CFOs adding to headcount in finance as AI programs develop.

Talent for IT.

In light of the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s $27 million Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics (AIDA) Grant in the financial sector, specialist recruiter Robert Half has conducted independently commissioned research amongst 150 CFOs in Singapore which has revealed a significant number of companies plan on adding to their financial headcount in 2019 to help implement AI programs.

With 86 per cent of Singaporean companies either already implementing AI or planning to, the AIDA Grant is aimed to further help financial employers to boost their existing AI capabilities. The advantages of AI and robotics in companies are vastly recognised as almost 50 per cent of the CFOs believe that the use of AI leads to increased efficiencies and productivity. Almost half (46 per cent) refer to better decision-making capabilities, followed by enhanced processes (44 per cent), further highlighting its potential to help grow businesses.

“The government grant is a great step forward for the finance industry to adopt more of an AI and data analytics-focused approach to doing business,” said Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, managing director of Robert Half Singapore. “Not only will the further focus on AI and data analytics help create jobs, a more tech-based approach ensures finance and accounting professionals move away from task-based roles, to focus more on processing and generating information that is critical for corporate decisions and financial reporting. In order to take full advantage of the benefits that AI can offer, employers need to have the right financial talent in place.”

When asked about their hiring plans to implement the company’s AI and digitation programs, 30 per cent of Singaporean CFOs plan to take on additional permanent finance professionals while a further 22 per cent of companies plan to hire extra temporary finance professionals.

However, with more than eight in 10 (84 per cent) CFOs admitting it’s more challenging to find qualified finance professionals compared to five years ago, the growth of AI is set to further highlight the skills-short market for finance professionals.

“The skills shortage in the financial employment market continues to impact companies across Singapore,” said Imbert-Bouchard. “Employers should take an ongoing strategic approach to staff attraction and retention, starting with having a clear view on the required skills needed to help support AI and robotics initiatives. Conducting an internal audit and assessing which experts need to be hired externally, as well as identifying the training programs needed for existing staff are crucial to successfully tackle and implement the ongoing digitisation efforts.”

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