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Why this finance tech is transforming the finance manager role

What does the future hold for finance managers?

In this article we’re looking at the technologies making a major impact on the finance function, as well as some of the opportunities and threats posed by these new solutions. Specifically, we’re looking at:

  • Automation
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Hacking and phishing risks

Automation technologies

Automation technologies get simpler, more intuitive, and faster to implement with each passing week. This accelerating accessibility means that more finance teams are adopting automation to reduce manual labour, prevent errors, ensure compliance, and bring crucial management information to the right people at the right time.

“Around 80% of finance leaders have implemented or are planning to implement RPA.” – Gartner

Technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) are easy to program and relatively simple to manage, providing you have colleagues who are willing to learn and interested in expanding their career.

“We found that currently demonstrated technologies can fully automate 42 percent of finance activities and mostly automate a further 19 percent” – McKinsey

As well as willing team members, you need finance leaders who are prepared to adapt. Rob Binns at The Access Group warns: “You’ve got to have clear and robust business processes before you think about how you want to automate them and look at leveraging some of that technology”.

At Tate, we specialise in finding high-value individuals who can make an impact within your business, whether that means supporting the implementation of automation, or simply being prepared to embrace new technologies and reconsider the role of the finance professional.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence, when computers can effectively “think” for themselves, can be a powerful asset to your finance team. Before we consider how this might impact your role in the coming months, let’s list a few examples of how AI is used in finance:

  • Risk assessments and credit decisions
  • Data processing (such as harvesting data from invoices)
  • Eliminating bias and errors in decision making
  • Completing long and complex tasks
  • Enabling 24/7 working

What does this mean for your role?

It might mean changes to the way you work, including:

Managing technology integration projects: Before reaping the benefits of artificial intelligence, your organisation will need to select a suitable partner to carry out the implementation and support you and your colleagues as you weave AI into your processes.

Managing digital colleagues: Once your AI is up and running, you effectively have a new colleague who is thinking and acting on the behalf of your business. Their work must be monitored, managed and reviewed – something that may require new skills on your part.

Supporting colleagues through the transition: Much of the media narrative around AI and automation focuses on the idea that robots are coming for our jobs. The reality is that robots need supervision, and your finance team is unlikely to shrink significantly in the next few years. However, your colleagues may need support to help them take advantage of these new tools, and not feel alienated by the changes.

Phishing, hacking and data breaches

This is not a tech trend as such, but it is an unfortunate by-product of our increasing reliance on technology to run our businesses. The more we use tech to manage our data, transactions, processes and people, the more we create incentives for malicious actors, as well as weaknesses that they can exploit.

Alongside any adoption of technology, there must be a consideration of how the new tech prohibits, or enables, potential hackers. Digital security must remain a priority as tech is assessed and implemented, and security and fraud prevention must be continually promoted as vital components of the organisation’s safeguards. Because while software and hardware might be impervious to attack, your colleagues are far more susceptible to manipulation and social engineering.

HMRC reported a 73% increase in phishing attacks between March and September 2020. Invoice fraud is another huge problem for finance teams, with Alan Sheeley of Pinsent Masons stating that “[invoice hijacking] is becoming so common that it is now almost at an epidemic stage.”


Preparing for tomorrow

Powerful technology offers immense advantages, but it can also make your role more challenging. After all, technology may bring you more responsibilities, more challenges, and more opportunities for mistakes. And when your team is empowered by technology, your directors and stakeholders may expect more from your team, either in the form of information and insights, or in terms of speed and accuracy.

Are you prepared for this increasing attention on the finance function? And is your team ready to embrace technology to deliver the expected gains? If your team is looking to grow in the coming months, Tate can help you determine the ideal mix of skills required, and recruit hard-to-find talent.

View the Tate finance recruitment services page here.


 

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