Robot Ai News Technology Advance Mat Shore 2070 Emergency Services Strong Rescue Robotics 688118
  • Publish Date: Posted over 5 years ago
  • Author:by Howard Bentwood

Does the rise of the robot signify a new frontier for finance?

Some of us of a certain age will recall the dark days of the 1980s when unemployment surged and workers were laid off from Britain’s heavy manufacturing industries. A lot of those jobs fell victim to new production techniques, which saw workers replaced with machines and robots. Car production lines of 2015 require a fraction of the human input of yesteryear such has been the advance of technology.Until now, white collar workers, especially those employed in senior finance roles, have sat pretty, confident that their expertise and education, had secured them from the fate of manual workers. But how much longer can they enjoy that security from the march of technology? Might the cousins of the friendly robots depicted in the picture above soon have the capability to move onto the territory of senior finance directors and CFO’s as sophisticated software leads to huge advances in finance automation?Rohan Silva thinks so. Writing in the Daily Telegraph he explained that the jobs under threat include those in sectors such as accounting and auditing, where employees might eventually be, “replaced by machines that can do the same tasks much more cheaply and effectively than human workers.”It might be all too tempting to shrug this off as scaremongering or wishful thinking from the perspective of employers. But take a moment to consider the advances of the last 20 years. Hand written ledgers and bookkeeping have given way to calculators, ever more sophisticated spreadsheets, and forecasting programmes. Transactional level finance has already evolved and is now mostly fully automated, improving efficiency and reducing the need for staff. Innovations such as e-invoicing and financial modeling automation are already commonplace in many UK businesses.Is it a too great a leap to imagine that artificial intelligence could advance beyond simply predicting trends to identifying the underlying needs of businesses and putting into effect the changes that those needs dictate?If it’s not too great a leap then many in senior finance roles and indeed senior finance recruitment specialists like Cedar should be very aware of the significant impact this would cause.So can a computer really perform the role of analysing and interpreting data and its impact on the business better than an experienced senior finance person? Can artificial intelligence make the key decisions that matter to the business? Can you really imagine a computer challenging a manager’s budget or forecast? It conjures up the famous scene from Little Britain when David Walliams plays a jobsworth who types questions into a keyboard only to always come back with the same refrain “computer says no!”Of course a computer programme drawing on the right algorithms could pass or fail a budget but it would never possess the sophistication or the humanity to be able to deliver that determination in a manner that doesn’t crush the life out of a manger who has invested huge amounts of time and effort in producing their forecast. The truth is that there is no substitute for personal interaction and emotional intelligence. The ability to influence, challenge and push back are the key personality traits for successful senior finance leaders and no robot can simulate that.  The computer will never be able to deliver bad news and then take the recipient of that bad news out for drink to demonstrate that there are no hard feelings and inspire them to do better for the company.So, can the whole finance function be automated? In a word, no. Yes, the transactional and technical side of finance can and have been automated but finance has moved forward and a long way from just bean-counting. Finance is an integral part of the businesses and is the driving force behind all strategic decisions.  Finance is an art, not a science and this bodes well for senior finance staff, CFO’s and Finance Director’s and of course senior finance recruiters such as ourselves.

Share this Article
Back to Blogs
Some of us of a certain age will recall the dark days of the 1980s when unemployment surged and workers were laid off from Britain’s heavy manufacturing industries. A lot of those jobs fell victim to new production techniques, which saw workers replaced with machines and robots. Car production lines of 2015 require a fraction of the human input of yesteryear such has been the advance of technology.Until now, white collar workers, especially those employed in senior finance roles, have sat pretty, confident that their expertise and education, had secured them from the fate of manual workers. But how much longer can they enjoy that security from the march of technology? Might the cousins of the friendly robots depicted in the picture above soon have the capability to move onto the territory of senior finance directors and CFO’s as sophisticated software leads to huge advances in finance automation?Rohan Silva thinks so. Writing in the Daily Telegraph he explained that the jobs under threat include those in sectors such as accounting and auditing, where employees might eventually be, “replaced by machines that can do the same tasks much more cheaply and effectively than human workers.”It might be all too tempting to shrug this off as scaremongering or wishful thinking from the perspective of employers. But take a moment to consider the advances of the last 20 years. Hand written ledgers and bookkeeping have given way to calculators, ever more sophisticated spreadsheets, and forecasting programmes. Transactional level finance has already evolved and is now mostly fully automated, improving efficiency and reducing the need for staff. Innovations such as e-invoicing and financial modeling automation are already commonplace in many UK businesses.Is it a too great a leap to imagine that artificial intelligence could advance beyond simply predicting trends to identifying the underlying needs of businesses and putting into effect the changes that those needs dictate?If it’s not too great a leap then many in senior finance roles and indeed senior finance recruitment specialists like Cedar should be very aware of the significant impact this would cause.So can a computer really perform the role of analysing and interpreting data and its impact on the business better than an experienced senior finance person? Can artificial intelligence make the key decisions that matter to the business? Can you really imagine a computer challenging a manager’s budget or forecast? It conjures up the famous scene from Little Britain when David Walliams plays a jobsworth who types questions into a keyboard only to always come back with the same refrain “computer says no!”Of course a computer programme drawing on the right algorithms could pass or fail a budget but it would never possess the sophistication or the humanity to be able to deliver that determination in a manner that doesn’t crush the life out of a manger who has invested huge amounts of time and effort in producing their forecast. The truth is that there is no substitute for personal interaction and emotional intelligence. The ability to influence, challenge and push back are the key personality traits for successful senior finance leaders and no robot can simulate that.  The computer will never be able to deliver bad news and then take the recipient of that bad news out for drink to demonstrate that there are no hard feelings and inspire them to do better for the company.So, can the whole finance function be automated? In a word, no. Yes, the transactional and technical side of finance can and have been automated but finance has moved forward and a long way from just bean-counting. Finance is an integral part of the businesses and is the driving force behind all strategic decisions.  Finance is an art, not a science and this bodes well for senior finance staff, CFO’s and Finance Director’s and of course senior finance recruiters such as ourselves.

Latest Blogs

View All Blogs
Screen Shot 2018 07 12 At 3
What it takes to be a successful PE portfolio company CEO

​Whilst there is not a one size fits all solution for what we see in successful PE portfolio company CEO’s we are able to see some clear trends when it comes this. Below we have attempted to answer...

Image 790ea9f990
How to Make Your CV Stand Out

Looking for your next finance role? The first step is getting your CV right. With such a small window in which to impress recruiters, it’s vital that you’re able to make your CV stand out from the ...

Cover Wave 1200x628
A new wave of Executive Search

​Cedar Recruitment is, as we’re sure you know, a well-established, highly successful recruitment business. Our reputation was initially built on our expertise in accountancy and financial services...

Image 70a5eb1f6f
Public Practice Priorities for the year(s) ahead

Just over a year ago, we were starting to learn about a strange illness that was causing people to die in a number of countries - China, Italy and then, in small numbers at first, the UK. If you Go...

Picture1
How Covid-19 has changed company cultures.

​We are coming up to 12 months of working from home and company culture is one of the biggest things that has changed in our working environment.From a recruitment perspective, one of the most comm...

Image C3446935a3
Temperature Check – Recruitment in 2021

As we close on 2020, supposedly the year of clarity (20/20 vision) what do our Consultants see the future holding.Despite the threat of a 2nd mutated strain arriving at our shores and the likelihoo...

Scrooge
"I don’t make merry myself at Christmas" [sic]

​Scrooge was a much-misunderstood man. That thought may be behind the statement by Julien Lenglet, Head of the Antony Hospital in Paris, who believes that festive celebrations could lead to a surge...

Image 67889e23f0
All Change: pandemic winners and losers

This has been a truly extraordinary year for businesses. For the recruitment industry as much as any other, Covid-19 has been more devastating than anything in living memory. Over 500 million jobs ...

Recovery
4 successful strategies for securing talent during the global recovery

Over the last five months, organisations across the globe have made extraordinary changes in their working practices in response to COVID 19 and Talent Acquisition has been no exception. Whilst man...

Image 39dd5aed8f
Baby birds, jobs data and the future of recruitment…

Like baby birds in a nest, the different sectors of the economy are straining to be fed, their mouths open and begging the Chancellor to attend to their needs first. However, nature, as we know, is...

Image Cb9c7c2608
Procurement – at the heart of the crisis and the centre of the recovery

Public sector, especially NHS, procurement has been at the centre of the coronavirus crisis, perhaps for the first time bringing the general public an awareness of what procurement itself is all ab...

960x0
3 reasons why recruiters were ready for remote working

Covid-19 has been the catalyst for unprecedented global measures and changes to keep the world safe and healthy during very turbulent times. As part of this, the vast majority of the UK workforce w...

Image 0b645fdf84
10 tips to manage a remote team

​Here's my top tips on managing a team during the current crisis.I’ll start off by saying, it probably boils down to one golden rule, but as the internet loves a list let’s park that and I’ll let y...