Perspectives on Generative AI in Financial Services

Article written by James Bowden, Mark Cummins, Godsway Tetteh from the University of Strathclyde.

Note: Aligning with the Generative AI focus, segments of this blog were generated by ChatGPT using notes taken on the day capturing the presentations and discussions. The authors edited this generated content accordingly.


Presentation Highlights

We are delighted to share some highlights and discussion points from the "Generative AI for Financial Services" event held at the University of Strathclyde in Q4 2023. This event provided an important platform for in-depth discussions and explorations surrounding Generative AI and potential applications in the financial services industry.

The session commenced with Martin Robertson (Chief Commercial Officer) of Level E Research, who offered useful insights into the innovative utilisation of Discriminative AI within Level E’s automated investment strategy offerings. The core emphasis here was on the critical role of explainability in building transparency and trust with investment clients. Martin expertly differentiated between Generative AI and Discriminative AI, sparking thought-provoking discussions regarding the creative potential of Generative AI, especially in the context of content generation.

Following this, our co-organiser, James Bowden (Lecturer in Financial Technology, University of Strathclyde), delved into an extensive exploration of Generative AI applications in the financial services sector. He thoughtfully delineated the associated risks, which included concerns related to data privacy, cybersecurity vulnerabilities, embedded bias, explainability limitations, and implications for financial stability.

Annalisa Riccardi (Senior Lecturer in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Strathclyde) then took to the stage to demonstrate a clever use case of Generative AI applied to automate satellite scheduling, with a particular focus on enhancing explainability. Drawing on this discussion, Annalisa then unveiled ongoing research at the University of Strathclyde, conducted in collaboration with Mark Cummins (Professor Financial Technology, University of Strathclyde), James Bowden and Hao Zhang (Research Associate, Financial Regulation Innovation Lab, University of Strathclyde), which is leveraging Generative AI for earnings call analysis.

The engaging presentation session was brought to a close with Blair Brown's (Senior Knowledge Exchange Fellow in Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University of Strathclyde) insightful overview of AI regulation, standards, and trustworthiness. Drawing from an engineering perspective and its relevance to the financial services sector, Blair emphasised the crucial role of human-AI oversight and interactions, spanning human-before-the-loop, human-in-the-loop, and human-over-the-loop scenarios.


Discussion Insights

These thoughtful presentations provided a solid foundation for the rich participant discussions that followed. These exchanges were marked by their liveliness and content-rich discussions, offering valuable insights from both practical and academic perspectives. The key themes covered in these discussions included:

  • Firm-Level Regulatory Responsibility and Compliance:
    • The group emphasised the importance of regulatory compliance in the financial services sector, particularly concerning the use of Generative AI as a nascent technology. As the responsibility for regulatory compliance lies with the financial firm, this may incentivise in-house Generative AI development. The emerging approaches to AI regulation within the UK and the EU in particular provide frameworks within which to consider the responsible and regulatory compliant use of Generative AI within organisations.
  • Data Protection and Zero Tolerance for Breaches:
    • Due to the potential for significant fines, there is zero tolerance for data breaches in financial services. Data protection and consumer protection were key concerns around Generative AI, with different standards and datasets complicating matters. Options around private and localised installations of Generative AI systems need to be considered.
  • Ethics and Accountability:
    • Participants discussed the ethical dimension of AI in finance and the need for accountability. They suggested that CEOs and wider Boards of Directors should be held responsible if ethical breaches occur from the use of Generative AI, and governments might need to force companies to self-regulate with severe penalties for non-compliance.
  • Regulatory Framework and International Challenges:
    • The group highlighted the challenges of creating AI regulation in the EU when a significant portion of the AI market is based in the US, which is particularly the case in respect of Generative AI innovation. The discussion touched on principles-based regulation and the potential shift toward hard regulation, citing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as an example.
  • Traceability and Auditability:
    • The need for traceability and auditability in AI decision-making was discussed. The presence of an accountable human in the process was emphasised, and there was a concern about the lack of understanding of material risks in Generative AI.

The collective knowledge shared at this event provides important perspectives on the future of Generative AI in the financial services sector. The discussion provides an impetus to the research and innovation ambitions of University of Strathclyde in respect of cutting-edge Generative AI research and industry engagement, while the importance that emerged around regulatory considerations motivates an important direction of travel for the Financial Regulation Innovation Lab in terms of its AI and Compliance priority theme, which focuses on Utilising emerging technologies to simplify compliance process and monitoring.

About the Authors

Professor Mark Cummins is Professor of Financial Technology at the Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde, where he leads the FinTech Cluster as part of the university’s Technology and Innovation Zone leadership and connection into the Glasgow City Innovation District. As part of this role, he is driving collaboration between the FinTech Cluster and the other strategic clusters identified by the University of Strathclyde, in particular the Space, Quantum and Industrial Informatics Clusters. Professor Cummins is the lead investigator at the University of Strathclyde on the newly funded (via UK Government and Glasgow City Council) Financial Regulation Innovation Lab initiative, a novel industry project under the leadership of FinTech Scotland and in collaboration with the University of Glasgow. He previously held the posts of Professor of Finance at the Dublin City University (DCU) Business School and Director of the Irish Institute of Digital Business. Professor Cummins has research interests in the following areas: financial technology (FinTech), with particular interest in Explainable AI and Generative AI; quantitative finance; energy and commodity finance; sustainable finance; model risk management. Professor Cummins has over 50 publication outputs. He has published in leading international discipline journals such as: European Journal of Operational Research; Journal of Money, Credit and Banking; Journal of Banking and Finance; Journal of Financial Markets; Journal of Empirical Finance; and International Review of Financial Analysis. Professor Cummins is co-editor of the open access Palgrave title Disrupting Finance: Fintech and Strategy in the 21st Century. He is also co-author of the Wiley Finance title Handbook of Multi-Commodity Markets and Products: Structuring, Trading and Risk Management. 


Web: University Profile for Professor Mark Cummins

LinkedIn: Mark Cummins - Professor of Financial Technology - University of Strathclyde | LinkedIn


Dr. James Bowden is Lecturer in Financial Technology at the Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde, where he is the programme director of the MSc Financial Technology. Prior to this, he gained experience as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Associate at Bangor Business School, and he has previous industry experience within the global financial index team at FTSE Russell. Dr Bowden’s research focusses on different areas of financial technology (FinTech), and his published work involves the application of text analysis algorithms to financial disclosures, news reporting, and social media. More recently he has been working on projects incorporating audio analysis into existing financial text analysis models, and investigating the use cases of satellite imagery for the purpose of corporate environmental monitoring. Dr Bowden has published in respected international journals, such as the European Journal of Finance, the Journal of Comparative Economics, and the Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money. He has also contributed chapters to books including “Disruptive Technology in Banking and Finance”, published by Palgrave Macmillan. His commentary on financial events has previously been published in The Conversation UK, the World Economic Forum, MarketWatch and Business Insider, and he has appeared on international TV stations to discuss financial innovations such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).


Web: University Profile for Dr. James Bowden

LinkedIn: James Bowden - Lecturer in Financial Technology - Strathclyde Business School | LinkedIn

Dr. Godsway Korku Tetteh is a Research Associate at the Financial Regulation Innovation Lab, University of Strathclyde (UK). He has several years of experience in financial inclusion research including digital financial inclusion. His research focuses on the impacts of digital technologies and financial innovations (FinTech) on financial inclusion, welfare, and entrepreneurship in developing countries. His current project focuses on the application of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence to drive efficiency in regulatory compliance. Previously, he worked as a Knowledge Exchange Associate with the Financial Technology (FinTech) Cluster at the University of Strathclyde. He also worked with the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance at the University of Cambridge to build the capacity of FinTech entrepreneurs, regulators, and policymakers from across the globe on FinTech and Regulatory Innovation. Godsway has a Ph.D. in Economics from Maastricht University (Netherlands) and has published in reputable journals such as Small Business Economics.


Web: University Profile for Dr. Godsway Tetteh

LinkedIn: Godsway K Tetteh, Ph.D - Research Associate (Financial Regulation Innovation Lab) - University of Strathclyde | LinkedIn