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Industry roundup: 7 August 2020

72% of finance organisations spend up to 520 hours per year on manual AP tasks

A survey from research firm Censuswide and Tipalti, a global payables automation platform, has found that over seven in ten finance teams (72%) spend up to 10 people-hours per week, or 520 hours per year on tasks related to accounts payable (AP) that could be automated, such as invoice processing, supplier inquiries, supplier payments execution, PO matching, new supplier registration, and payment reconciliation. 

Additionally, more than a quarter (28%) of respondents said their teams dedicate up to 20 hours a week on AP tasks, amounting to possibly 1,040 hours annually. Unfortunately, only 4% of CFOs said their teams spend fewer than 12 hours on these tasks per month.

Amid COVID-19, 75% of CFOs said their finance teams have been able to fully function and complete all processes on time while working remotely but only after making significant changes. Just 14% of finance teams were ready to work from home without making changes to existing processes. 

Among the CFOs who have automated some or all of their finance processes, 47% saw an improvement in the customer experience, and more than 40% benefited from providing an improved supplier experience. Some 37% reported a reduction in their level risk (fraud, audits compliance, etc.), 34% experienced better visibility and faster financial reporting, and 29% said automation improved morale. Finally, 17% of respondents have already successfully moved team members into more strategic roles within the organisation, likely thanks to the elimination of manual, repetitive tasks. 

When asked about the anxiety around the automation of processes, 98% of CFO respondents had some concerns among their finance team about automation on their finance operations about the with the majority (77%) of respondents saying their teams are concerned about not having the right skills to manage increased automation, and more than half (57%) are worried that automated solutions could replace their jobs. However, 62% of CFOs stated they plan to switch the focus of their employees that currently handle manual finance tasks to higher-value work. If there is full elimination of a job due to automation, 77% of respondents said they plan to transfer those workers to a different department, and 50% of respondents said they would retrain their team members to develop new skills.


Standard Chartered partners with Truera to tackle unjust bias in AI-assisted decision making

Standard Chartered has partnered with Truera, a US based startup, to use their model intelligence platform to improve model quality and increase trust by analysing models and helping to identify and eliminate unjust biases in the decision-making process.

Machine learning, which makes it quicker and easier to analyse large amounts of data and identify patterns and trends, leads to better performance and risk management when used correctly. However, because machine learning models are built using complex automated algorithms, they can act like a black box where it is often challenging for data scientists to explain in detail how decisions are made, and validation of a model’s effectiveness can take longer.

Mindful to ensure that data is used ethically, and with a vision to scale up their use of machine learning for core credit decisioning across multiple markets, Standard Chartered presented a challenge to the Truera team, to help create a solution that gives greater insight into the machine learning decision making process, including being able to identify, and therefore mitigate, unjust bias.

A first for the bank, the isolution that has been developed works across multiple machine learning platforms and is able to pinpoint the specific variables that influence risk scoring. It also has the ability to look for correlations between seemingly impartial variables that can act as proxies for demographic indicators such as race or gender, which could lead to the introduction of unjust bias resulting in unfair decisions. Standard Chartered says it will now work with Truera to further develop the software and explore its application across a range of AI use cases.


Refinitiv adds ESG and NGO data to its enhanced due diligence reports 

Refinitiv has announced it is expanding the scope of its Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) reports with the inclusion of NGO sourced data from Sigwatch, a UK-based provider of global NGO and ESG issue tracking and reputational impact data. The agreement enables Refinitiv customers to vet companies and investments against a reliable and unique source of alternative data on reputational and governance risk.

The EDD reports from Refinitiv provide detailed background checks on companies and investors that require a higher level of scrutiny. The reports support compliance teams as they look to meet their regulatory obligations, optimise the due diligence process and protect company reputation.

Data from Sigwatch shows NGOs are regularly taking corporates to task on ESG-related issues:

  • According to Sigwatch there have been almost 11,000 ESG-related NGO actions since January 2019, nearly 1,300 of these have been against the financial services sector.
  • The collaboration enables Refinitiv to offer insight into NGO campaigns affecting more than 19,000 companies, brands and projects, plus details on more than 80,000 campaign actions and up to 40 new campaigns reported daily.

The data is particularly useful when assessing global supply chain risk, or when entering into higher-risk transactions such as IPOs and mergers and acquisitions. Reputational impact data is valuable to investors, banks and corporates as they increasingly look to use environmental, social and governance factors to decide where to allocate capital, the value they place on a company and how they manage risk.

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