CFO Insights - Page 12

Combining RPA & AI for Business Success


By: Esker Document Automation | 5 July 2021

Photo by @markuswinkler on Unsplash

AI Can be Scary

Alan Turing. Stephen Hawking. Bill Gates. Elon Musk. All these great minds of the computing world warned against the dangers of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and they have a point. The implications of any new technology need to be considered carefully — especially ones that, according to Stephen Hawking, could make humanity extinct.¹ In addition to envisioning new ways to make it truly useful, societal pressures that come with any new technological advancement must be addressed. Apart from the sci-fi scenario that evil robots will take over the Earth, the biggest fear that people express about AI and its related technologies is that their jobs will be replaced by it. This is not totally unfounded, as a 2019 McKinsey Global Institute Report estimates that that “about half of all the activities people are paid to do in the world’s workforce could potentially be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies.” Yet, focusing on whether AI will replace certain human-performed activities rather than entire occupations would be a preferred approach to considering the implications. Leveraging automation that includes AI allows for better quality and understanding of the data and acceleration of work processes, all packaged into flexible, scalable solutions that can increase savings and productivity. This is the reason why this fast-evolving yet increasingly accessible technology is quickly gaining traction in business process applications.

When business process automation first caught hold in the early 2000s, it was clearly intended as an economical replacement for tasks previously carried out entirely by humans. Since warning bells have gone off about the economic and social impacts of such massive changes, though, the conversation needs to change from hype to a more rational examination of how humans and machines will work hand-in-(robotic)-hand in the future. “As processes are transformed by the automation of individual activities, people will perform activities that complement the work that machines do, and vice versa,” Bughin et al. write in their report.² In the last few years, for example, AI-powered automation has evolved to enable the optimization of the entire cash conversion cycle, thereby enhancing previous automation technologies that had already changed the workflows of finance and customer service staff considerably.

…But Not That Scary If Applied Judiciously

The two versions of automation currently most in use in finance and customer service functions are Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and AI with its various subcategories such as Machine Learning and Deep Learning. Often used somewhat interchangeably, these two technologies are not the same thing.

RPA in its most simple form, also frequently referred to as a “bot”, is basically a piece of code that executes strictly defined tasks repetitively and thereby automates business processes, such as signing into and pulling information from vendors and customer portals. You can think of it as an Excel macro that executes a set of instructions. RPAs, however, is not limited to Excel. They can be very useful when the same tasks need to be carried out repeatedly without any adaptation. This also means, though, that an RPA can easily “break” if the applications that the code interacts with change. The strictly task-focused, rules-based approach, however, can relieve the customer service or finance staff from the drudgery of repetitive work.

Once adaptive behavior is required – such as error resolution or analysis – the dynamic nature of AI comes into play. The term AI generally describes the mimicking of human, “natural” intelligence by using algorithms. This imitation of cognitive functions then allows for the extraction and analysis of large amounts of data, which are concentrated and processed to provide insights and inform future actions. The process of learning and adapting to the collected data constitutes what is generally referred to as machine learning. In a procure-to-pay (P2P) or order-to-cash (O2C) environment this can refer to the mechanism of the algorithm learning how orders and invoices – as well as all collateral functions – are processed and exceptions are handled. Analyses can then be performed on the collected data while at the same time utilising auto-learning technology to ensure the continuous improvement of these inherent processes and simultaneously optimize its accuracy and efficiency.

Combining the task execution of RPA with AI’s text capture, analysis, and auto-adapting capabilities is what enables veritable automation of business processes. Esker’s Order Management and Accounts Payable solutions both embed multiple AI-based recognition layers: after the characters on inbound orders and invoices have been gathered using text extraction or OCR, data capture technologies are applied to give meaning to those characters — for example identifying invoice date, PO number, amount totals, or line-item information. The multi-layer AI engine that combines Esker Synergy, a Deep Learning neural network possessing auto-learning and teaching capabilities and trained on historical data, converts the extracted information into data that can be input into the ERP. The real value of this hyper-automation solution lies in combining multiple technologies. For example, an order or an invoice is retrieved from a portal via RPA, its data recognized by AI and then pushed into the ERP using an API or web services integration tool, with the final step of an RPA function confirming the process on the portal.

By building on RPA, AI makes the solution adaptable and flexible. While leveraging these two complementary technologies enables successful end-to-end automation, AI does not depend on RPA to create value. To analyze and automate complex business processes, AI and its various subcategories are able to provide a comprehensive and robust structure whose learning, reasoning, and self-correction capabilities can provide greater process efficiency.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Whereas RPA is a low-risk yet short-term investment, combining it with AI adds a whole new dimension of process automation adapted to the long term. This complementary relationship alone should be of special interest to those in charge of technology investments in an organization. Yet businesses would be amiss if cost reduction and labor replacement were the only goals that decision-makers had their eyes on. Of course, even before industrialization, there were fears of the replacement of workers, but humans have not been replaced (yet!). Rather than eliminating jobs, the introduction of AI capabilities into the workplace can enable staff resources to be directed to higher-value tasks such as enhanced customer service activities, performing analyses, identifying process improvements, and negotiating payment terms.

This requires, however, that businesses invest in the skill development of their employees as well as focus on innovation – both technological and social. Jacques Bughin and Eric Hazan of McKinsey Quarterly refers to this as Technological Social Responsibility (TSR).³ TSR amounts to a “conscious alignment between short- and medium-term business goals and longer-term societal ones.” By aligning business goals with societal interests in a sustainable manner we would be taking the wind out of the sails of those that see calamity in every new technology. According to Jaron Lanier and Glen Weyl, “regardless of how one sees it, an understanding of AI focused on independence from—rather than interdependence with—humans misses most of the potential for software technology.”

Article by Jean-Jacques Bérard, Executive Vice President, Research & Development, Esker

Asia’s Enterprise Automation Plans Must Accelerate Post-COVID-19


Chris Loo, UiPath’s Managing Director for Southeast Asia, discusses the importance of RPA and software automation in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Qinthara Fasya, DigitalCFO Asia | 22 June 2021

Photo provided by UI Path

In every aspect of human existence, the COVID-19 pandemic is unparalleled. As the situation worsens, governments and communities must rely on their reservoirs of determination and fortitude to deal with the crisis and limit its effects. Simultaneously, the pandemic is driving structural changes in businesses and the workplace.

While it may be early to forecast the end of the pandemic in light of recent vaccination news, it will end eventually. When that happens, some of the pandemic’s behaviors and changes will linger, affecting both the Asian workforce and labor itself – from Malaysia to Vietnam. DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Chris Loo, UiPath’s Managing Director for Southeast Asia to learn more about how automation is taking on a new urgency in the context of business risk and resiliency.

In the past year, how do you think the pandemic has affected finance companies globally?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way financial organisations approach and engage with automation solutions in a number of ways. Firstly, the pandemic created a significant amount of stress on many companies and, in the short term at least, they turned to automation out of a need for survival. 

Most firms adopted RPA to automate processes that helped them adapt to the immediate environment. For example, many banks have implemented RPA and AI to handle basic support requests so humans can keep up with high call volumes, particularly surrounding surges in requests following government regulations on loans and mortgage payments etc during the height of the pandemic.

Financial services organisations are now embracing RPA in order to build resilience. As we emerge from the crisis, firms will look to automation as a way to mitigate the risks that future crises pose to the supply and productivity of human workers. By investing in automation technologies, businesses ensure that their core operations are supported even if employees are unable to work at full capacity, fostering greater resiliency by lowering dependencies on manual processes and paperwork.

How do you think these companies can emerge through automation?

When coronavirus passes, some behaviours and changes adopted during the pandemic will remain with us and affect both the workforce and work itself. Automation has been a major force in reshaping work since long before the pandemic; now, it’s taking on a new urgency in the context of business risk, resiliency and recovery. Firms who adopted RPA during the pandemic will emerge stronger, more resilient and more competitive. They will be able to do more with less and as such will be able to grow faster and adapt to change better. 

Importantly, employees themselves will have seen how RPA has benefitted them. According to UiPath’s 2021 Office Worker Survey, two-thirds of Singaporean respondents felt they were doing the same tasks repeatedly at work with inputting data, scheduling meetings and drafting emails top of their wish lists of tasks to be automated. Interestingly, 71% of Singaporean respondents wished parts of their job were automated.

Firms that use RPA to automate away repetitive, rules-based work, allowing employees to do more rewarding, value-added work will see morale improve and higher productivity.

How crucial is it for companies to tie in the adoption of automation into their processes in this day and age?

Automation is vital for companies if they want to compete in the 21st century. RPA allows anyone today to configure computer software, or a “robot” to emulate and integrate the actions of a human interacting within digital systems to execute a business process. RPA robots utilize the user interface, just like humans do, to capture data and manipulate applications. These robots interpret, trigger responses and communicate with other systems in order to perform a vast variety of repetitive tasks. Only substantially better: an RPA software robot never sleeps and makes zero mistakes.

RPA technology is non-intrusive – it can be placed ‘on top’ of existing legacy IT infrastructure without causing disruption. A by-product of this is greater efficiency and cost savings. Most importantly, though, RPA takes the robot out of the human. By automating repetitive, rules-based tasks, RPA allows employees to perform more value-added work. This has the added benefit of improving workplace morale and job satisfaction. Automation technologies such as RPA will help future-proof companies and allow them to be more adaptable not just for today, but tomorrow as well.

Why is it important for leaders to adapt to automation and how would it affect them in the long run? 

Leaders – from CEOs to CFOs – need to take the lead in driving efficiencies in an organisation. Technology should be front and centre of a leader’s strategy and the good news is that automation technologies such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are well suited to helping them drive these efficiencies. 

There are many short-term benefits to RPA, including reduced costs, greater productivity and a happier workforce. Longer-term, companies simply become more agile and flexible, able to adapt quickly to rapid change and be more resilient to disruption.

In your opinion, how does automation insulate and lower the risks of work? 

The COVID-19 pandemic had exposed a number of risks and weaknesses for many firms, from suddenly dealing with a workforce that was working from home to serving a customer base whose habits had changed. Many firms turned to technology and digitisation to help them become more resilient, including leveraging automation technologies such as RPA to take on many tasks. While it was a difficult time, the upshot was that many of the firms that UiPath worked with over this period emerged stronger, more resilient and more agile.

For financial services firms in particular, another large risk is compliance and ensuring they adhere to the various local and international rules and regulations that exist in their industry. RPA reduces regulatory risk and fines by leveraging a digital workforce, bringing manual errors down to near-zero​, refocusing employee’s efforts on investigation and analysis​, all the while staying up to date as regulations change to keep pace with requirements.

What is UiPath and what does it focus on?

UiPath started in 2005 as a 10-people team based in Bucharest, led by Daniel Dines. In the beginning, we outsourced automation libraries and software to some of the world’s biggest companies. Today, we have over 40 offices around the world and work with many of the largest companies in the world, automating repetitive, rules-based tasks.

UiPath is reshaping how people work and has the vision to deliver the Fully Automated Enterprise™, one where companies use automation to unlock their greatest potential. UiPath offers an end-to-end platform for automation and is built to address the full lifecycle of automation and advance the next generation of automation, combining the leading Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solution with a full suite of capabilities that enable every organization to rapidly scale digital business operations.

What is “Low-code” automation and how does it benefit users?

This is an exciting space and the ability for citizen developers and even employees with limited coding experience to build their own automation apps will change the way employees perceive and embrace automation. 

UiPath Apps is a web-based, drag and drop business application studio that enables citizen developers to build and deploy enterprise grade applications that deliver automation solutions. Thanks to the low-code applications, the automation solutions are conceptualised, designed and ultimately built by the users themselves and so have much more relevance to their everyday working lives.

UiPath Apps is designed to be user-friendly, with drag-and-drop functionality that allows users to build their own automation that can be accessed from multiple platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, mobile devices etc). Robots will be able to log in and extract data from multiple systems with or without an API, placing the power of digital transformation into the hands of the employees.

Share with me how UiPath leads the “automation first” era.

UiPath’s vision is to create a robot for every person, enabling employees throughout an organisation to both participate in the automation process and benefit from working alongside robots every day. We want to continue to lead the way to democratise automation throughout an organisation, creating millions of hours of digital capacity, driving fast productivity gains for every employee, and delivering much improved customer experiences, and higher job satisfaction and employee engagement.

We want to enable the benefits of a Fully Automated Enterprise to all companies. This is an organisation that is able to discover automation opportunities powered by AI and their employees, where they can then build automation quickly, from the simple to the advanced and then go on to manage, deploy, and optimise this automation at enterprise scale.

What does UiPath have to offer finance companies and CFOs?

RPA is industry agnostic, meaning that the technology can be (and is) used across all industries from Finance and Accounting to Aviation, Healthcare and Manufacturing. CFOs exist in all major companies in all industries and while their jobs will undoubtedly vary, they all have a few key things in common. UiPath uses AI-based computer vision to ensure our robots emulate the way humans actually work and so this has multiple applications for CFOs and financial services firms.

As with the rest of the C Suite, CFOs are striving to grow their business and go beyond managing cost and numbers and ensuring compliance. The modern CFO is increasingly looking to technology to help them do this, especially digital finance driven by RPA, AI and ML which will create an agile finance operation that proactively responds to stakeholders and enables the business to quickly evaluate and act on value propositions.

The CFO is key to leading and driving this, but also important are other finance leaders such as VPs of Finance and Accounting, as well as Digital Transformation Leaders such as the CTO, COO, and CIO.

In hindsight,

The COVID-19 pandemic made it critical for businesses to digitize in order to respond to rapidly changing conditions. People were suddenly compelled – often by law – to work from home, requiring systems that rely on employees working in the office to adapt. Many organizations discovered inefficiencies as a result of this; they realized how reliant on manual labor they were – such as data input, physical meetings, and so on – and that many of these jobs could be automated in the first place. As a result, by using technology like RPA to tackle a pressing problem, businesses have unwittingly strengthened their own long-term resilience and competitiveness.

FP&A, Analytics are CFOs Key Targets for improvement


CFO Signals survey suggests that beyond the pandemic, finance leaders anticipate multiple bumps ahead

Tricia Ang | 3 May 2021

Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

CFOs may be optimistic about the post-pandemic economy, but they are not expecting business to resume as normal. According to Deloitte’s North American CFO Signals survey, for the first quarter of 2021 most CFOs (58%) expect their finance employees to work only two to three days a week on-site, while nearly one-third (31%) expect more than four days a week on-site. In general, slightly more than three-quarters of CFOs anticipate that more of their work would be completed remotely post-pandemic, compared to pre-pandemic.

The survey received responses from 128 CFOs representing some of North America’s largest and most prominent corporations from February 8 to February 19. More than a fifth of the CFOs came from businesses with annual revenues above $10 billion. Public corporations account for slightly more than two-thirds of the total  (69%). Many CFOs foresee a hybrid on-site/remote work structure in the finance function, according to responses to a series of questions about financial leadership beyond the pandemic; about a quarter of respondents (24%) expect to hire fewer finance staff.

Among core finance functions, 63% of CFOs cited FP&A as the one they would most like to improve. CFOs may have developed a better view of how they’d like to redesign FP&A as a result of the increased pressure on FP&A teams during the pandemic—from offering robust scenario modeling to tracking and optimizing key priorities like cash flow and liquidity.

Improving core functions

Almost half of CFOs stated they would like to improve management reporting, with controllership/accounting identified as the top priority for improvement  (25%). Treasury (19%), investor relations (17%), and internal audit (15%) are the other roles that have been identified for improvement.

Given their emphasis on improving FP&A, it’s somewhat unsurprising that CFOs who responded to the survey claim they would disproportionately prefer data analytics and forecasting if they could bolster their finance team with a specific skill set or knowledge.

One respondent wrote in a comment of wanting “the ability to conceptualize and execute meaningful new analyses.” Deriving such insights from data often necessitates the use of technology, which may shine light on why technology, multimedia, and automation were ranked second  in terms of the skillsets or capabilities that CFOs would most like to add to their finance teams.

CFOs also seek greater business acumen and knowledge, presumably so their finance organization can increase its value to the business. And many CFOs would like to bolster their teams’ strategic and communication abilities, perhaps to identify new opportunities for growth, present more compelling narratives to investors or strengthen the finance function’s decision-making capabilities.

Few CFOs plan to rely on service providers to fill in the gaps. Just 21% expect more outsourced finance services in the aftermath of the pandemic; 55% disagree or strongly disagree that they will use more outsourced finance services.

Current Events

CFOs face challenges in the present while planning for the future. Just 37% of CFOs say their companies have already reached pre-crisis operating capacities, while 26% expect to make a full recovery by 2022.

The 10% of surveyed CFOs who say they do not expect a return to pre-operating levels sooner than the third quarter of 2022 are led by those from the retail/wholesale and healthcare/pharma sectors. “On an encouraging note, more than one-third of CFOs indicated their companies are operating at or above pre-crisis levels,” says Steve Gallucci, national managing partner, U.S. Chief Financial Officer Program, Deloitte LLP. “Still, a large percentage project it will take longer, some as far out as the third quarter of 2022 or later. And while COVID-19 cases are falling and progress is being made on vaccine deployment, CFOs remain highly concerned about the well-being of their talent and potential burnout.”

Factors contributing to CFOs’ overall cautiousness may include the discovery of COVID-19 variants and lingering social and economic fallout from the pandemic.

In terms of their own staff, fewer than one-fifth (18%) of CFOs expect to require all employees or employees in some functional areas/roles to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination before returning to on-site work (except for those with a medical, religious, or other reason); 41% do not expect to require a vaccine at all. 35% claim they don’t know and are most likely still trying to work out a policy.

As compared to pre-pandemic levels, expectations for post-pandemic travel expenses are dwindling. Overall, 86% of CFOs anticipate post-pandemic travel expenses to be less than 81% of pre-pandemic levels. More than a third (36%) expect their post-pandemic travel expenses to fall to 60% or lesser.

In addition to concerns about COVID-19, surveyed CFOs also expressed worries about the potential for increased taxes and regulation.

Original article from Wall Street Journal

CFOs are adopting cybersecurity skills as Covid urges digitalization 


CFOs today play an important role in the day-to-day operations of a company. They are accountable for any loss of control over financial reporting, as well as the potential loss of funds.

By: Tricia Ang | 14 April 2021

Photo by @domenicoloia on Unsplash

As digitalisation gains traction, the CFO collaborates with IT experts to establish cybersecurity policies and guidelines that identify the areas in finance processes that are most vulnerable to attack.

While cybersecurity is considered an IT domain, the CFO’s position has become more prominent as the pandemic has pushed digitalisation and remote finance processes.

With the increase of work-from-home setups that are not as adequately or reliably secured as internal business networks, cybercriminals are exploiting Covid-related worries to launch themed phishing attacks.

CFOs must create security mechanisms tailored to the finance role rather than relying on the organization’s blanket security protocols to protect financial data.

CFOs focus on cybersecurity

The CFO is not only responsible for ensuring that the organization’s balance sheet and cash position are healthy to weather pandemics such as this one, but also for keeping a pulse on the entire company operation.

CFOs today play an important role in the day-to-day operations of a company, and they are accountable for any loss of control over financial statements as well as the possible loss of funds, whether by fraud or as a result of a third-party misfortune. The information that the CFO manages and deals with on a daily basis are some of the most sensitive and crucial in the organization.

As Covid embraces digitalization, CFOs are cultivating cybersecurity skills.

The role of the CFO

Due to the vulnerability of finance to malicious attacks, CFOs must become involved in cybersecurity and be acquainted with IT security concerns, ideally within the framework of various legal systems.

CFOs must ensure that their organisations are thoroughly prepared to deal with these emerging challenges by equipping themselves to deal with reputational attacks.  The quicker an organization reacts to attacks on its credibility, the better the outcome.

Learn approaches to forecasting starting from the classical linearforecasting methods to non-linear approaches, predicting extreme events and therefore the sorts of techniques employed by traders.

Through taking proactive action in advance of targeted attacks, a meticulous CFO can save the company the embarrassment and financial impact of a major breach. Companies should devote time and resources to developing a data breach response plan. They must also practice different scenarios in advance of an event.

“A solid understanding of data management is key. If today’s CFO wants to fulfil his or her role, they will need to filter critical and confidential data and make the company’s protection a priority.”

As the number of data breaches rises, CFOs must be proactive and continuously collaborate with IT experts.  The continued exposure means  it is becoming increasingly important for a CFO to be tech-savvy.

The greatest threat is not the IT system itself, but how employees use it. Regardless of how many firewalls or passwords are in place, any misbehavior by a member of the organization will endanger everything.

Every CFO’s focus is rapidly on training employees on the risks associated with cyberattacks and putting in place preventive measures.

The CFO must always be aware of where information is stored, how it is protected, and who may try to steal it, and how they might gain access to it. Most notably, the CFO has a responsibility to provide the board with plain, real, and full disclosure on a wide range of issues, which many would argue may include the potential financial impact of a cyberattack.

CPA Australia: Singapore’s small businesses more resilient compared to counterparts in Southeast Asia


Research finds Singapore’s small businesses are more optimistic on growth for 2021.

DigitalCFO Newsroom | 30 March 2021

Image by @Ivnatikk on Unsplash

Many Singapore’s small businesses had a tough time last year due to COVID-19. But according to global professional accounting body CPA Australia, local companies were less impacted than their counterparts in Southeast Asia.

Small businesses in Singapore were also most likely to report that government support or incentives had a positive influence on their businesses and that they had utilized such measures last year.

These are among the new findings from CPA Australia’s annual survey of small businesses in 11 Asia-Pacific markets, including Singapore.

The survey findings reported that 55% of Singapore’s small businesses said the pandemic had impacted them negatively. However, this figure is lower than for small businesses in Malaysia (67%), Vietnam (81%) and Indonesia (68%).

29% of Singapore’s small businesses said the government’s support measures had a positive influence on their businesses in 2020, while 27% sought out government support as a major response to COVID-19.

“The data suggests that the combination of fiscal, monetary and other measures, mounted by the Singapore government in response to COVID-19, helped small businesses navigate the worst recession that the country has faced in over 50 years and cushioned businesses from the worst of the impact,” said Mr Max Loh, CPA Australia’s Singapore Divisional President.

In 2020, the government funded approximately S$100 billion in stimulus measures to support local enterprises and the economy, while at the same time saving jobs.

More of small businesses in Singapore (53%) are optimistic about their growth prospects in 2021 compared with counterparts in developed markets like Hong Kong (21.2 %), Australia (41.4 %) and New Zealand (44 %).

Singapore’s small businesses are planning to increase their focus on innovation this year. Nearly 19% say they will introduce a new product, process or service that is unique to their market or the world in 2021, compared with 13.4% last year and 13.9% in 2019.

“Innovation is likely to result in business growth especially in an increasingly competitive and disruptive business environment. Small businesses will do well to continuously improve their product offerings, customer service or accessibility in order to thrive,” said Mr Loh.

Amist the pandemic, many small businesses digitalized their operations and worked in new ways in order to make ends meet.

More (84.6%) small businesses in Singapore used social media to promote their business last year, as compared to 71.2% in 2019. Only a quarter of businesses surveyed did not earn any revenue from online sales in 2020, a reduced number from 39% in 2019.

Singapore’s small businesses also quickly adopted new digital payment technologies. More than eight in ten (84.8%) received payment through platforms such as Grabpay, Dash, Pay Lah in 2020, up from 70.6% in 2019.

Profit is helping to drive this focus on technology. Over 38% of small businesses that invested in technology in 2020 reported these investments were already profitable, up from 35.1% in 2019.

There is a growing awareness of cyber risks among Singapore’s small businesses. Nearly four in ten (39.5%) reviewed their cybersecurity defences in the past six months and 36.5% expect the possibility of a cyber-attack on their business this year, up from 29.5% in 2020.

“The focus on technology is one factor that should support the recovery and long-term growth of Singapore’s small businesses. Contributing to this positive trend is Singapore’s excellent technology infrastructure and support for digital adoption given by the government to small businesses. Yet, with greater digitalisation, the risk of cyber-attacks increases. Managing cyber risks will help small businesses protect their operations and customers’ data, and importantly, build trust and reputation,” said Mr Loh.

The annual survey polled 4,227 small businesses in 11 Asia-Pacific markets, with 307 respondents from Singapore.

CPA Australia recommends Singapore small businesses consider the following measures:

  • Consult a trusted professional adviser to improve recovery and growth prospects.
  • Innovate to ensure business remains competitive.
  • Improve internal cashflow management to reduce reliance on external financing.
  • Incorporate technology into business operations.
  • Make cyber-security a focus.

Want to retire in Thailand? Here is how much savings you need

Retiring in Singapore is three times more expensive.

Tricia Ang | 24 March 2021

Photo by @evankrause_ on Unsplash

Are you thinking about retiring to Thailand in the future? According to a new study on the cost of retirement around the world, one needs to save up about 11 million Baht in Savings (Approximately USD$390,000).

The study, The Cost of a Comfortable Retirement Around the World, was carried out by online lender NetCredit. It looked at how much one needs to save up to retire overseas and enjoy the same quality of life. 

This quality of life was determined  to be: renting a 1 bed apartment in a city centre, eating mainly Western food at home, going out once a week, takeout coffee once a week, no smoking, moderate drinking, no taxis or rideshares and two vacations yearly, amongst other factors.

The retirement figures are based on the assumption that one is living for about 14 years after they retire, with the average age of retirement in America (64) and the average life expectancy (78.7). The same calculations were then applied to almost every country. 

May be an image of map and text
Photo from NetCredit

The study concluded that a retired person in Thailand needs $389,835 in saving to uphold the same living standard in the America. In Thailand, the amount of savings needed to retire comfort was significantly lower than in the United Kingdom ($515,742) and the USA ($601,489.63).

South-East Asia is the top most affordable destination for retirement in the region, more cost friendly options for Thailand are Indonesia ($290,599), Malaysia ($321,614), Vietnam ($353,906) and the Philippines ($369,340), whereas Cambodia’s retirement savings ($389,146) are similar.

For those who are looking to retire in a more urban city such as Singapore ($946,993) or Hong Kong ($871,578), almost three times of the amount of savings is required, in comparison with Thailand.

After looking at the retirement amount comparisons, which country would you like to retire to?

Survey findings: Singapore is among 10 most desirable countries to work in


Fewer Singaporeans want to work abroad due to Covid-19

Tricia Ang | 19 March 2021

city skyline under white cloudy sky during daytime
Photo by @Paulina_art on Unsplash
  • Singapore is now the 8th most attractive country to relocate to among workers; Singapore was previously ranked 18th in 2018 and 24th in 2014
  • Other countries in the top 10 include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States
  • Survey findings also revealed that substantially fewer Singaporeans (44%) want to work overseas, down from 70% in 2018 and 79% in 2014

In light of the management of the Covid-19 situation, Singapore has jumped to a top 10 spot for the first time as a desirable place to work, a study revealed. The study also revealed that much fewer Singaporeans want to work abroad now, as compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The findings were released on Monday (March 15) as part of a survey on workforce mobility around the world, done by employment matching firm Seek Asia and job marketplace JobStreet.

With the help of recruitment company The Network and management consulting company Boston Consulting Group, a total of 208,807 people were polled across more than 190 countries. 

Among the participants, 6,280 were from Singapore, with the majority being citizens. The participants have a diversity of work backgrounds, including industries such as retail, finance and tech.

Singapore is now the 8th most attractive country to relocate to among workers; Singapore was previously ranked 18th in 2018 and 24th in 2014. Other countries in the top 10 include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.

Those who expressed interest to work in Singapore came mainly from China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Switzerland — the only European city in the top 10 list among the origin countries.

JobStreet said in its press release: “Beyond commendable Covid-19 preparedness and response, Singapore has always been an appealing work destination for global talent. Other than robust international trade and investment, her digital infrastructure, national stability and culture of innovation also inspire confidence. 

“The top 10 countries from where PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians), specifically in the digital field, would like to (go) to Singapore to work include China (fifth), Qatar (sixth), United Arab Emirates (eighth) and Switzerland (10th). These talents enjoy a high quality of life, and Singapore’s standard of living and working matches their home countries.”

Survey findings also revealed that substantially fewer Singaporeans (44%) want to work overseas, a sharp drop from the 70% in 2018 and 79% in 2014

It was found that participants in Singapore, working in the media and information industry were the most willing to move overseas and work abroad, with 72% of those surveyed indicating they would do so. 

The study also found that Australia still remains the top destination where Singaporeans would like to work, mostly due to the favourable work-life balance in the country and that it Australia has a multicultural society. Other favourable countries include China and Taiwan, which took the second and third positions respectively.

Countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States, which were the second and third most popular destinations in 2018, fell and were found to be less popular in the 2020 survey.

This data suggests that Singaporeans are also more willing to work in countries that have emerged as role models where Covid-19 management is concerned, JobStreet said.

A comparison of the top 10 desired work destinations in 2014, 2018 and 2020

A comparison of the top 10 desired work destinations in 2014, 2018 and 2020.
Photo from Jobstreet

Among the top countries that Singaporeans would look to for remote work are Australia, China and the United States.

Conversely, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand were among the top countries where employers there said that they would consider Singaporeans for remote employment.

Source: Today Online

McKinsey study reports: Post-pandemic economy to press 107M workers to switch occupations


One in 16, will need to find a different occupation by 2030 in our post-COVID-19 scenario

Tricia Ang | 19 March 2021

Image by @juvx on Unsplash

As the rate of coronavirus vaccination increases, global economic growth will rise by 5.5 per cent this year, after slipping by 3.5 per cent in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund.

But businesses and staff would definitely continue to make substantial post-pandemic changes for the rest of the decade, McKinsey stated.

“The pandemic has, for the first time, elevated the importance of the physical dimension of work,” according to McKinsey, which studied the extent to which several “work arenas” can operate without a loss of productivity or effectiveness.

McKinsey awarded a high “physical proximity score” to medical and personal care, such as gyms and hair salons, and a low score for transportation of products and outdoor production and maintenance, such as farming and construction.

“COVID-19 may propel faster adoption of automation and AI, especially in work arenas with high physical proximity,” researchers said.

Key statistics:

  • In a computer centric work environment, 70% of time could be spent working remotely without losing effectiveness, compared to most other environments, where only 5% to 10% of work can be done remotely
  • A global McKinsey study reported that during the recovery from the global pandemic,  two out of three senior executives plan to increase investment in automation and artificial intelligence (AI), while 107 million workers in eight countries may need to change occupations by 2030
  • Office space could be reduced by 30% on average if 20% to 25% of the workforce in advanced economies could work from home between three to five days per week. This could possibly decrease demand for public transportation and downtown restaurants and retailers

According to McKinsey, several businesses in this pandemic have used automation to slash ‘workplace density’ by speeding up adoption of robots, hospitals and Hotels have picked up delivery robots, and stores replacing cashiers with self-checkout kiosks.

Companies will undoubtedly intensify the automation of “customer service and computer based work environments,” which may lead to a seven to eight percentage point spike in the number of staff being replaced.

More than half of low-wage employees in declining jobs are going to have to migrate into better paid jobs with different qualifications, said McKinsey.  Healthcare, transportation, science, technology, engineering and math will give a growing portion of employment opportunities, while retailing, hospitality, food service, production work  and office support provide a lowered share of employment.

“Across the eight focus countries, 107 million workers, or one in 16, will need to find a different occupation by 2030 in our post-COVID-19 scenario,” McKinsey said. Researchers focused on China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Spain, the U.K. and U.S.

“Remote work and virtual meetings are likely to continue, albeit less intensely than at the pandemic’s peak, with knock-on effects for real estate, business travel and urban centers,” McKinsey said. “Employers and employees who can work from home agree that remote work—at least for part of the workweek—is here to stay.”

Companies will likely reduce business travel by 20% compared with pre-pandemic levels, the study found, which would have “a significant knock-on effect on employment in commercial aerospace and airports, hospitality and food service.”

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