As automation takes on more transactional activities, is finance within an organisation then made redundant? Quite the contrary, says AGOS Asia’s Joon Teoh. Finance, she says will simply shift its focus, while talents should step into a business partner role, if done right.
We know that automation is threatening many jobs with obsolescence.
As technology takes over much of business processes, accounting and finance roles are said to at the top of the list of jobs that are ripe for disruption, if not already.
“To be honest, the transactional part of the jobs is already gone,” says Joon Teoh, founder and CEO of AGOS Asia.
“Accept it and move on.”
“What we need to do now is - learn new skill sets, be open and flexible to change.”
AGOS Asia - Raising Global Competitiveness Among Finance Talents in Malaysia
With over 15 years experience driving finance strategy and transformation in Fortune 500 companies, Teoh is armed with a wide insight into the shifting nature of business processes, and how talents can move up the curve to deliver value-added services.
An account or finance administrator’s job, she says, can no longer be confined to just crunching numbers, or getting payments processed.
“They need to move up to a business partner level,” says Teoh. “For instance, a good finance person would be helping Sales and Marketing team to do return on investment analysis on their marketing spent.”
“The role of a procurement person is not just to purchase orders and make payment. They should be doing strategic negotiation with suppliers, to see whether they can aggregate certain type of spend and how to get the best value out of it.”
Unfortunately, Malaysian talents are largely still ‘stuck’ in doing traditional, transactional roles, fast being taken over by technology.
“Let the robots do the job,” she says. “Focus on the analysing, reviewing and providing insights and recommendations to the management.”
Challenges Leaders Face in Effecting Finance Transformation
Teoh started AGOS Asia in late 2015, with the aim to facilitate clients and their employees adopt digitalisation, automation and robotics in finance functions and global finance shared services.
She admits it was a big career leap - leaving her role as head of global finance shared services in a multinational company, to start her own consultancy.
"I also want to inspire Malaysian talents to take up the challenge to master new skills, embrace technology and then, move on to a more value added role" - Joon Teoh
“I really want to help upskill the talents in Malaysia,” says Teoh, an accountant by training.
"I would like to use the skill sets that I have acquired to help organisations, especially SMEs to transform their processes and close the gap, when it comes to implementing best practices."
Having been exposed to roles from finance director and audit, to management accounting and corporate finance, Teoh felt that she had enough experience under her belt to impact a bigger change in the industry.
“Where I came from (in the multinational company), finance, for instance, takes a very strong lead in business decision making. They are seen as a brainstorming partner.”
“A partner that where you would turn to ask (the finance person), ‘What’s your point of view?’ or ‘What kind of considerations do we have?,” says Teoh.
“In Malaysia, we tend to ask ‘Have you paid the bills?’ or ‘Is my salary in?'. So, it's a very different mindset’” she adds with a chuckle.
“I hope to change that. I also want to inspire Malaysian talents to take up the challenge to master new skills, embrace technology and then, move on to a more value-added role.”
Driving Shared Services to New Heights Through Automation
For the second time, AGOS will be hosting the AGOS Finance Summit to discuss how Finance & Finance Shared Services (FSS) can push forward on Industry Revolution 4.0 through making robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), cloud and blockchain as enablers of transformation.
"My biggest hope is when our Malaysian talents come to this summit, they will be inspired to think 'Yes, I can do it! I want to go back to my organisation to make a change," says Teoh.
"This platform also enables multinational companies and global shared services to interact with the Malaysian GLCs and SMEs."
The AGOS Finance Summit 2019 will be held on April 9 to 10 at Connexion @ Vertical in Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur. For more details, please visit www.agossummit.com.
Written by Cynthia Ng. As seen on: