Finance professionals do not fear the rise of artificial intelligence, automation and robots despite popular fears which range from job losses to doomsday scenarios, a survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) has found.

The poll, in which 1,628 CIMA members participated, revealed that 83% support the idea of more automation if it saves time and money or helps with indecision in their organisations.

When asked about the effect of such innovation on businesses, respondents said that the outcome would be more efficient companies as a result of better automation and data analysis (62%), followed by a general up-skilling of the workforce due to the need for more advanced computer skills (47%).

More than one third were of the view that there will be a better work-life balance as computers will take over jobs while humans continue to reap the profit.

However, 29% feared that the increased automation will lead to a loss of jobs and therefore to greater inequality.

Nearly one-fifth (22%) of the respondent said that a reliance on automation or technology has led to their organisation taking a wrong decision in the past five years, 39% said this has never happened as they know that they cannot solely rely on automated processes.

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CIMA CEO Andrew Harding said: “While it’s possible to imagine a nightmare scenario where advances in technology lead to mass redundancies, the world’s finance departments have a less alarmist view. Our members believe that artificial intelligence, robots and other technologies will alter, but not destroy, the jobs of accountants and other professionals. Organisations need to examine their business models and turn innovations such as AI and automation into an opportunity not a threat.

“There is precedent to support the idea that new technologies will make lives easier. Ever since the invention of the printing press major disruptions can be seen to have a short-term shock but deliver long-term benefit. The challenge for businesses is to use change to their advantage.”