Our article “Is your corporate treasury middle management job safe? Can a robot do your job?” in July last year generated 1000s of views and much discussion. Our conclusion was that corporate treasury staff need to look at the actual tasks that they perform to see whether they are replaceable. Robots and digital assistants replace tasks not jobs automatically, e.g. Gia the Digital Assistant in EMAGIA’s Global Order-to-Cash platform, see, just makes it easier for finance people to do their jobs.
The ultimate size for the corporate treasury department
Two key findings from recent have emerged from all the research on work automation/robotics:
- 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.”
- a task based analysis 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.
In our July 2017 article we asked, “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?
There are other questions too, e.g. Ernst & Young’s Paul Bramwell, commented:
- “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."
Bramwell raises a huge point about backup, so maybe the ultimate structure of the corporate treasury department is:
- one Corporate Treasurer and an Assistant Treasurer
- two junior treasury clerks/admin people
- two IT/API/algo people (internal or external?)
- loads of on-going consultancy support.
CTMfile take: Understanding the level of backup/cover required in the corporate treasury department is becoming a major issue in corporate treasury as AI and automation drive out processes. The corporate treasury associations need to give advice on this.
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