The impact of AI on Finance and Accounting

what will be the impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning on finance and accounting jobs. How should the CFOs prepare?

Introduction

Companies are entering in the era of augmented work where people have never been more important. Still, many people wonder wow will AI impact finance and accounting.

Towards augmented jobs

For many companies, the reality of implementing AI in accounting is to augment human work with smart machines, rather than eliminating it through automation. Job augmentation consists in using Artificial Intelligence to help a worker make better decisions. For example, use AI to forecast a company budget, but leave the final decision to the finance managers, the business unit managers and of course the CFO. In a series of interviews conducted by Deloitte on Cognitive Technologies, most companies say that augmentation has so far been much more common than job elimination through automation. In addition, before deciding to jump into AI, companies may need to consider engaging in strategic workforce planning, upgrading the skills of their employees, and rethinking the design of processes and jobs holistically.

What about automation ?

A study by PwC estimated the proportion of existing jobs with high potential automation rates by the mid-2030s per sector. For the Finance and insurance sector, only around 2% could be fully automated, while a large proportion will be concerned by Human and AI-augmentation. A fundamental element to know is that the job elements being automated and replaced here are “tasks” and not “jobs”. It is important to stress that accountants will certainly be there, but the tasks they perform will change. Some of the repetitive accounting tasks on a daily basis will be progressively taken over by AI based solutions, allowing accountants more time to focus on developing insights and value-generating activities. From this point of view, AI is an opportunity for accountants to further develop their set of skills, especially in analytical directions. But this will not come without challenges and proper training opportunities.

How companies manage change

In order to put employees at the center of their approach to AI, General Electric, for example, has created a series of job “personas” including jobs that will largely be automated, jobs that will be substantially changed, and entirely new jobs that will be created—all specifically in reference to cognitive technology-driven change. These personas are beginning to be used to help current employees think about how their skills need to evolve in the future.

In every size of companies, CFOs are starting to think about how to prepare the workforce to the evolution of the finance and accounting industry.

How employees see change

On the side of workers, it looks like the impact of AI on work and working life quality can bring some appreciated benefits :

Towards better work ?

What we are witnessing now is that AI will encourage a gradual evolution in the job market that—with the right preparation—will be positive . People will still work, but they will work more efficiently with the help of AI. Not just in finance and accounting, but also in other industries and economies—especially those that involve repetitive tasks, we will see a proportion of the tasks evolve.

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