Financial Institutions Expected to Boost AI Investments in 2024, with Customer Service a Major Focus, New Syntellis Report Finds

Interest rate changes continue to drive business model changes

CHICAGO – Jan. 30, 2024 – The financial services industry has been slow to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) tools, but AI applications are expected to accelerate in the next 12 to 18 months, according to a new survey report from Syntellis Performance Solutions, now part of Strata Decision Technology.

Syntellis' 2024 CFO Outlook for Financial Institutions report draws on annual survey data from finance leaders at banks, credit unions, farm credit associations, and other financial institutions across the U.S. The results provide insights on how institutions fared in 2023, as well as current and future industry challenges, trends, and priorities. In addition to heightened interest in AI, other key findings include:

  • Nearly all survey respondents (98%) predict interest rate changes will continue to be a primary driver of business model shifts throughout 2024.
  • More than a third (37%) of financial institutions remain undecided on whether to implement FedNow.
  • Generation Z is a primary customer target for nearly half (48%) of financial institutions.
  • Commercial loans are projected to be the industry’s greatest area of profitability growth in 2024, according to 89% of respondents.

"Financial institutions across the country continue to face numerous economic and market pressures in 2024, including interest rate shifts, evolving customer demands, and rising competition from neobanks and other digital-only providers," said Eric Wheeler, Senior Director of Product Management at Syntellis Performance Solutions (now part of Strata Decision Technology). "Our survey shows that banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions are boosting investments in data and analytics, AI, and other technologies to enhance customer service, increase efficiencies, and streamline processes as they work to navigate these challenges."

AI Tools Expected to Gain Momentum in 2024

Customer service applications of AI are particularly low in the financial services industry but are expected to see sizable growth in coming months. Just 12% of survey respondents said their institutions use AI tools for customer service, such as chatbots to expedite customer communications, while only 8% use AI to personalize the customer experience. However, 50% plan to implement AI to elevate the customer experience over the next 12 to 18 months, making it the industry’s biggest area of anticipated growth for AI applications. Another 42% plan to implement AI for customer communications tools.

Interest Rate Changes Expected to Remain a Top Driver of Business Model Changes

Long-running economic uncertainty continues to be a major concern for U.S. financial services leaders. Asked what they see as the top three drivers of business model changes in 2024, respondents cited:

  1. The impacts of interest rate changes (98%)
  2. Customer attrition (68%)
  3. Portfolio growth (51%)

This was the second consecutive year interest rate changes were identified as the industry’s biggest driver of business model changes (90% of respondents selected it in the 2023 survey).

Many Remain Uncertain about FedNow Implementation

Despite concerns over the future impacts of digital banking, many financial institutions remain undecided on FedNow, the federal government’s new instant payment service. Nearly half of survey respondents said they either are not implementing FedNow (11%) or have not decided whether to implement it (37%). Those who are not implementing FedNow already have similar private-sector solutions or are considering alternatives. Less than one in five respondents (19%) said their institutions have already implemented FedNow, while a third (33%) plan to implement it within the next 12 to 18 months.

Generation Z Is a Major Target Audience for Financial Institutions

As financial services leaders shape future customer strategies, Generation Z — individuals born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s — are a primary focus. About half (48%) of respondents said their organizations are targeting Gen Z as a priority customer base, and another 19% said they plan to do so within the next 12 months. More than two-thirds (69%) either already invested in or plan to invest in more modern technology for financial planning and analysis in response to Gen Z considerations.

Financial Institutions Expect to See Profitability Growth Across Many Areas

Even with continued economic challenges, financial services leaders are overwhelmingly optimistic their institutions will see profitability growth across a range of products in 2024. Nearly nine in 10 (89%) anticipate commercial loans will be a key growth area, while 88% noted credit cards, 82% indicated small business loans, and 80% cited both deposits and mortgage loans as core sources of profitability growth.

Download the full 2024 CFO Outlook for Financial Institutions report here.

About Strata Decision Technology

Strata Decision Technology provides a cloud-based platform for software and service solutions to help organizations better analyze, plan, and perform in support of their missions. With the combination of Syntellis Performance Solutions’ Axiom solutions, hundreds of organizations rely on Strata to provide their financial analytics, planning, and performance solutions. Strata has been named the market leader for Business Decision Support for 17 consecutive years. By uniting these two industry leaders, Strata continues to deliver market-leading solutions and world-class service, with an increased focus on accelerating innovation. For more information, please go to

About Syntellis Performance Solutions

Syntellis Performance Solutions, now part of Strata Decision Technology, provides innovative enterprise performance management software, data, and intelligence solutions for financial institutions. Syntellis’ Axiom software helps finance professionals elevate performance by acquiring insights, accelerating decisions, and advancing their business plans. For more information, please visit

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Media Contact:

Sally Brown, Inkhouse