Evident: majority of banking CEOs staying quiet about AI plans despite performance boost

Evident released its report on leadership in artificial intelligence (AI) for banking. Results show that banking leaders that demonstrate AI leadership are seeing improved market performance. JP Morgan, Chase, TD Bank, BNP Paribas, Intesa Sanpaolo and UBS were the highest scoring banks in this regard, outperforming their competition by 1.7x over the last 12 months, highlighting the economic argument for banks to address their AI plans externally.

Despite this, Evident’s research found that the majority of big banks are failing to set the AI agenda through their leadership comms. While over half (54%) of banks have established AI as a strategic objective with investors, just four (BNP Paribas, DBS Bank, JPMorgan Chase, and Société Générale) publicly disclose the number of AI use cases and expected outcomes from projects that further their AI roadmap in investor relations materials.

Only a quarter (24%) of banking CEOs are speaking publicly about their AI plans, according to the report. Evident’s research also finds that just 10 banks accounted for nearly 80% of industry-specific mentions of AI across leading news outlets, with Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and Morgan Stanley generating nearly 45% of all media mentions – thanks in large part to their senior executive teams’ willingness to discuss the topic.

Alexandra Mousavizadeh, Evident co-founder and CEO, said in a statement: “Against a backdrop of unrelenting hype and noise, every bank is under pressure to communicate its AI roadmap and strategic vision, as well as where it expects to achieve ROI for its ongoing AI transformation efforts.

“A handful of banking leaders clearly recognise the need to be vocal and show leadership around AI – not just to clarify and reinforce their institution’s response to a technological paradigm shift, but to anticipate questions from investors, customers, and prospective talent. However, many of their peers simply aren’t showing up to the debate. The banking leaders who lead the external discourse and demonstrate their credentials have a massive opportunity to dominate the AI conversation and steal a march on their rivals.”

Banks’ AI claims are not being reinforced by their CEOs

Evident’s report shows that the majority of big banks are struggling with a continued disconnect between their overarching AI positioning and their exec team’s commitment to telling their AI story. Nearly all (95%) of the banks covered in the report have issued an AI-specific press release in the past five years, including almost 400 AI-specific press releases issued in just the past two years. But over the same period, fewer than half of bank CEOs have discussed specific AI themes and issues in the media, with 70% of those who have broached the topic restricting their commentary to general tech trends, rather than discussing the specific implications for their bank.

Likewise, while 88% of the banks post about AI on LinkedIn, with the volume of AI content more than doubling (+138%) since April 2023, just 16% of CEOs have posted about AI on LinkedIn. And the story is the same across other channels. Just 26% of bank CEOs mentioned AI in their annual letter to shareholders, while fewer than one in five (18%) have appeared at an AI or tech conference.

By contrast, bank CTOs and CIOs are more likely to engage on AI in the media (+7%) and much more likely to engage on AI on LinkedIn (+28%) compared to the CEO cohort, and when they do so, it is generally with greater specificity. Over four-fifths (83%) mention AI directly in relation to the bank they represent and/or discuss specific AI initiatives being pursued in-house.

Evident c0-founder and COO Annabel Ayles said in a statement: “Most banks are still leaving it to their tech people to comment on AI issues. But this ignores the fact that CEOs overwhelmingly set the banks’ agenda and drive outsized reach and engagement in everything they do.

“Given that AI sits at the top of every banking leadership team’s agenda, it seems incoherent that so many CEOs are failing to publicly engage with the topic. Our research shows that the leadership’s willingness to discuss AI strategy is increasingly being interpreted externally as an indication of the bank’s AI maturity, in turn filtering through to the share price.”


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