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How to Futureproof your Finance Profession with the Rise of AI

Written by: Evie Courtier
Published on: 13 Oct 2023

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‘Is AI coming for my job?’ - We've all heard the rumours that it’s the highly skilled jobs such as finance, and law that are the most exposed and vulnerable to AI-driven automation. The ‘Generative AI’ buzzword continues to infiltrate the conversation of job stability on both employer, and employee level, with certain automation tools like Chat GPT entering businesses from the top down. With companies rethinking the way they operate, a recent Goldman Sachs report announcing that AI could replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs, and workplace habits being steadily influenced by new AI technology, where do we stand in the finance and accountancy world?

How is AI viewed in the workplace?

The OECD Employment Outlook report, focusing on ‘Artificial Intelligence and the Labour Market’, denotes that the development of AI, with its outstandingly quick chat bots, leaves ‘occupations in finance…and legal activities which often require many years of education, and whose core functions rely on accumulated experience to reach decisions…suddenly at risk of automation from AI’.

Unlike prior technological innovations, AI can automate non-routine tasks. Yet, as Generative AI continues to develop in finesse and ability, with information ordering, memorisation, perceptual speed, and deductive reasoning progressing at a brisk pace, finance professionals are left with the concern that AI will also impact the tasks that rely on their cognitive and bespoke ability.

According to Hays, 36% of employers in the banking and financial services industry expect the sector to be impacted by AI, with 58% stating that we should embrace it within the workplace. The pitched benefits come down to cost savings, process efficiencies, reduced standardised work, consistency, and improved productivity. Impacting automation, intelligence, and creation, the finance world is left with a changing nature of work from the perk of increased efficiency and job creation, to the looming reality of potential redundancy.

As we stand, four out of five organisations aren’t using AI tools according to Hays, yet the majority expect to do so in the forthcoming years. The adoption is relatively slow, with many firms preferring to rely on voluntary workforce adjustments. As stated within the OECD report, large companies and firms are more likely to adapt to AI in the first-instance. This is supported by research conducted by the World Economic Forum, revealing that 56% of banks have implemented AI into their business domains, from management to revenue generation, leaving us to assess the new wave of AI, with its juxtaposed opportunities and challenges.

Is my profession under threat?

As a reminder, AI refers to the development of computer systems capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. Automation, language processing, and machine learning are rendering certain tasks more efficient than those completed by the human hand. Whilst it may seem intimidating, it’s welcome to note that AI is designed to augment our working capabilities, and not replace them in their entirety. Understanding the ways AI will impact your profession, will help you adapt and carve a niche in the emerging AI landscape.

As Roddy Adair, Director at Hays, comments: “rather than being treated as a threat to job security, AI could be seen as an exciting opportunity to add greater value to organisations. For instance, the automation of certain tasks could allow professionals to spend more time on high value tasks and invest in improving their skill sets to future proof their careers”.

Vulnerability doesn't equate to immediate obsolescence; instead, it results in the chance for upskilling and professional development. For finance professionals, AI could increase automation, support intelligent analysis and decision-making, and in-turn result in the creation of new business models and sectors.

How can you futureproof your profession?

When choosing to adopt new technologies, change is inevitable, however as an employee it’s easy to feel ill-equipped in terms of your skillset and confidence in approaching AI tools. A certified way of futureproofing your employability, is to embrace change, communicate, and upskill yourself.

Embrace change:

An open mindset when navigating the changing financial landscape will help in your adoption of new structures and processes. Asking the questions you need to understand the changes taking place, and reframing your thinking around the challenges of AI will help in the adjustment of new technologies.

Communicate with your employer:

If you harbour concerns about the potential effects of AI on your job role, engaging in a conversation with your manager may help provide some clarity. It’s also an opportunity to discuss how you believe AI can be of benefit to your role, demonstrating a proactive approach.

Upgrade your skill set:

Currently, 89% of those in Banking and Financial services feel inept of the skills required to use AI. Upgrading your calibre of skills will stand you in good stead for future employability, and help you in the long run, to adjust to the world of AI. Whether it’s by utilising company-approved AI tools across your workload, raising awareness and supporting AI, developing a culture that is open to change, conducting AI training programmes, or trialling different AI models in your spare time.

Identify your transferable skills:

In the face of technological disruptions, it’s good to remind yourself of the multitude of transferable and soft skills you have in your skill set. These are the skills that make you adaptable to change, and whilst technical expertise brings value, it’s the soft skills that make us indispensable within a team. Problem-solving, exceptional communication, the ability to adopt change, and an aptitude for learning new skills and adaptability, are all skills found within financial professions. They are also the skills that enable you to navigate challenges, collaborate effectively, and be open to learning new techniques.

Over time, the demand for finance professionals with acute skills in AI technologies, both on a technical and application level, will come to the forefront. There will also be increased demand for individuals with creative talent, complex problem-solving skills, communication, logic and creation.

Having confidence in your ability to conduct an ever-changing role is the foundation to overcoming AI anxiety. AI-driven tools will enable finance professionals to navigate the transition to the world of AI seamlessly. By embracing a new mindset, having a curiosity to learn, and accepting the new technologies coming our way, those working within the finance landscape, should feel safeguarded within their role.


 

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