Finance jobs to increase under automation

Thursday, 10 August, 2017

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New research commissioned by recruitment firm Robert Half shows that more jobs are expected to be created than replaced by automation.

While several functions within finance departments are already automated or are expected to be automated within the next three years, almost half (46%) of Australian CFOs are planning to expand their permanent financial headcount to help implement their company’s automation efforts over the next 12 months.

Further to this, more than one in three (36%) are planning to create new roles for temporary or contract professionals over the next year.

In terms of job loss, the majority (86%) of CFOs agree workplace automation does not imply a reduction in finance employees in their team, but rather, it requires a shift in the necessary skills.

More specifically, the top skills finance professionals need to focus on as a result of automation are problem-solving skills (56%), strategic vision (46%), commercial acumen (44%) and communication (37%).

According to the research, some of the finance functions that are either already automated or likely to be disrupted within three years include data collection (88%), invoicing (85%), financial report generation (84%), data entry (77%) and credit management (77%).

“Increased automation within Australian workplaces is not about destroying jobs, but rather, adapting to change — which in turn leads to new opportunities,” said David Jones, senior managing director of Robert Half Asia Pacific.

“The modern-day business demands diverse skillsets, resources and assets which will equip companies to be able to respond quickly and flexibly to challenges like automation and digitisation.

“Not only will companies need to bring in additional expertise to lead this change, they will also need to focus on staff training to ensure their workforces have the adequate skills to leverage the benefits brought by existing and future technology.”

Jones said that finance professionals will need to develop skills that complement and leverage the capabilities of automation, rather than simply hand over control. More advanced technology requires additional, well-developed skills, such as advanced data analysis, interpretation skills and decision-making skills.

“While automation may diminish some routine manual roles, it will lead to faster decision-making, reduce the risk of errors and eliminate stresses associated with laborious task-management responsibilities,” he said.

“These benefits are available to those companies who embrace workplace automation rather than resist it.”

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