Has your relationship with money changed since the start of the global pandemic?
According to a new global survey, the answer for most people is “Yes.” 67% of people trust robots more than humans to manage their corporate and personal finances.
Money & Machines, the new report from Oracle and personal finance expert Farnoosh Torabi, surveyed 9,000 business leaders and consumers in 14 countries. The findings point to a future with fewer cash transactions and new areas of focus for corporate finance professionals.
For CFOs and other executives, the implications could be profound—affecting their roles, their teams, and their organizations’ business models.
Fear and anxiety about pandemic-related uncertainty are changing how people interact with money. 90% of business leaders worry about the impact of COVID-19 on their business, while 87% of consumers are experiencing financial fears.
Business leaders’ most common concerns are:
Among consumers, the top fears are:
Consumers have also developed an aversion to cash. Almost three-quarters (72%) of consumers say the pandemic has changed how they feel about handling cash, with many seeing cash as dirty and creating stress. More than a quarter (29%) of consumers now say that cash-only is a deal-breaker for doing business—a finding that is forcing business leaders to rethink how they sell goods and services.
While two-thirds of survey respondents said they trust robots more than humans, the percentage was even higher among business leaders. 73% of business leaders trust a robot more than themselves to manage finances, and 77% trust robots over their own finance teams.
Of particular concern to finance professionals: half (56%) of business leaders believe robots will replace corporate finance professionals in the next five years. Respondents want robots to handle tasks like finance approvals (43%), budgeting and forecasting (39%), reporting (38%), and compliance and risk management (38%). Instead of transactional work, business leaders want their finance teams to focus on communicating with customers and negotiating discounts.
“Robots are great with numbers and don’t have the same emotional connection with money,” said Farnoosh Torabi, host of the So Money podcast. “This doesn’t mean finance professionals are going away or being replaced entirely, but the research suggests they should focus on developing additional soft skills as their role evolves.”
So, where does that leave finance professionals?
At Oracle, we’ve been collaborating with professional organizations on the topic of finance talent for several years. Ash Noah, who heads up the CGMA program at AICPA-CIMA, offers this advice: “Finance teams need to start using their skills to provide deeper insights that can spur action, influence decisions, and create value throughout the enterprise. This type of work requires collaboration with cross-functional teams and non-finance professionals—and at times, leadership.”
“Financial processes in our personal and professional worlds have become increasingly digital for many years, and the events of 2020 have accelerated that trend,” said Juergen Lindner, senior vice president for Cloud ERP marketing at Oracle. “Organizations that don’t embrace these changes risk falling behind their peers and competitors; hurting employee productivity, morale and well-being; and struggling to attract the next generation of AI-empowered finance talent.”
Both consumers and businesses recognize that the recent pandemic has exacerbated fears about money and has profoundly shifted our relationship to managing finances. It’s a safe bet to expect that the future of finance will be a combination of robots and humans working in tandem to drive results faster and more efficiently than was ever thought possible.