AP Automation

Could financial automation replace your line manager?

In our latest blog series, we are revealing insights and exploring industry findings from our Are Friends Electric? Survey analyzing attitudes toward financial automation among 500 finance and accounting professionals in the US, UK, France, and Germany. You can find the first two parts of this series here:

Part 1: Automation: Threat or opportunity?

Part 2: The Upside of Automation

In our first exploration of this report, we noted that respondents were bullish on the potential of automation to improve their work lives. In part 2, we took a deeper dive into their reasons for believing this. Now, in our third entry in the series, we’re looking at how financial professionals feel about the notion of automation taking over for their supervisors.


Taking direction from software—a good or bad thing?

Science fiction likes to paint a grim picture of an automated world where human beings take orders from robots; the reality of automation is a little more mundane. Our research suggests that workers are increasingly comfortable collaborating with and even taking direction from a piece of software—as long as it stays in its place.

Respondents we surveyed were surprisingly open about allowing a piece of software to check their work, monitor their performance, and set tasks.



Comfort among respondents about financial automation

The more respondents are exposed to automation in their working environment, the more comfortable they are taking their cues from technology, as evidenced by the high comfort levels across the board among US employees—where automation is more prevalent. By contrast, employees in France and Germany, where automation is significantly less embedded, were far more cautious about handing over certain responsibilities to a machine.

The days of android line managers stalking the office may well belong in dystopian fiction, but frontline workers nonetheless showed a willingness to swap their bosses for machines of a different kind. In fact, 40% of the frontline workers we surveyed said they thought a software program would be a more effective line manager than their current boss, rising to 48% in the US. Respondents in France and Germany were more skeptical, with only a third agreeing that a machine could be an effective line manager.


Key takeaways

Automation is brilliant at sifting and checking high volumes of financial data. So when it comes to checking work, spotting problems, and providing potential solutions, the machines win hands down. Instead of putting ourselves into a competition we will never win, we need to shift our thinking around automation to include the possibility that it can enable us to perform more strategically valuable roles. Not only can machines take responsibility for rote tasks no one wants to perform, but they can also provide us with actionable data and anticipate problems, enabling us to do what we do best: make intelligent, empathetic decisions.



Survey parameters

Respondents to our online survey ranged from junior employees to mid-level managers within the finance department at medium to large-sized companies. All respondents had a high level of understanding of their company’s investment in technologies related to automation in their current job.


Put simply: these respondents know what they’re talking about and are beyond qualified to provide their personal opinion on widespread financial automation implementation. This can be a controversial topic. After all, we’re discussing significant changes to many people’s careers and livelihoods.

Tradeshift keeps its finger on the pulse of the market by conducting extensive research and surveys to understand the sentiment of today’s workers and better grasp what the future of work looks like.  Our findings, paired with our advanced solutions and platforms, help organizations to better plan, prepare, and react to the shifts in the workplace. Want to discover more findings from our latest surveys? Be sure to read through our full report, Are Friends Electric? available for download here.

Stay tuned for our next addition to this series revealing insights and exploring the industry findings from our Are Friends Electric? Survey. You can find the first two parts of this series in Automation: Threat or Opportunity and The Upside of Automation. Keep an eye out for the final entry in this series, Ready for change: The upskilling imperative.

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