A PYMNTS Company

EU Watchdog Mandates Boardroom Accountability for AI in Banks

 |  May 30, 2024

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has issued its inaugural statement on artificial intelligence (AI), emphasizing the non-negotiable boardroom responsibility and legal duty of banks and investment firms to protect their customers when utilizing AI technologies. The announcement, reported by Reuters, highlights how firms and banks regulated within the 27-member European Union can integrate AI into their operations without breaching the EU’s MiFID securities law.

While AI offers promising advancements in enhancing investment strategies and client services, it also introduces significant risks. ESMA underscored the potential impact on retail investor protection, urging firms to exercise caution.

“Importantly, firms’ decisions remain the responsibility of management bodies, irrespective of whether those decisions are taken by people or AI-based tools,” ESMA stated. The watchdog insisted that a firm’s duty to act in the best interest of clients is paramount, regardless of the technology used.

Read more: Meta & OpenAI CEOs Back EU AI Regulations

The EU’s directive covers AI tools developed or adopted internally by banks and financial institutions, as well as third-party AI technologies like ChatGPT and Google Bard. This applies even if senior management is not directly aware of their use. The statement emphasized the necessity for firm management to understand and oversee the application of AI technologies within their operations.

“The firm’s management body should have an appropriate understanding of how AI technologies are applied and used within their firm and should ensure appropriate oversight of these technologies,” ESMA said.

The directive is a crucial clarification of compliance with MiFID regulations and stands apart from the EU’s comprehensive AI rules set to take effect next month. These upcoming regulations are anticipated to set a global benchmark for AI governance in both business and daily life.

On a broader scale, the Group of Seven (G7) economies are also working towards establishing international safeguards to ensure the safe development and deployment of rapidly evolving AI technologies.

Source: Reuters