Automation in 2020 – and beyond

In 2019, the general talk around automation in the mainstream press centred on preparedness: were people ready for the impact? Have businesses been taking enough care to prepare their workforces? And who will be winners or losers in the automation game? For us in the finance sector, we have felt the effects of automation more than some and our focus remains on its impact. Tools such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and accounting dashboards make the life of the finance professional that bit easier, bringing in efficiencies and freeing up time for creating value.

This level of change will only continue, and the future world of finance will become more digital, more streamlined.

It will need professionals who have a unique blend of technical and soft skills that enable them to seamlessly work alongside technologies like robotics and algorithms. And, as machines do the efficiency-focused tasks like process costing etc., attention will rightly be placed on how we can support revenue creation and add value as business partners.

Getting to grips with the changes new technologies bring and adapting new ways of working will be a constant work in progress for everyone. But, luckily for you, if you’re studying with CIMA you can be confident that the syllabus will give you all the tools you need to confidently face any challenge.

Not only has the CIMA Professional Qualification recently been updated (and will continue to be, on a rolling basis), but we have also Registered Tuition Provider introduced exam blueprints a first for the management accounting sector. The blueprints are a tool created to help tuition providers and students understand exactly what the new expectations are following the updates to the syllabus.

They tell you what you’ll be examined on and they also give employers a clear view that you’re gaining the skills they’ve told us they require finance professionals to have. To give you the best chance of success in your exams the blueprints detail what you’ll come to understand after completing the core activities for each subject and include a series of ‘I can’ statements you will be able to make on passing the exam.

‘I can’ statements

At Operational level, E1 ‘Finance Interacting with the Organisation’ will prepare you to “understand how the finance function enables, shapes and narrates value creation through planning, forecasting, resource allocation, performance management and financial reporting”; you will be able to comfortably make ‘I can’ statements such as: “I can apply appropriate techniques that support short-term decision-making”, or “I can identify appropriate sources of short-term finance and methods of short-term investments”.

The fact that the world of finance is increasingly digitised should not be seen as a bad thing. In 2020 and beyond, the changes offer great opportunity for our sector, and all of us as individuals, to practise and hone skills that aren’t typically associated with the finance function. The key to success, however, will be to keep an open and agile mindset, one where you accept the need to constantly learn new things, unlearn and relearn. This is how you will stay ahead of the curve and help your business thrive in uncertainty.

For tips and tools to help you pass your exams visit the CIMA study planner: For insights into the latest issues affecting the Accounting profession visit CIMA Insights:

• Stephen Flatman, Vice President, Examinations, Management Accounting, The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants