One-third of financial services organizations lack a clear plan or the resources to address privacy risks related to customer data in the next year, according to a survey of 100 privacy executives in the banking, insurance and capital markets sectors in North America and Europe.

The survey, which was conducted by global professional services company Accenture, revealed that 70% of respondents see privacy as a key risk for their firms, increasing the need for a clear privacy strategy. According to Accenture, noting that 72% of respondents’ companies use consent to tailor customer-facing products and services, the report suggests that financial services firms incorporate privacy into the overall customer journey by giving customers more control over their data and deleting personal information upon request

“Given the renewed regulatory focus and threat of significant financial fines, it’s not surprising that financial services firms are making privacy a top priority,” Ben Shorten, a managing director in Accenture’s strategy and consulting group, said. “But these institutions should think beyond the compliance risks and consider the broader opportunity to elevate the customer experience around privacy. Consumers are willing to share information if there’s value in it for them, whether personalized offers, better services or more competitive pricing. Firms that understand how customers perceive and value data privacy have a clear opportunity to differentiate themselves.”

When asked which privacy risks will require the most effort to remediate over the next year, respondents most often cited privacy risk monitoring (51%), the accuracy and maintenance of records processing/ information asset registers (44%) and records management and data retention/deletion (41%). Accenture noted that these risks are heightened by the “right to erasure” requests under GDPR and CCPA, which empower consumers to ask companies to delete their personal data upon request, making proper records management critical. One way that firms can achieve this, according to the report, is by using automated tools to aid with data discovery.

According to the survey, while three-fourths (76%) of respondents plan to increase their privacy investments over the next year, companies without a clear privacy strategy could fail to reap the expected value from these investments — while those who create clear strategies and infuse a culture of privacy awareness across their organizations will differentiate themselves and build consumer trust.

Accenture also said that a new class of privacy risks related to data ethics will emerge due to the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning.