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Clone Yourself or Automate? The New Finance Movement That is Gaining Momentum

Finance professionals cloning themselves?

AI and automation changing the way we work?

A petition against manual and boring finance work with over 300 signatures?

No, it's not a new Sci-fi movie, it’s a campaign from 10 financial software companies that was created to raise awareness of the harmful effects of too much manual work in the finance department.

The campaign was started by the FP&A software company Datarails, who’s solution automates financial processes. Some companies have reported saving dozens of hours a month by cutting down on manual work through the Datarails solution.

FP&A influencers spoke to business news site Fortune about their personal experiences and frustrations with repetitive finance work throughout their careers.

“FP&A leaders often feel like they’re caught in between a rock and a hard place,” Anders Liu-Lindberg, cofounder, partner, and COO of the Business Partnering Institute said. As the leader of a finance consulting firm and an FP&A influencer with 225,000 LinkedIn followers he hears from FP&A leaders all the time who are “stuck with antiquated planning processes, such as budgets, disparate data sources, a spaghetti tool landscape, and spreadsheet jockey team members that rarely leave their cubicle.”

“FP&A leaders want to innovate, use the latest tools, and upskill their teams. This is what CFOs need to know,” he said.

Paul Barnhurst, also known as The FP&A Guy, and host of the weekly podcast FP&A Today, said that if you polled the average FP&A professional, they’re spending about half of their time doing manual tasks.

“The biggest thing for CFOs, is just make sure they’re listening to the FP&A team,” he said. “I think sometimes they don’t appreciate the amount of manual work that their FP&A team is doing because they see the end result.”

Datarails partnered with other software solutions such as Tipalti (automating accounts payable) Mesh Payments (automating spend management) and Vertice (automating SaaS purchases) along with 6 other companies for the campaign. All of them provide different automation solutions for the finance department.

But what exactly is the problem with too much manual work?

For one, it causes burnout and creates a mundane and repetitive feeling at the workplace. Accountants and other finance professionals are changing careers and quitting at record rates, and there is currently a serious finance employee shortage that is only expected to get worse.

The second reason is that finance professionals provide far more value to the company when they have time for collaboration, analysis, and strategic business partnering. Manual work prevents them from having time to do much of that.

“The end game for most [finance professionals] is to generate insights to be used for influencing business decisions and have an impact on business value creation,” Liu-Lindberg said. “This comes down to soft skills like communication, relationship-building, and the art of influencing.”

Manual work prevents them from having time to do much of that.

“We often ask finance professionals we encounter on various engagements if communication is important to their careers,” he says. “It’s close to 10 out of 10 on average. Yet, on the same scale, they rate below five on how much training they have received.”

Liu-Lindberg and Barnhurst signed the petition from titled “Make finance teams strategic leaders, not poor clones of themselves.”

Other FP&A influencers and leaders such as Sruthi Lanka, Christian Wattig, Aliyyah Abdullah, and Terrell A. Turner signed it as well, coming to a grand total of 312 signatures at time of publication.

The campaign, with the slogan #notaclone, includes a humorous video of a CFO cloning himself and a widget where you can upload a picture and clone yourself. It garnered a lot of attention from all types of finance professionals around the world.

It is clear that finance is tired of manual work and wants a change.

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