should consider these broad implications before deploying such technologies.”

Our data shows that marketing and compliance leaders recognize there will be risks involved with using AI-based tools, but they’re balancing those concerns with the risk of their firms being at a disadvantage from not using AI. Download the report to see more data and get additional insights: AI insights survey: Adopters, skeptics, and why it matters. 

 

The opinions provided are those of the author and not necessarily those of Fidelity Investments or its affiliates. Fidelity does not assume any duty to update any of the information.

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Allison Lagosh

Head of Compliance
Allison currently serves as the Compliance Advisor and Director for Saifr within Fidelity Labs. She previously was a management consultant focusing on data validation and conversions, disclosure design, and regulatory expertise for the Saifr team. Allison has extensive experience in the financial services industry with various legal, compliance, risk, and marketing compliance positions. Most recently, she was a Vice President for State Street Global Marketing, where she led the Risk Management and Controls Governance Program and advised on Marketing workflow tool management. Allison also worked at various senior compliance and marketing manager positions at Columbia Threadneedle, MFS, and Fidelity Investments.

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