Davos 2019: Three financial leaders on the responsible use of artificial intelligence

Amid the excitement surrounding the potential of artificial intelligence, financial institutions have a responsibility to ensure that AI is used in a way that's fair, transparent and accountable, according to TD Group President and Chief Executive Officer, Bharat Masrani.

"TD is in the trust business, and we have worked hard to develop that trust over the past 163 years," he said.

Masrani's comments came as part of a panel discussion among global financial sector leaders in Davos, Switzerland during the World Economic Forum on Thursday.

AI is transforming the financial sector, giving financial institutions a tremendous opportunity to know their customer better and deliver experiences they would have never imagined.

The panel discussion—which was hosted by Deloitte and also featured Sabine Keller-Busse, Chief Operating Officer of UBS, and Ann Cairns, Vice Chairman of Mastercard—focused on how financial institutions can unlock the opportunity of AI while upholding their responsibilities to customers, employees and society. Here's what they had to say:

Maintaining customer trust

When it comes to customers, the panelists agreed that trust is one of the most important considerations in the responsible use of AI. Customers trust their financial institutions to deliver a great experience that's safe and secure in whichever channel the customer chooses to use—and that trust must be maintained even when technology is changing.

Masrani explained that banks must think carefully about how and where they deploy new technology. He noted that TD's acquisition of Layer 6, a globally-recognized AI company, was rooted in the decision to use AI to improve the bank's existing processes bringing us closer to our customers.

Since acquiring Layer 6 just over a year ago, TD has already improved its predictive capabilities by more than 30 per cent in various use cases, noted Masrani.

Empowering employees

The panelists also emphasized that empowering employees is one of the most important considerations when making decisions about the use of AI within their organizations. Masrani explained that the addition of Layer 6 to TD helped create a new energy throughout the organization, and that the support of TD employees has been a significant factor in the bank's success when it comes to using AI.

Providing the right tools and training to employees, added Masrani, is critical to ensure people can take advantage of the new jobs that the adoption of AI will create.

Benefiting society

All three panelists agreed that financial institutions have an important role to play to ensure that the widespread adoption of AI benefits society. Masrani highlighted the TD Ready Challenge as an example of how banks can help the wider population develop skills that will be needed in the future. In 2018, as part of this initiative, TD donated $1 million to an organization that's building a solution to help people develop new skills and prepare for future career opportunities in the age of AI and automation.

On the journey to adopt AI, Masrani added that financial institutions have the responsibility to create an environment that is positive and inclusive for everyone.

To watch the entire panel discussion, visit the Deloitte at Davos 2019 website here.