Global AI/ML Think Tank for FP&A

Global AI/ML Think Tank for FP&A

By Lance Rubin, Cashflow Financial Modeler and Finance Innovator, and Larysa Melnychuk, Managing Director at FP&A Trends group

Background

As the 4th Industrial revolution makes sizeable impacts on our lives through various sectors like taxis/ride sharing, accommodation, banking, investing and transaction processing etc a group of finance professionals are not just sitting back and watching as this unfolds before them.

This group of Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) experts are working together across the globe and exploring in more detail what this means specifically for Finance.

Whilst the trends are rapidly evolving and the technology is far more advanced today than in the past, there are still a lot of challenges in adopting these new innovative trends within Finance.

As an example, there is no out of the box solution for predictive analytics that you simply click a button and hey presto you have the answer presented for you.

This takes a lot of testing, coding and of course change in the mindset of the finance professionals who would do a lot of this work today manually. 

Industry trends

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that these changes are going to have a sizeable impact but also present new opportunities for Finance. 

The opportunity to learn new skills and play with new tools that will see technology and terms like predictive, prescriptive analytics and modelling be widely known and understood and more embedded into Finance than what it is today.

Rather than list them all in this blog simply follow some of the thought leaders and trends discussed on LinkedIn or future blogs written from this group to keep abreast of these trends.

What has this group done to date

The group was formed earlier this year and comprised a range of professionals from Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA to name a few…and expanding.

The members of this group have all held or currently hold leadership positions is large multinational organisations within FP&A.

The group reached consensus on its proposed mission as this was important to ensure that there was alignment of goals across the globe.  This is what was agreed.

Mission

The mission of the Committee is to guide the development, application and promotion of better practices for using AI/ML and other related data science techniques within in Finance (FP&A).

This includes identifying, driving and supporting new trends by developing new content and sharing it with the global finance community.

The ultimate strategic purpose being enabling quick and dynamic decision making that is reliable.

The core focus of this committee should therefore be on the practical application of AI/ML e.g. leadership, people, roadblocks and change management focusing ultimately on benefits realisation. 

There should be less focus on the core technical aspects but rather the journey. 

In addition, the group set some general guidelines like Chatham House Rules to provide a safe environment for sharing information.  However, at the same time recognise that where possible (as per our mission) we intend to promote better practice for using AI/ML and related data science techniques. 

The group listened to and discussed some real life experiences of a number of major organisations that have already developed, implemented and experimented with predictive analytics.

What does this group have planned for the future? 

As stated in the mission the group intends to share with the finance community some best practice practices and possible thought leadership in this context. 

With the permission and review by members of the group this may involve releasing aspects of technical materials produced by specific members with their/the organisations permission of course.

The practical application of some of these solutions are not straight forward and often produce results that our human brains are just not able to decipher or understand. 

This results in us having to get a better understanding of the how and why in some cases where there are data anomalies or outliers exist. Or simply just to be able to explain the results. At times even this is not possible and this is probably one of the most challenging aspects of AI/ML.

What does success look like?

Success for this group will an increase in aware of best practice AI/ML disciplines. This will, where possible, be tech and solution agnostic so as to not cloud the message with selling a particular solution and remain independent. 

The intention is not market any particular solution but more guide the journey to embracing a possible range of solutions and design concepts that can be applied in a myriad of contexts that exist.

No single solution will solve all the problems in any event. Certainly, some of this might even use Excel (which has a ML plugin now)…heaven forbid!

Conclusion

If you would like to stay up to date with the outcomes of this group or even wish to participate in the AI/ML Committee please contact any of the FP&A Trends LinkedIn group managers being Larysa, Lance or Irina.
Or subscribe to the mailing list.