ESMA Clarification on AI for Firms Engaging with Retail Investment Clients

ESMA has issued guidance for investment firms using AI, emphasising client best interests, to ensure compliance with MiFID II and safeguard investors. Below is a summary of that guidance.

The advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers transformative opportunities in retail investment services, enhancing efficiency, innovation, and decision-making. However, AI also presents risks such as algorithmic biases, data quality issues, and transparency challenges. Despite the initial phase of AI diffusion, its impact on firms' behaviours and retail investor protection is expected to be significant. Management bodies retain responsibility for decisions, whether made by humans or AI.

AI applications in investment services include customer service via chatbots, personalised investment advice, compliance support, risk management, fraud detection, and operational efficiency. The guidance addresses AI developed internally or adopted from third-party technologies, urging firms to control AI use by employees and ensure transparency in AI-driven decision-making processes.

Risks associated with AI include over-reliance, lack of transparency, data privacy issues, and algorithmic biases. Firms must implement robust governance, risk management frameworks, and data validation processes to mitigate these risks. The management body plays a crucial role in overseeing AI applications to ensure alignment with the firm's strategy and compliance framework. Training programs are essential for staff to manage AI technologies effectively.

Investment firms should ensure the suitability of AI tools, conduct thorough testing, and adhere to data protection regulations. Comprehensive records of AI utilisation and related complaints must be maintained to comply with MiFID II. ESMA's guidance aims to help firms harness AI's potential while prioritising investor protection and transparency. Continuous monitoring by ESMA and national authorities will guide further actions in this evolving area.

For the full ESMA article please click here… ESMA provides guidance to firms using artificial intelligence in investment services (

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