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The robots are coming!

Will you – or your job – be replaced by an automaton?

November 2015

The robots are coming, and for many finance leaders ‘hiring’ robots to do the jobs of accountants will be the next step in delivering a more effective and efficient business, says a new report from the ACCA.
Co-author Jamie Lyon admits that robotics is an emotive subject, saying: “It’s high-tech and, most importantly, it is emblematic of what many see as the next natural step in evolution of business process delivery.” This means fewer people being employed in favour of intuitive, machine-based learning technologies. However, many finance leaders are not convinced about the benefits of wholesale automation of this type. “Many still can’t understand what it really means for finance,” said Lyon.
Advocates are claiming compelling numbers in support of robotics in finance, with a potential 50% reduction in future costs one of the headline figures. But, according to Lyon, there is considerable trepidation among CFOs on the issue, and rightly so. He stressed: “There needs to be far more clarity around the proposition for finance beyond headcount reduction. Yes, the numbers seem appealing, but finance directors are unclear about the hard benefits of robotics over and above its cost-efficiency when compared to employees.”
Deloittes’s recent report, ‘From brawn to brains: The impact of technology on jobs in the UK’, said the future will not present us with a binary choice – human or robot jobs. The reality is more nuanced, said London senior partner Angus Knolwes-Cutler. He said while there is no doubt that technology can indeed wholly automate certain routine manual tasks, other occupations benefit most from the partial integration of technology.
As we reported in our October issue, accountants appear to be the workers most concerned that robots will steal their jobs. The study by CV-library discovered that 35% of those working in accounting feel their job is threatened by technological advances in the industry. According to the stats, some 40% of accountants also feel that increased tech and connectivity is having a negative impact on their work-life balance.
BPP University Professor Tim Stewart’s inaugural lecture recently looked at the impact technology will have on future careers. He told PQ: “There will be an explosion of new automation and robotics over the next 10 to 15 years and a significant proportion of professional and managerial jobs will be at risk.”

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