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Gen Zers in finance trust robots more than their colleagues

June 1, 2021, 9:00 AM UTC

Good morning,

Many Gen Zers and Millennials who use artificial intelligence in their personal lives are starting jobs where they manage finances using spreadsheets, and they’re left thinking “what in the world is going on?” Kimberly N. Ellison-Taylor, founder and CEO of the consulting firm KET Solutions, LLC, told me. 

Today, Oracle releases new generational findings from its Money & Machines survey. The next generation of finance leaders say they want robots, not humans, to assist with finance tasks. Ellison-Taylor, an advisor on the report, previously served in global leadership roles at Oracle for almost 17 years where she advised C-suite executives on cloud solutions to transform their businesses. 

Kimberly N. Ellison-Taylor

97% of Gen Z employees said that managing their organization’s finances really scares them,” Ellison-Taylor says, based on a global survey of more than more than 9,000 consumers and business leaders conducted by Oracle and finance expert Farnoosh Torabi. “We can’t blame them when you consider that we’re in a time of such great uncertainty. And 52% said they were losing sleep at night thinking about the budget.”

Robots (meaning a digital interface that you can converse with), an algorithm, or machine learning and A.I. are all highly desired by Gen Zers — 91% said they would trust a robot to manage their organization’s finances. About 83% of Millennials and 79% of Gen Z employees said they would trust a robot over their own organization’s finance team.

Ellison-Taylor’s career has been at the intersection of finance and technology. She’s a CPA with a master’s degree in IT management from Carnegie Mellon University. She also previously held leadership roles at KPMG, Motorola, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. If CFOs communicate effectively, that can help alleviate the fears of young professionals, Ellison-Taylor says. 

Being transparent about the company’s outlook, asking young professionals for their input, and allowing them to help build the finance strategy, coupled with the use of technology, can address anxiety, Ellison-Taylor says.

In all, 95%, of Gen Z employees surveyed said organizations that don’t embrace technology will face risks, including: falling behind competitors (51%); inadequate decision making (45%); and more stressed employees (41%). Oracle’s report also found that Millennial employees are nearly four times more likely than Baby Boomers to want to work for a company using A.I. to manage finance.

But some argue that if young finance professionals are too tech dependent, they won’t develop the basic fundamental skills needed in the field. I asked Ellison-Taylor her opinion.

“I 100% do believe that the technology will assist with onboarding and will assist with the basic information to go to higher-level interactions with customers,” she says. “But I also think the university systems and their certificates will also help supplement some of that core knowledge [for young professionals].”

She continues, “Years ago, we were outsourcing some of these basic functions. We now have the ability to bring back some of those functions that were outsourced by leveraging technology.” Young professionals can then use the skill sets they learned in school, “and a lot of it is around emerging technologies, like A.I.,” she says.

“If I were an organization that wanted to drill down on A.I. and machine learning, that’s when I would put my foot to the pedal on diversity,” Ellison-Taylor says. “If machine learning is basically the repeated transactions that A.I. is learning over time such that it becomes predictive, and can anticipate our next best action, or next best decision point, we need as many diverse people as possible to help the machine learn.”


See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

Big deal

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Going deeper

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Leaderboard

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Overheard

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