From Risk Officer to Change Driver: How Artificial Intelligence is Upskilling GRC

by Henner Schliebs

A recent study broke down how AI will impact each role within GRC, from tax examiner to treasurer.

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Finance executives are increasingly expected to master areas outside of their traditional skill set – most recently finding governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) become a part of their day-to-day mandate. More than a directive to protect the business from liability, GRC can be leveraged as a competitive edge to remain agile, improve transparency and enhance performance.

Knowing the price for failing to protect financial assets can be steep – leading to less credibility, harm to clients, and speculation in future reporting efforts – finance teams are now looking to machine learning and artificial intelligence across risk and compliance management to prevent major incidents. The technology can put an end to organizational charts and excel reviews, using language-based or rule-based software to automatically understand and evaluate texts and reports that fall within their field of their application.

A report from Hochschule fuer Technik und Wissenschaft Berlin, University of Applied Sciences, and SAP found the use of artificial intelligence will bring about massive changes to GRC. By automating payments, calculating risk and maintaining records, the study broke down how the technology will impact each role within GRC, from tax examiner to treasurer. Let’s explore:

  • Risk manager – The risk manager deals with a variety of hazards that influence the company's business goals; including interest, currency, and counterparty risks. With the rise of AI, risk managers’ tasks will predominantly shift to the data-based identification and interpretation of changes in risk exposure. This includes the ability to assess trends by exploring existing facts and applying cognitive skills to understand the analyses of large volumes of data.
  • Compliance manager – It is the task of the compliance manager to ensure adherence to statutory and internal standards, but with automated reports, the future responsibility of compliance managers goes one step further – identifying internal or external dangers as well as the management of cybercrime. This will require the ability to work nimbly and to solve problems autonomously.
  • Fraud examiner – According to the report, almost two thirds of participants (63 percent) stated that the role of the fraud examiner will shift dramatically as artificial intelligence becomes more prevalent. The main tasks will move from reviewing reports to performing fraud assessments and developing KPIs for avoiding future cases of fraud. 
  • Auditor – The auditor is responsible for preparing, performing, and following up on balance sheet and operational audits within a company. Interestingly, the majority of those surveyed (55 percent) assume that in five years the significance of this role will be roughly the same as the role today.
  • Treasury manager – Dealing with the procurement, management, and optimization of investment reserves require a high level of cognitive expertise as well as in-depth knowledge of the business model and of the company's strategic objectives. With AI, the treasury manager must build up new expertise to be able to utilize technology to monitor liquidity and risk management, to monitor and optimize cash flow streams, and to give recommendations to the executive board with regard to strategy development.

While many fear the wide spread use of automation will displace white-collar jobs, the technology is far more likely to be used as an augmentation tool. Overall, the study found it will significantly improve productivity and accelerate implementation of rudimentary financial tasks. It will impact almost every role within finance and GRC, and rather hiding behind fear, should motivate finance teams to further develop their methodological skills to keep pace with transformation. 

Henner Schliebs is Global Vice President ERP and Finance Solutions at SAP.