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Can robots free up CFOs to be big-picture thinkers?

April 15, 2021, 9:00 AM UTC

Good morning,

Most CFOs are dealing with the deluge of data. A robot that won’t be late to work may be their best ally. 

“Typically, I think we just find that algorithms, or a robot in its most accurate form, are very reliable, right? They never have a bad day. They are available 24-7. They are helping you with a decision.”

That’s what Juergen Lindner, senior vice president of marketing for SaaS at Oracle, told me in a recent chat about the tech company’s latest “Money and Machines: 2021 Global Study.” Robot refers to any form of intelligence in a digital interface that you can converse with, an algorithm, or AI and machine learning, Lindner says.  

The overwhelming majority (85%) of business leaders surveyed by Oracle said they want help from a robot for finance tasks. The top four requests: approvals (43%); budgeting and forecasting (39%); reporting (38%); compliance and risk management (38%). The data is based on a survey of over 9,000 consumers and business leaders across 14 countries.

Both consumers and business leaders are “at a tipping point” where they think it’s not a matter of if, but rather how quickly, “we will see a massive endorsement of robots shifting and managing money related type of tasks,” Lindner tells me. 

He continues, “So what does that mean for finance professionals? We do think very strongly that the role description will change.” But don’t fret just yet that your job is in jeopardy. There isn’t an algorithm for empathy.

“We still do not believe that there is an algorithm that can replace the interpersonal relationship, and the absolute final critical decision making for mission critical tasks” that finance professionals can provide, Lindner tells me. 

Real people are still preferred when it comes to interpersonal tasks like communicating with customers (40%); negotiating discounts (37%); and approving transactions (31%), the report found. 

In fact, leaning into AI, robots, and machine learning may open avenues for financial leaders and professionals to go deeper into other areas they care about, Lindner said. 

CFOs have their hands in every part of an organization; they know what’s happening on the customer side, in the supply chain, and employee matters, he told me. “If you have time to really be more analytical, more strategic and work with the business versus working on fairly predictable, repetitive tasks … a lot of career progression will come out of it,” Lindner said. 

“We actually see a differentiation already when we query Millennial employees versus Baby Boomers, that Millennial employees are four times more likely to actually want to work for companies that actively deploy AI,” Lindner says. 


See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

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The role of CFOs within an organization has never been more important. Fortune is building a community for CFO leaders to engage with and learn from colleagues across industries. In partnership with Workday, our CFO Collaborative quarterly event series will focus on the evolving CFO role. Our first conversation will take place May 11 and address “The Critical Role of the CFO in the Post-pandemic World.” We will be joined by Adena Friedman, president and CEO, Nasdaq and Allen Parker, CFO, Zillow. This is the moment for CFOs. Click here to apply to attend.

Big deal

A new quantitative study released by Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., a global fintech company, provides data and the observations of investors who buy mutual funds, ETFs and equities through financial intermediaries. "We are all witnessing an unprecedented and accelerated democratization of U.S. investing," Broadridge's Investor Communication Solutions President Bob Schifellite said in the announcement. "The signs are undeniable as younger investors, particularly Millennials, grew as a percentage of investors studied from 9% to 14% during this period."

Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc.

Going deeper

The long-term growth strategies of many CFOs include international expansion. A new global survey by CFO Research of Industry Dive and Globalization Partners found that 85% of CFO respondents desire to tap into a more cost-effective, global talent pool. About 81% of respondents said the coronavirus pandemic "transformed how they consider remote employees and the work-from-anywhere model," according to the report.

Leaderboard

Greg Covino is stepping down as CFO at Novavax, Inc. Covino is leaving his position as CFO for “personal reasons and will remain with the company as an executive adviser,” the company said in an announcement. John J. Trizzino, executive vice president, chief commercial officer and chief business officer, “will assume the CFO role on an interim basis while a search is under way for Mr. Covino's replacement,” Novavax said.

Brian Hoff was appointed CFO at Auddia Inc. Hoff succeeds Rick Liebman, who will remain with the company in a transition capacity through April 30.

Overheard

"Let me emphasize, once again, that a digital euro would not mean the end of cash. It would complement cash, not replace it."

— Fabio Panetta, member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank (ECB), in a speech to the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament on a report detailing the outcome of the ECB’s public consultation on a digital euro.