7 minute read 6 Nov 2023
Overhead view of business meetings

How Europe’s FS leaders are approaching generative AI adoption

By Ayman Awada

EY EMEIA Financial Services Technology Consulting Leader

Passionate about driving positive societal and economic change through technology. Experienced in architecture, strategy, cloud and technology transformation. Championing diversity within technology.

7 minute read 6 Nov 2023
Related topics AI Financial Services EMEIA

Combining the best of human-driven insight with the breadth of generative AI capabilities is key to unlocking value across financial services.

In brief
  • Europe’s financial services sector is embracing opportunity in generative AI adoption, with spending set to increase significantly over the coming year.
  • Financial services leaders believe AI will drive productivity, but more strategic, long-term planning for training and upskilling is required.
  • The main concerns from leaders lie with the lack of understanding of generative AI in their workforce, future regulation, and ethical considerations.

After more than three decades of major digital transformation in financial services, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI (GenAI) technologies is reshaping opportunity, value creation and the future of work across the sector.

  • Artificial intelligence and generative AI

    AI is a broad term for a set of technologies that develop or simulate intelligence in machines, including by performing tasks that traditionally required human intelligence. GenAI is a subset of AI, referring to a specific category of models capable of generating new and original content, including text, images, video and music.

    In recent months, the remarkable capabilities of ChatGPT and other GenAI models have captured the public imagination, creating an imperative to act and accentuating organizational challenges. We therefore use the term “GenAI” in the context of these near-term implications.

    But AI is about more than the recent wave of GenAI models. It has been evolving for decades, and the future will bring more tech breakthroughs. Recognizing this, we use the term “AI” in the context of companies’ longer-term strategy, business models and organizational change.

In Europe’s financial boardrooms, AI is prominent on every agenda – from an opportunity, risk, customer, legal, regulatory and compliance perspective. Leaders recognize the potential of GenAI’s large language models (LLMs)to transform propositions, from customer support and experience to internal operations, and are actively assessing opportunities to realize productivity gains.

The EY European Financial Services AI Survey – which canvassed the views of executives from 60 financial institutions across the region – evidences the excitement, optimism and sense of opportunity shared by leaders, as they assess the road ahead for AI and GenAI adoption across their organization.

  • About the EY 2023 European Financial Services AI Survey

    In September and October 2023, EY conducted a survey of senior business leaders to understand how they view the potential impacts of AI integration on productivity, talent, skills and risk management, as well as plans for capital allocation and spending on GenAI technologies.

    Through an online survey, 60 unique responses were collected with 100% representing the C-suite and C-suite minus one. Respondents represented 13 countries and three industry sectors.

But executives from across banking, insurance and wealth and asset management firms also highlight the complex, multidimensional challenges that the sector is already navigating through AI adoption – of maximizing human capital and experience, enhancing business efficiency and mitigating emerging risks.

In managing the next phase of AI adoption, leaders must adopt a strategic mindset. AI must not be a “bolt-on” strategy, siloed from the wider goals and objectives of the business. To enable responsible innovation and value creation, which supports the development of people driving the future of financial services across Europe, AI needs to be a fully integrated component of firms’ strategy.

Advancing the artificial intelligence opportunity

European financial services leaders’ sense of optimism and confidence in the future of GenAI adoption is clear; 63% are excited about what the acceleration of systems, applications and models could mean for their business.

For many firms, the rise of GenAI creates the potential to augment existing AI use cases, whether that’s better understanding and communicating with customers, automating background tasks or personalizing engagement.

Among European banks, insurers and wealth and asset managers, use of AI is most prominent in fields of data science, operations, IT, marketing and sales, and customer support.

In an intensely competitive sector, leaders are gauging progress relative to their peers; over half perceive their firms to be on a par with competitors, while under a quarter believe their firm is behind the curve.

In a year’s time, almost half (47%) of leaders want to have established GenAI capabilities across a wider range of use cases. Just over a fifth are aiming to experiment with GenAI adoption to inform a longer-term plan; another fifth plan to rapidly accelerate their GenAI adoption to move ahead of peers.

We expect the pace of change to continue to challenge firms’ ability to adapt and respond. The rate and efficacy of firms’ AI adoption will become an increasingly important competitive edge.

With spending on GenAI technologies already widespread – 60% of firms have actively invested in the past year – it is the strategic execution of AI adoption and programs which will differentiate leaders in the sector. In the near term, competition looks set to continue, with 75% of executives planning to increase capital allocation over the year ahead.

Realizing the potential of AI to enhance productivity

Europe’s financial sector leaders are targeting increased productivity, customer benefits and operational efficiencies through their investment in GenAI, but realizing and capitalizing on potential gains requires in-depth, long-term planning. This is not yet in full force across the sector.

More than three-quarters (77%) of financial services leaders across Europe expect GenAI technologies to deliver a windfall to productivity and are bracing for a significant impact to their workforce and operations. The potential of AI is huge and opens up new avenues for growth.

Two-thirds (68%) of respondents anticipate that up to a quarter of all roles will require AI training or upskilling over the next year; nearly a fifth (17%) believe it could be as much as half. Action to support productivity gains through training and upskilling is not yet widespread, however. More than a third of respondents (35%) have no plans in place to train their workforce in GenAI technologies, while a further 42% described their plans as being “in their infancy”. Taking a more focused approach, seven have put training in place for targeted groups, with a further six reporting developed plans.

It is crucial that firms actively consider the ways in which AI and GenAI technologies that can radically increase automation and big data handling may change both the nature of work, and the ways in which people learn and build experience throughout their career.

Potential of AI to enhance productivity


of financial services leaders across Europe expect GenAI technologies to deliver a windfall to productivity.

Adapting for AI-enabled early careers

Europe’s financial services sector leaders are considering the potential impacts of AI adoption on the next generation of talent joining their organization.

Over half (60%) of executives expect new technologies to have a significant impact on the roles and tasks undertaken in entry level or graduate roles. To manage the impact, 35% of firms plan to integrate AI training within their graduate program, while a quarter (25%) will undertake a more widespread restructuring of roles and responsibilities across entry level positions.

By removing repetitive tasks and increasing non-human resourcing, AI can streamline administration, increase the rate of execution and build capacity across a team – creating opportunity to improve employee experience and drive engagement. It is encouraging to see forward planning and development of graduate schemes already in place across Europe’s financial services sector firms. It is this long-term mindset that will support the most effective integration of technology; ultimately, it’s not about what technologies can deliver but how they are applied and what they enable people to achieve.

Assessing opportunities to integrate GenAI technologies as part of firms’ talent strategy can also help build a holistic picture of the structure of roles, skills gaps and training opportunities across their workforce.

Looking to the future and considering the attributes most valuable in a GenAI-enabled workforce, Europe’s financial services sector leaders want to attract candidates with innovative and interdisciplinary mindsets, who are “tech savvy” and experimental. Among experienced talent, financial services sector leaders expect data science and innovation, information and technology and operational skills to be most in demand as AI adoption accelerates over the next two years.

Harnessing the benefits of AI for all stakeholders

The Turing Institute’s 2021 report, AI in Financial Services1 , emphasized the need for responsible innovation across machine learning, non-traditional data and automation – a need that will only increase as the use cases of GenAI evolve.

Leaders’ most prominent areas of concern around AI and GenAI adoption – knowledge and skills gaps, the impact on their people, regulatory change and the ethical implications of AI – evidence their commitment to the responsible deployment of new technologies.

Leaders’ concerns around the ethics of GenAI center on privacy, transparency and explicability, alongside the potential for discrimination, bias, and lack of fairness.

To counter these risks, some firms are on the front foot; nearly a fifth (18%) have already put an AI ethics framework in place, while 30% are in the early stages of development.

Defining accountability is critical to ensuring that AI adoption is fully integrated as part of a sustainable business strategy. While half (50%) of FS firms’ technology teams will be responsible for the integration of AI across the business, reporting to the chief information or chief digital officer, nearly four in 10 firms (38%) are yet to determine lines of accountability.

Establishing exactly how organizations are going to approach, develop and integrate new capabilities across operations is a critical first step to mitigating risks. By ensuring that robust governance frameworks are in place, financial services firms can build confidence in their ability to harness the benefits of AI and GenAI technologies, both for customers and their people.

Benefits of AI


of FS firms’ technology teams will be responsible for the integration of AI across the business.


  • Undertake a review of potential AI use cases across business divisions to inform long-term planning.

  • Coordinate cross-divisional teams to incorporate AI considerations into long-term training and recruitment strategies and to address any talent gaps.

  • Assess potential for capacity constraints in key areas and skillsets driving growth.

  • Ensure that team structure and leadership is structured to deliver against timelines across strategic plans and that direction comes from the top.

  • Ensure robust governance frameworks are in place to address a broad range of risks.


Leaders across Europe’s financial services sector are excited by the opportunities AI and generative AI technologies present. As new technologies change operations, processes and customer experiences, concerns around understanding, skills gaps, regulatory impacts and ethics remain prominent. A long-term, strategic approach is key to mitigating risks and maximizing value creation for financial services firms and their people.

About this article

By Ayman Awada

EY EMEIA Financial Services Technology Consulting Leader

Passionate about driving positive societal and economic change through technology. Experienced in architecture, strategy, cloud and technology transformation. Championing diversity within technology.

Related topics AI Financial Services EMEIA