Majority of FSIs believe in GenAI productivity benefits but 'third' won't train workforce

New research from Ernst & Young has found that more than three quarters of European financial services executives expect generative AI (GenAI) to “significantly affect” productivity yet many lack plans for upskilling their workforce.

In a report by the big four accounting firm, which sought perspectives from executives at 60 European financial services institutions, 35 per cent said they currently have no plans in place to train their workforce in GenAI technologies, while 42 per cent described plans as being “in their infancy.”

Only 12 per cent of respondents said they had training in place for targeted groups and just 10 per cent reported having developed plans in use.

A further two per cent believed their workforce was fully equipped to contribute end-to-end to building AI capabilities across their organisation.

Despite many organisations having no plans to train staff, the report found that 77 per cent expect GenAI to deliver a “windfall to productivity” and have a significant impact on their workforces and operations, while 68 per cent predict up to a quarter of all roles would require upskilling over the next year.

Ayman Awada, EMEIA financial services technology consulting lead at EY noted the challenge of enabling the workforce to realise and capitalise on the potential benefits of GenAI required “in-depth, long-term planning” which is “not yet in full force.”

“Financial services leaders must ensure that they are adopting a strategic mindset as they manage their investment, both in new technologies and their people,” he said. “Bringing together the best of human-driven insight, with the breadth of GenAI capabilities, will be fundamental to successful GenAI integration.”

The report also found the top three concerns presented by GenAI integration were limited understanding and experience of GenAI applications and their impact across the workforce – highlighted by 36 per cent of respondents – uncertainty about existing and pending potential regulatory impacts – chosen by 29 per cent – and ethical issues around GenAI at seven per cent.

On these findings, Awada said: “Defining how organisations are going to approach, develop and integrate new capabilities across operations is a critical first step to ensuring that firms are well positioned to mitigate risks, while effectively harnessing the benefits afforded by GenAI.”

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