The future is here. The advance of technology is constantly accelerating, and new and more efficient ways to do the things that need to be done are invented daily. Automation isn’t anything new, people have been fearing for their jobs since the implementation of farming equipment and factories, but with the digitalization of money, accounting and financial jobs are becoming more automatable. I’m going to explore this trend in this blog post.
Online banking is quickly becoming the norm, with some banks even closing branches and encouraging the use of their online services in an effort to cut costs. Most B2B transactions these days are carried out via electrical invoices, and modern accounting software streamlines a lot of the financial processes of a company. All of bookkeeping is computerized, and finance as an industry has remarkably many jobs at high risk of automation, due to the industry being built on processing information – the stuff of digitalization.
More and more manual processes in the financial industry will be replaced by automation in the future. Especially simple entry-level positions like data entry will be completely automated. The lack of entry-level jobs will make the careers of new graduates challenging, since it’s harder to get the experience required for more advanced positions with less jobs available. But simple, laborious processes are already being outsourced, and there’s no way to stop the tide of automation. So what’s the solution, how will new graduates find their place in the evolving industry?
Well, the narrative of ‘robots replacing people’ is disingenuous. More efficient people with understanding of emerging technologies are replacing people, just as they have before. The streamlining and automation of processes frees up resources and reduces a company’s overhead, making expansion of the business possible. The reduction in low-skill, entry-level positions only means that new entrants to the industry, and the institutions educating these new entrants, need to adapt to the changes in the industry.
People entering the industry will need to acquire unique, non-automatable skills that are in demand, like language and people skills or programming experience. Educational institutions should also incorporate computer sciences into their curriculums, teaching the experts of tomorrow the ins and outs of emerging technologies. Programming is very likely to be one of the main ways of getting things done in the future, and it really needs to be something most future professionals are at least familiar and comfortable with.
But in the end, the investing environment isn’t something automatable. Of course much of the menial labor in analysis will be taken over by automated processes, but investing is people playing against people. It isn’t a hard, rules-based environment that favors AI, it’s based on trust, human relationships, connections and interactions. So while a lot of jobs will be replaced by scripts and programs, there will always be opportunities for sharp people, ready to apply themselves.
Lahti, Sanna & Salminen, Tero 2014. Digitaalinen Taloushallinto. Sanoma Pro Oy, Helsinki