The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) and leading global accountancy body ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) are working together to help the accountancy profession enhance its understanding of ethical issues when deploying AI.

Through this new collaboration, ACCA’s quarter of a million members will have the opportunity to study for CISI’s Certificate in Ethical AI. AI experts at ACCA contributed content to the certificate, which will be available on ACCA Learning, its dedicated continuing learning platform for finance professionals.

Educational charity and professional body the CISI has a global membership of over 53,000 based in over 100 countries. The institute offers qualifications and lifelong e-learning opportunities for those working or aspiring to work in the capital markets, financial planning and wealth management professions.

The CISI launched its Certificate in Ethical Artificial Intelligence in November last year as part of its campaign to champion ethics and transparency in the use of AI. The certificate was introduced as part of Lord Mayor Michael Mainelli’s ethical AI initiative with key input from the steering group for this project. Mainelli is a chartered honorary fellow of the CISI, and also a fellow of ACCA and of BCS – The Chartered Institute for IT, which has developed a parallel qualification as part of his initiative, focusing on the technical aspects.

Since launch, more than 3,500 professionals, seven financial services regulators and four central banks across more than 50 countries have registered for the CISI certificate in ethical AI.

Machine learning/AI was listed as a priority future skill for the UK financial services sector by the Financial Services Skills Commission (FSSC) in a recent report, with the CISI noting that every one of the FSSC 13 future skills were being addressed by CISI’s digital CPD modules.

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Commenting on this, ACCA chief executive, Helen Brand, said: “AI brings huge opportunities to a wide range of financial and business areas, from planning and audit, through to compliance, data analytics and sustainability. But it also brings risks such as poor transparency and bias. It’s vital that AI is adopted in a responsible way, and accountants with their long-standing commitment to ethics are central to driving this. So we’re delighted to be working with CISI to enhance skills in this area.”

CISI chief executive officer, Tracy Vegro, added: “We are delighted to confirm this partnership with ACCA, whose objectives are aligned with our own in developing high ethical standards for global practitioners. Technology and trust must go hand in hand and ethical frameworks are essential for AI development, supported by industry-wide skills and training. Responsible deployment of these technologies is central to the agenda.”

Lord Mayor Mainelli concluded: “The UK has become a trailblazer in the development and adoption of AI, harnessing the immense growth opportunities that it brings. We face two headwinds – a growing skills gap, from board to entry level, and what are, for many, unprecedented ethical perils in AI’s deployment. I am delighted that the three professional bodies of which I am proud to be a fellow – the ACCA, BCS and the CISI – have joined their formidable complementary forces to tackle these head on.”