AI has become a significant opportunity for financial companies to leverage their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. I had a privileged glimpse into C-suite analysis of this critical undertaking when I served as the scribe for the Twenty-Third Annual James A. and Linda R. Mitchell/The American College Forum on Ethical Leadership in Financial Services. The Forum focused on trustworthy AI in the realm of financial services, and how companies are integrating business and ethics considerations into their strategic discussions.

Distinguished executives described how they have implemented AI-driven strategies while business ethicists queried them on creating secure and efficient solutions that meet the evolving needs of clients in the financial industry. I gleaned several insights that while relevant for fintech companies using AI, transcend the fintech space and reach other corners of financial services.

• When integrating AI into organizational culture, embrace constructive dissent. When participants in our forum were asked how financial companies should balance speed and safety, the group elevated education on corporate values, consumer expectations, and best practices that allow individuals to raise their hands to flag problems and collaborate on potential solutions. They also noted the importance of creating a cultural mindset that encourages people to slow down and have conversations voicing their concerns.

• At the intersection of fintech and insurance, data holds immense value and risk. There are increasingly significant ethical and practical implications of data utilization in insurance underwriting. Thought-provoking questions emerge about privacy, risk assessment and the future of insurance industry practices. Our forum participants raised the concern that some companies prioritize meeting regulatory requirements without delving deeper into the ethical implications of their actions. Regulations serve as a baseline for fulfilling minimal societal expectations, which highlights an opportunity for fintech companies to demonstrate ethical behavior and drive meaningful change.

• Effective governance is at the heart of successful AI-enabled innovation. Forum participants strongly concurred that this requires a focus on transparency and aligning business strategies with the best interests of customers. This is what powers trust and fosters strong relationships that stand the test of time. In selling trust, the role of executive leadership in balancing safety and speed is a key factor in navigating the risk that comes with the intense pressure to lead in this rapidly evolving and innovative technology space.

• Ethical decision-making is a multi-faceted process. Ensuring integrity and compliance within organizations requires navigating complexities. This requires a skillset capable of ensuring that the utilization of emerging technologies is propelled by strategic thinking rather than technical capabilities. Remarkably, when asked what the most important skillset in the new AI-era is, most executives in our forum responded that it’s critical thinking.

Navigating the complexities of the modern financial landscape while upholding the values of trust, integrity and security is achievable. Education on ethical decision-making skills is a pathway to implementing innovation that prioritizes trust and integrity in driving business success.

Domarina Oshana, Ph.D., is a social scientist and research development professional. She is the director of research and operations for The American College Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics in Financial Services.