HERE'S a scenario.
Ms Tan is the Billing Manager who is responsible to ensure invoices are issued on time and accurately to customers. On a daily basis, she will spend the morning retrieving sales orders from the marketing team and upload the information into the financial system in order to generate the invoices.
She is dubbed as “the finance person who have a great eye for details”. Often, last minute changes are being requested and she will have to manually perform the updates too.
And she has been doing the exact same role for 15 years.
Does this sound familiar to your organisation? Where the finance folks are seen as the trusted back room support who could ensure accuracy and timeliness of processes. In most organisations, the finance team is also hardly seen as value added business partner. Demands of the Future
How then, can the finance team prepare itself to support their organisations in the wake of IR 4.0 where technology is fast taking over business processes.
The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report 2018 indicated that three of the top 10 declining professions are related to Finance and Accounting (Accountants and Auditors included). In the same breath, within the top 10 emerging professions, there are Digital Managers and Artificial Intelligence, plus Machine learning specialists.
What this is telling us is that there needs to be a complete overhaul in the skillset required from finance practitioners to remain relevant in their organisations.
We, the Finance talent in Malaysia need to upskill ourselves - real fast. Complacency is no longer an option. And this does not apply only to top finance talents such as CFOs or Head of Functions. It applies across the board, across all levels and especially at the transactional level of finance such as the example provided above.
With the rise in Robotics Process Automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence within business and Finance processes, many of the transactional tasks are automated. The job requirement has shifted from doing to “managing”- either other humans or robots.
How can our Malaysian Finance talent make the turn to fulfil these new roles? Future Fit Attributes
Firstly, be open and know what others are doing. There is a need to sometimes take a step back from what we are doing day to day, to participate in industry events to understand what your counterparts are doing. The Global Business Services organisations in Malaysia (which are global hubs of mostly Fortune 500 organisations) are pushing the frontier in adopting IR4.0 in their Finance, HR, Procurement and IT processes. Theirs is a great source for learning.
There should be more “hunger” and sense of urgency to learn new skills. It is no longer about producing the data, or invoices. The future tasks involve interpreting the data ( such as various credit terms accorded to different customers) and in resolving anomalies identified by the robots. It is a higher level skillset but not insurmountable. With the right attitude and guidance, this can be achieved across the different levels of a finance team.
In the future, Ms Tan will walk in to work everyday (or through remote access!), push a button and start analysing which pricing do not match the sales packages. With the list of unmatched items, she will have a discussion with the marketing team to resolve the issues.
She will then put through the relevant changes in the system, and all of the above processes can be completed under two hours. She then proceed to analyse volume and turnover trend and produces the daily sales report for the Marketing Director. Sounds value adding?
This is our Finance talent of the future, and towards that we must strive.
*Joon Teoh CEO of AGOS Asia, a company pecialising in Finance, Procurement and HR transformation and trying its utmost to ensure Finance and Accounting is an emerging career of the future.
**** The views expressed here are strictly of the author's and do not necessarily reflect Astro AWANI's.