Nurma's David Kearney talks AI upskilling and job security

David Kearney discusses balance balancing the gains of AI with potential job displacement
David Kearney, Co-founder of Numra, an AI platform for finance teams, talks how AI will upskill finance and why he doesn't think it will lead to job losses

AI is bringing in changes cross sector: from mining, to EVs, from food to manufacturing. Yet, one sector that is getting a profound and deep affect from it is the financial sector.

From automated data analysis to predictive modelling and risk assessment, AI is revolutionising how financial institutions operate, make decisions, and serve their clients. This technological shift promises enhanced efficiency, accuracy, and insights, potentially leading to significant cost savings and improved financial outcomes.

Yet, as such optimising efforts from AI are ushering in, and AI becomes increasingly prevalent in finance departments across medium to large companies, it raises important questions about its impact on the workforce, ethical considerations, and broader societal implications.

To delve deeper into these issues and explore the transformative potential of AI in finance, we spoke with David Kearney, Co-founder of Numra, an AI platform for finance teams.

David Kearney bio
  • David Kearney is Co-founder of Numra, a startup aiming to streamline workloads for finance teams through AI. They’ve recently raised €1.5m (US$1.6m) to launch their AI-powered finance assistant Mary.

AI's effect on jobs

The integration of AI in finance departments is reshaping the landscape of financial processes, offering unprecedented efficiency and capabilities. However, this technological revolution also raises important questions about its impact on employment and broader societal implications. As AI continues to evolve and permeate various sectors, it's crucial to examine both its benefits and potential drawbacks.

One of the primary concerns surrounding AI adoption in finance is its potential to cause job losses, particularly for new graduates and less experienced professionals. However, David offers a more optimistic perspective on this issue.

"It's a common misconception that AI will cause widespread job losses in finance departments. Instead, AI augments employees' roles rather than replacing them entirely," he says. "We've seen this with previous technological revolutions—when productivity increases, costs decrease, the economy grows, and new jobs are created."

This view suggests that rather than eliminating jobs, AI is more likely to transform existing roles and create new opportunities. David draws a parallel with the introduction of spreadsheets in the 1980s, which, contrary to fears of job losses, actually led to significant growth in accounting positions.

The impact of AI extends beyond just employment numbers. It has the potential to significantly enhance the quality of work for finance professionals. Kearney explains:

"While certain job categories may be disrupted, Chartered Accountants and CPAs need not worry. AI will augment their role rather than replace them entirely," David says. "AI creates leverage for accountants, allowing them to shift their focus to higher-value work. As a result, we'll see productivity rise and overall industry growth."

This shift towards higher-value work could lead to increased job satisfaction and potentially better work-life balance for finance professionals. However, it also necessitates a re-evaluation of workforce skills and adaptation to new technologies.

Broader effects of the technology

When considering the broader societal impacts of AI in finance and tech sectors, David acknowledges both the opportunities and challenges:

"The integration of AI in the tech and finance sectors presents a range of societal impacts. It enhances productivity by automating routine tasks, which allows professionals to focus on more complex and creative work", says David. "This shift can lead to significant cost reductions and spur economic growth through the development of new industries and market opportunities."

While this paints a positive picture of AI's potential, David also recognises the need for careful management to ensure equitable benefits across society. The transition to AI-enhanced workplaces will require strategic planning and potentially new policies to address any disparities that may arise.

Balancing the efficiency gains of AI with potential job displacement remains a key challenge. David offers insight into how this balance might be achieved:

"Balancing the benefits of AI in financial processes with concerns like job displacement is crucial. The tasks AI automates—data entry, data cleansing, document processing, and error checking—are generally mind-numbing and repetitive. These are tasks that most people don't enjoy and that don't utilise the full potential of trained professionals."

By automating these mundane tasks, AI could free up finance professionals to focus on more strategic, value-added activities. This shift not only benefits businesses but also aligns with the career aspirations of many in the field:

"Chartered Accountants and CPAs are trained to be strategic business partners. They aim to spend their time gleaning insights from data and providing strategic decision support to stakeholders. By automating the time-consuming manual work, AI allows accountants to refocus on these more valuable activities, adding greater value to the business and driving growth."

While the integration of AI in finance departments presents challenges, it also offers significant opportunities for professional growth and industry advancement.

The key lies in managing this transition effectively, ensuring that the benefits of AI are leveraged to enhance rather than replace human capabilities. As David aptly puts it, "Ultimately, AI isn't about replacing jobs but about enhancing them."

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