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Is your corporate treasury middle management job safe? Can a robot do your job?

In April 2017, the Financial Times published an article Can a robot do you job? Find out how much of your job can technically be automated, which has profound implications for the future of the corporate treasury department. Replace the word ‘Robot’ with automation and/or technology, and read on.

Job analysis calculator

Using an interactive calculator, based on data from the McKinsey Global Institute, it gives an indication of how the future of work will change. Using corporate treasury as an example:

  • What Job category? Our answer: Business and finance
  • What Occupation? Our answer: Finance Specialists. The calculator reminds the reader that already 20 of 93 activities could already be done by a robot:
      • Source & Copyright©2017 - Financial Times 
  • Next the calculator asks:
    • Source & Copyright©2017 - Financial Times 
  • Then the killer question: How robot-proof is your job?
    • Source & Copyright©2017 - Financial Times 

The key questions

One common finding in all the research on work automation/robotics is that the impact on the work force is that it reduces middle management. As Tim Harford from the FT puts it, “But there are also signs that new technologies have polarised the labour market, with more demand for both the high-end skills and the low-end ones, and a hollowing out in the middle.”

Other analysts point out that a task based analysis analaysis of labour and automation shows that the best combination is humans and computers working together. Computers handle the “routine, codifiable tasks” amplifying humans abilities to carryout problem solving and be creative.

This is what is happening in the corporate treasury department today, but in the long term what happens when all the algorithms are built, and everything has been automated? Will it remove the need for middle managers? Will Assistant Treasurer posts disappear? Will there just be a corporate treasurer and junior administrative staff in a corporate treasury department? 

This is unlikely to happen because of the need, just like in computers, for backup to ensure continuity. So there will have to be Assistant Treasurers, but middle management posts in the corporate treasury department will continue to decline.

As automation gathers pace, the key question will become: What is the minimum number of staff in a corporate treasury department that ensures continuity?


CTMfile take:  If you carryout a task based analysis of your job in corporate treasury, “How many the tasks will be automated?”


This item appears in the following sections:
Operations
Best Practices & Benchmarking in Operations
Operational Risk Management
Outsourcing Cash & Treasury Management Operations

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Comments

By Paul Bramwell on 10th Jul 2017:

Interesting article Jack.  Another question worth pondering is what happens when the robot screws up.  Are robot scripts/tasks simply macros with the responsibility on the author of those scripts and if the person writing the scripts completes the task and is let go, who manages and maintains the algorithms?  Who periodically checks/audits the robots to make sure subtle changes in the raw data aren’t having an exponentially negative effect on the data and automated processes.

Robots are humans too - most notably when it comes to software licensing.

By CTMfile on 10th Jul 2017:

Paul,
Agreed, probably the three key question in corporate treasury are:
1.  What is the minimum number of staff in a corporate treasury department that ensures continuity?
2. Who checks the algos, the automation systems and develops them when conditions change, as they always do?
3. Screw ups are inevitable, then how do corporate treasury departments cope? Sending for the consultant is not always the answer because the the solution is often needed immediately.

Slimming the corporate treasury department too much is going to cost hugely. Corporate treasurers need to fight CFOs and CEOs being too ‘clever’.

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