A recent study, by Kin + Carta, finds a significant 94% of financial service leaders have expressed confidence in their firm’s digital readiness for the future. However, there exists an underlying unease, with 26% admitting to experiencing “tech anxiety” related to AI and machine learning technologies. The research, conducted by the global digital transformation consultancy Kin + Carta, delves deep into the sentiments of top professionals regarding the rapid technological advancements in the industry.

The term “tech anxiety” is used to describe the apprehension felt by senior leaders due to the swift technological evolutions which might influence their business operations. Notably, 18% of these senior financial leaders have expressed specific reservations about AI and machine learning. When factored in with concerns related to Generative AI, the apprehension towards AI innovations nearly matches the anxiety caused by cyber security, which remains at the forefront at 29%.


Concerns over AI and Machine Learning: Data and Skills

Of the leaders highlighting AI and ML as areas of concern, 34% attribute this anxiety to the absence of trustworthy data. A larger 41% believe it’s due to an internal skills deficit, hinting at a perceived lack of robust data infrastructure within their organisations. In response to these concerns, the study reveals an intriguing trend: 15% of finance leaders are amplifying their investments in AI and ML technologies, surpassing investments in other segments of their digital portfolio.

These insights have been presented in Kin + Carta’s report titled “2024 Leadership Priorities in Tech: Leading through tech anxiety in Financial Services”. This forms a segment of the comprehensive “2024 Leadership Priorities in Tech” study, encapsulating views and concerns of 800 senior business leaders from both the US and UK. The participants predominantly represent C-suite ranks and decision-making capacities within organisations boasting a turnover of £800m+ or revenue exceeding $1bn.

Amidst the backdrop of economic unpredictability, the report underlines the dual nature of increasing digitalisation in financial systems and services – a potent combination of risks and rewards. A strong 72% of participants recognise the pivotal role of digital transformation investments for their business’s success. Additionally, 24% of the leaders identified the optimisation of processes and enhancement of efficiencies as an essential data-related task.


Expert Views: Balancing Caution with Opportunity

Sharing insights on the findings, Richard Neish, Global Chief Strategy Officer at Kin + Carta, commented, “Security remains paramount in terms of tech-induced anxiety within financial services. Despite this, the advent of groundbreaking technologies, notably AI, has introduced a fresh set of challenges and apprehensions. Even though the sector is substantially digitally advanced, it doesn’t shield leaders from exercising caution upon the introduction of novel technologies.”

Neish further elaborated on the broader landscape, “With economic instability, there’s heightened scrutiny on budgets and an intensified push for value delivery. However, such transformative phases also herald immense opportunities. To truly thrive in these times, leaders must demonstrate adaptability, efficiently harness data, and mould their transformations to align with specific business requirements.”

Download the research here.