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Finance chiefs have mixed feelings about automation

As technology continues to make enormous changes to business structures across the world, many sectors have grown wary of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. 

With many machines now capable of carrying out tasks previously only carried out by humans, it’s easy to see why businesses are concerned about the future and whether or not hardware will take over their roles. 

However, according to the New York Chapter of Financial Executives International, this is not the case for financial executives, with almost two-thirds of respondents saying they do not believe their jobs will be replaced by robots.

Some eight per cent of respondents said the change towards automation is occurring now or will happen in the next two to five years, whereas 34 per cent believe it will be over five years away and 58 per cent claim it will never happen.

Regarding which financial executive positions would be most likely to be taken over by technology, 19 per cent said directors or vice presidents of financial planning and analysis, 12 per cent opted for corporate controllers/chief accounting officers and ten per cent suggested tax directors. 

Matthew Cooley, the president of the New York City Chapter of FEI, said: “Our poll indicates that one out of ten persons has doubts about the longevity of senior financial positions -- at least as we know them -- in today's world of artificial intelligence, repetitive tasking and increasing automation.

“Presumably these executives will be working to restructure the role to emphasise functions that cannot be automated and to take advantage of free time that automation affords them.”

Research from Xero also looked into the potential impact of technology, finding that 83 per cent of accountants think understanding technology is just as important in their job as actual accountancy processes. 

Some 71 per cent of respondents said that knowledge of automation in the financial sector would be key to their success, while 48 per cent of professionals are taking internal courses to make sure they properly educated in the area. 

As well as this, 43 per cent of accountants believe skills risk analysis will be needed in order to prosper in the sector in the future due to changes in technology. 

Ultimately, technology is changing at a rapid pace and it is difficult to predict how accountancy will be affected. Professionals simply need to keep up to date with the latest trends and ensure they are properly prepared for change.​