“Depending on who you speak to, AI could either lead to the destruction of civilisation, or the cure for cancer or both. It could either displace today’s jobs or enable an explosion in future productivity. The truth probably embraces both scenarios.
At the FCA we are determined that, with the right guardrails in place, AI can offer opportunity.”
Source: Nikhil Rathi, FCA CEO, Speech to The Economist on 12 July 2023
In November 2023, the UK hosted the global Artificial Intelligence Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, following which we saw AI discussions feature heavily in the media. The Summit was attended by 28 countries from across the globe with participants including world leaders and leading AI companies and academics. With discussions taking place over a couple of days, the summit ended with the announcement of the Bletchley Declaration and a new UK-based AI Safety Institution. The Institution is being set up to test the emerging types of AI and has received the support of attendees the AI Safety Summit. This forms part of the UK’s National AI Strategy to ensure artificial intelligence is incorporated into the UK’s infrastructure to build for the future. It also supports the UK’s goal to play a leading role in AI safety regulation.
What does this mean for financial services?
Here in the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Bank of England (BOE) established the Artificial Intelligence Public-Private Forum (AIPPF) in October 2020. Not only is the UK striving to maintain its position as a leading global financial services hub, but it also now wishes to assert itself as the leader in artificial intelligence regulation.
More FS hubs are seeking to support and encourage innovation and competition which are key drivers for the financial services sector. In the UK, we see these messages echoed in the regulatory business plans and strategy. But what risks and challenges does AI pose to financial services? Should we be concerned and how can we leverage AI? These were some of topics explored by the AIPPF.
Key areas for action:
The AIPPF was a forum established by the FCA and BoE to encourage discussion and explore the use of artificial intelligence and also machine learning. It had the following objectives:
Share information about safely adopting AI, the possible challenges and the barriers to adopting AI
Gather views on the best way to manage AI, principles, guidance, regulation
Consider whether guidance and regulation is needed
The AIPFF last met in October 2022 and its final report was issued in February 2023, which highlighted three specific areas for action for financial services: Data, Model Risk and Governance.
AI brings the benefit of processing huge amounts of data and identifying patterns that are often hidden, which can be extremely useful to firms. Firms should consider how this information is used. The regulators have encouraged firms to identify behavioural bias in consumer activities and to strive towards encouraging consumers to make better informed decisions, rather than exploit weaknesses.
Firms should focus on attention on:
This means firms should have a clear explanation of AI application risks and controls which are maintained. This last point is important to ensure that as the AI systems change, the risks are managed appropriately, and on a continuing basis.
It’s crucial that firms identify and understand the governance of any AI systems. AI systems have the capacity to automate decision making, which brings its additional risk. Firms need to consider effective accountability for AI systems with responsibility clearly defined and agreed governance frameworks.
For some time now, we’ve heard UK regulators encouraging firms to embrace technology, for example, by using the regulatory sandboxes to test their new products. Something that has been adopted across the globe.
We also see the regulators highlighting that whilst we should embrace technology, we should be mindful of the risks.
The message is that AI systems should be reviewed as part of a firm’s risk management framework, and to mitigate those risks, you need to consider and identify the risks inherent in the AI systems.
The regulator wants to see firms monitoring the AI systems, not just from a performance aspect, but also in relation to change management. One of the challenges with AI is that their use develops a great speed, so if the AI system changes, firms need to track those changes and monitor what happens next.
What should firms consider when adopting AI?
Adopting AI systems offers huge opportunities for businesses so long as the risks are identified and managed appropriately. In brief, firms should treat AI applications like any other system. Firms need an appropriate method of:
appraising AI systems to document the rationale for choosing one system over another including benefits and complexity
identifying potential risk of consumer harm
measuring consumer harm
communicating clearly with customer about the use of AI
The above should link back to focusing on the three key areas: Data, Model Risk and Governance:
To manage AI systems effectively, firms need to ensure appropriate appraisal of the AI systems, risk assessment and ongoing monitoring. These activities need to be embedded with the AI governance infrastructure to enable firms to manage their risks and demonstrate robust oversight.
How Ruleguard can assist:
Ruleguard is an industry-leading software platform designed to help regulated firms manage the burden of evidencing and monitoring compliance. It has a range of tools to help firms fulfil their obligations across the UK, Europe and APAC regions.
With Ruleguard, firms can manage the following AI Risks:
Map AI risks and controls to applicable regulations, policies, and procedures to facilitate gap analysis and compliance monitoring
Assign responsibilities to senior managers
Document and report on control failures and deficiencies, identify issues and schedule remediation tasks
Provide auditors and regulatory authorities with selective, secure access to compliance and assurance documentation
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Head of Risk & Compliance| Ruleguard