Is a robot going to take your finance job?

Dharmesh Chheda, Head of ICAEW Academy of Professional Development, discusses why businesses should act now to ensure finance professionals are ready for the challenges and impact of digital transformation on the future of finance.

We are starting to feel the effects of Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning in our businesses, and most stories in the news are still concentrating on the expected number of job losses this might result in.

However, it’s time to embrace digital transformation and understand how it could radically change the capabilities of our finance function. Most agree that the day-to-day tasks of a professional working today will cease to exist in the next few years. RPA or what is widely known as Artificial Intelligence, has already demonstrated the potential to replicate even highly complex specialised tasks that once only humans were thought to be capable of.
What does this mean for finance professionals?

Adopting a mindset shift from traditional roles of scorekeepers and compliance gatekeepers to commercial business partners adding insights and predictions will be vital.
Future finance professionals will take on a much more prominent role in the daily commercial activities of the organisation, therefore shifting upwards towards communicator and business partner roles.

If disruptive technologies are to be viewed as beneficial to both businesses and the individual then the logical solution for the future professional would be to become familiar with, and embrace, the technology available to them.

Context will always remain key to driving businesses forward. Most AI products, at least currently, are only able to learn and ‘think’ within the confines of their design. That’s where the future finance professionals step in.

Employers need to invest in their finance professionals to develop new, non-traditional skillsets. They will need employees to be agile and adaptable enough to use their expertise to make sense of the large datasets and new information available to them and ultimately to move finance up the value chain.

Future-proofing the skills of your employees is the only way to keep them relevant in these times of uncertainty. Moreover, if the UK is to remain the largest exporter of financial and professional services in the world, then businesses will need to rapidly equip their finance professionals with skills, mindsets and behaviours to enable them to thrive in a digital landscape.

Here at the Academy of Professional Development, we are providing the context of the digital transformation to our profession. We have partnered with clients to design development programmes that develop the next generation of finance leaders, pioneers in a new world.