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NextGen Magazine


More Than a Third of Finance Dept. Functions Already Automated, CFOs Aim for 45 Percent by 2021

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Sep 11, 2018

The robots aren't coming; they're already here. A recent poll of 700 finance leaders found that 34 percent of finance tasks at large global companies are already out of human hands, and the drive to automate seems to just be picking up, according to the Wall Street Journal. These same finance chiefs believe that this proportion will rise to 45 percent by 2021, and they want to eventually have about 80 percent of tasks automated. This includes activities such as processing transactions, accounting, controlling, compliance and reporting, as human workers already spend 60 to 70 percent of their time on these tasks. 

This poll echoes other surveys indicating that finance departments are enthusiastic about automating more tasks: 41 percent of finance executives in the United States and Europe say that their firms have an enterprise-wide automation strategy in place, with finance departments, not information technology, generally leading the way. This is part of a larger trend of companies seeking to automate their processes, such as Bank of America, which opened three entirely human-free branches. Fast-food giant McDonald's is also experimenting with franchise locations run entirely by machines, partially in response to increased labor pressure. Amazon, meanwhile, has been increasingly reliant on robots at its massive warehouses to replace human workers seen as less efficient. Outside traditional retail businesses, robo-advisers are set to control about 10 percent of assets under management by 2020, and a company called Distributed Autonomous Organization controls over $100 million in assets to make venture capital investments without any human staff at all: no CEO, no CFO, not even a mailroom. Meanwhile, it's estimated that 75 percent of market volume is taken up by automated trading.