What do UK CFOs really think about automation of finance?

19 June 2019


MHR Analytics’ CFO roundtable breakfast reveals decisive move away from manual systems

Leading strategic thinkers from across the finance sector gathered for the ‘Automation in Finance’ CFO Roundtable Breakfast event yesterday, to explore the different approaches to digital transformation in the industry.

The session at Quaglino’s in London’s St James’ Hotel, centred on four themes:

1. Automation of planning. Guests discussed the potential advantages and challenges of breaking away from spreadsheet-based systems to solutions that incorporate machine learning, big data analysis and predictive modelling capabilities.

Organisations still using manual systems were finding this time consuming, while those who had already made the leap to automated systems and business intelligence platforms were seeing clear benefits with increased accuracy and reduced admin.

Comments from CFOs around the table included:

“Having agility in your planning process is very important, being prepared for any change in direction and being aware that nothing is set in stone.”

"One of the barriers I’ve found with the automation of planning is Business Literacy, stakeholders refusing to buy-in to change and the future because they don’t understand it.”

 

“No longer are we just accountants, we are increasingly having to understand financial planning and automated processes.”

2. Brexit: a proactive and agile approach. Guests discussed the potential and possibilities for testing ‘what if’ scenarios without causing a significant drain on resource. The group debated options for the automation of modelling, monitoring and gaining insight into predicted changes.

“Uncertainty means you have to have the capability to prepare for a number of different what-if scenarios,” commented one guest. 

3. ROI of automation. What exactly is the return of automating areas of the finance division and how can we measure this? How can we create a more engaged workforce of finance professionals by moving away from data collection as a key priority?

“Through automation the ROI equals happier employees,” commented on guest. “Suppliers are more tuned in, and engagement and processes run smoother.”

“There are decisions that need to be made that are time critical, and that’s where the biggest ROI through automation really comes in,” commented MHR Analytics’ Finance Director Mark Jenkins.

4. Automation of regulatory reporting. Delegates discussed their experiences of automating the reporting and consolidation processes. While some were still using manual processes, the group agreed the clear benefits of automation, including cutting down their data collection and calculation time, and freeing up resources for better analysis of core numbers.

MHR Analytics

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