Consob has published the 9th Research Paper of the Fintech series: "Artificial intelligence in the asset and wealth management" (24 June 2022)

Artificial intelligence in the asset and wealth management

N. Linciano, V. Caivano, D. Costa, P. Soccorso, T.N. Poli, G. Trovatore

FinTech n. 9 - June 2022 [PDF] (Italian version)
 

Abstract
The use of artificial intelligence techniques in asset and wealth management is under increasing scrutiny by regulators and supervisors interested in examining its benefits and costs.
The International Organization of Securities Commission (IOSCO) Report 'The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning by market intermediaries and asset managers', published in 2021, provides interesting insights into the scale and characteristics of the phenomenon. According to the IOSCO document, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) by financial intermediaries and asset managers is increasingly widespread globally. The availability of new technologies together with increasing data and computing power could significantly influence the business models of operators with specific regard to activities such as financial advice, risk management, client identification and monitoring, trading, and portfolio management. The use of AI technologies by financial intermediaries and asset managers can lead to both significant benefits for firms and investors, who may benefit from better conditions for investment services, and new risks or the amplification of existing risks with negative impacts on the efficiency of financial markets and the investor protection.
This paper takes up and develops the elements of the current institutional debate on the risks and opportunities arising from the use of new technologies in financial intermediation, also in the wake of evidence on the degree of use by the main asset management companies operating in the Italian market.
The first part discusses some defining issues concerning both the data universe and the available AI techniques and illustrates the potential of the applications of new technologies in the various phases of the portfolio management value chain, as well as the possible limits and risks associated with them. The main features of AI systems, classes of algorithms and the most popular learning methods are briefly illustrated in an Appendix.
The second part of the paper presents the results of a survey on the use of AI systems in asset management. The survey was carried out in July 2021 in collaboration with Assogestioni, and involved eight large asset management companies, belonging to groups representing more than 60% of the assets under management in Italy as of the first quarter of 2022, and collected information and data relating to all stages of the value chain, as well as managers' opinions on the expected benefits and potential risks associated with new technologies. From the evidence gathered, it emerges that managers indicate the development of AI systems as a strategic priority due to the expected benefits in terms of innovation in management strategies, maintaining a competitive position and increasing operational efficiency. All the companies participating in the survey believe that over the next five years, AI systems will find increasing application in the various phases of the investment process. Looking ahead, managers indicate the need for stringent human oversight of decision-making processes based on the use of AI systems, although control functions and governance procedures for the underlying algorithms and data used are still evolving.
The third part of the paper investigates the implications concerning the use of automation techniques in financial intermediation, from which both benefits and risks may arise for the investor. With particular reference to risks, issues concerning the governance of algorithms, the responsibility of providers and the protection of privacy are examined. The Appendix provides, more in general, a preliminary review of the current legal and institutional debate on technological innovation, also with regard to the proposed EU regulation on artificial intelligence.