Posted: 28 Jun. 2024 5 min. read

Three Generative AI insights from the Financial Executives International Leadership Summit

By Dipti Gulati, CEO US Audit & Assurance, Deloitte & Touche LLP

Talking points
  • Continuous learning can help finance professionals stay abreast of the latest advancements in Generative AI (GenAI) technology.
  • Finance leaders will likely need to brief the audit committee on cybersecurity issues associated with GenAI. 
  • Ethical safeguards can enhance trust in GenAI models while allowing the organization to capitalize on the technology’s benefits.

The recent Financial Executives International Leadership Summit demonstrated just how eager finance leaders are to explore GenAI’s potential to transform and improve finance and accounting. The summit also highlighted the crucial role CFOs and financial executives can play in how the innovative technology gets adopted across the entire organization.

When my colleague Beena Ammanath and I sat down for a fireside discussion at the summit, it was a lively conversation and we were delighted by the audience contributions that emerged on a range of GenAI topics. Here are three key insights from the session.

Plan to close skills gaps

GenAI will likely provide extensive opportunities to accelerate or augment how we all work. In fact, the finance leaders in the room overwhelmingly agreed that the technology will impact the roles and responsibilities of finance and accounting professionals within the next five years. To address this shift, as reported in a recent Deloitte CFO survey, half say they expect to develop GenAI skills among their existing staff. At the same time, 60% responded that bringing in new talent with GenAI skills is extremely important or very important.

Either way, finance leaders can benefit by fostering a culture of continuous learning. This focus sets an expectation that teams may need to understand how AI impacts change and growth. External training programs and hands-on learning can assist with staying abreast of the latest advancements. It’s also a good idea to connect with data scientists, engineers, and other core technologists in the organization before launching any GenAI pilot or proof of concept.

Know the cybersecurity issues

In a March 2024 report, Deloitte and the Center for Audit Quality found that cybersecurity is a top priority for 69% of surveyed audit committees over the next 12 months. At the same time, audit committees are asking a lot of good questions around GenAI risks and governance. That means finance leaders will likely need to be prepared to brief the audit committee on potential cyber-risks GenAI can pose to the organization.

Deepfakes, for instance, are synthetic media often intentionally created to misrepresent what a person said or did. With the advent of GenAI, deepfakes can be convincing enough to be used in cybercrime. On the flip side, GenAI tools can also be used to identify and predict cyber-attacks, allowing enterprises to get ahead of these threats.

Develop ethical guardrails

For all its promise, GenAI can also have some undesirable side effects. Examples include low transparency, hallucination, the potential for bias, and output that contradicts its intended purpose. These risks need to be understood and managed to promote trust—not only end-user trust in GenAI-powered tools, but trust in the organization itself.

Addressing the potential for side effects comes down to aligning people, processes, and technologies to promote risk mitigation and establish governance. A Trustworthy AI framework can help to pull these assets together into a set of ethical safeguards that span the entire GenAI lifecycle, from ideation to deployment. Finance leaders can take the lead in establishing GenAI governance so the organization can capitalize on the technology while preserving confidence in its models.

Finance leaders can take the lead in establishing GenAI governance so the organization can capitalize on the technology while preserving confidence in its models.

From disruption to transformation

In the end, GenAI proved to be a worthy—and timely—topic for the summit. The technology’s potential to revolutionize finance organizations came through loud and clear in the central themes that bubbled up during the sessions: talent, cybersecurity, and trust. A thoughtful approach to each of these can help finance leaders capture the value of this evolving technology for their own teams and the enterprise as a whole. For now, you can get started by experimenting through pilots to understand what’s possible and what works best for your organization.

What role can Deloitte play?

For many years, Deloitte has been helping clients harness the power of AI across the enterprise to drive trustworthy AI transformations. To learn more and get in touch about GenAI's potential to transform finance and accounting, please visit our web page: Responsible AI for Audit and Assurance.

This publication contains general information only and Deloitte is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. Deloitte shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.

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Dipti Gulati

Dipti Gulati

Chief Executive Officer | Audit & Assurance

Dipti Gulati is the chief executive officer of Deloitte’s US Audit & Assurance business, leading more than 17,000 professionals. She is the first racially and ethnically diverse woman to lead an Audit & Assurance business at a Big Four firm. In her role, Dipti is responsible for driving quality outcomes that enhance the integrity and trust in the capital markets. This includes a commitment to innovative and transformative audit and assurance services, high-quality client service excellence, and developing diverse teams. With more than 30 years of experience, Dipti brings a leadership style of inspiration and transparency. Within a highly regulated environment, she has served some of the largest global public companies, primarily in the financial services industry, and is recognized for her commitment to quality. She has held numerous leadership roles, most recently serving on Deloitte's US Board of Directors and its Risk and Regulatory Committee. As an immigrant, Dipti believes in holding the door open for the next generation of diverse leaders. Her commitment to both Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and advancing the accounting profession show up in her engagement with organizations like Ascend, NABA Inc, Out & Equal, and universities; and through advocacy for Deloitte’s Making Accounting Diverse and Equitable (MADE) commitment. She previously served on the board of the United Way of New York City. Dipti has been recognized by Ascend as a 2024 A-list honoree for her leadership and contributions to the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. She is a graduate of Lehigh University with a degree in accounting and earned her MBA from Columbia Business School with a concentration in Finance. She is a licensed CPA , and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.