3 Key developments that will have a significant impact on the finance profession

Transunion CEO Lee Naik told Finance Indaba that finance professionals must work harder to stay relevant.

It cannot be overstated that times are tough in South Africa. Unemployment is at its highest level in history, more skilled people are looking to emigrate and most employees are spending more than 70 percent of their income to service debt.

TransUnion CEO Lee Naik told delegates at the Finance Indaba in Sandton that financial leaders must work to stay relevant now more than ever.

“When the retail market slows, when the transport market slows, your business slows. We’re trying to grow in a market that doesn’t want to buy,” says Lee.

But despite this slow growth, Lee says there are three key developments underway that will have a significant impact on the finance profession.

1. The connected world is here

“We’ve have had connectivity since the 2010 World Cup. For the first time we had a lot of connectivity surrounding Africa, we were connected to the west, North America and Europe. We also now have 5G internet, which is the next generation in wireless data technology, offering unprecedented speed in internet technology. Technology has already changed the way in which we interact with people.”

But Lee insists technology is not the problem, and finance professionals need to ‘endorse reimagination’ in their companies. “Right now there are about 25 million credit active users in the country, but to don’t need to see them physically to get to them,” says Lee.

2. There’s a new wave of data coming on board

Previously, salespeople would pitch their product to a customer, hoping and praying that they would buy. Now we have ‘customer 3.0’ who are taking back their power. They’re using Google to get information about the products they want before deciding to buy, all while avoiding salespeople.

Millennial customers also have zero sense of loyalty. “So in the world of finance, this trend is important, data gives us insight,” says Lee.

3. Robotic Process Automation

Robots are scary, and every day there are renewed fears of robots taking over. “By next year, in my business, 80 percent of everything I do will be automated,” says Lee. “These robots are here, and what we can’t do as finance is ignore that they are here.”

There are things that will always make human beings fundamentally inefficient, such as the need to use the toilet, hunger, the need to sleep or talk to friends and family – and business doesn’t end at 5pm anymore. Business is 24/7, in multiple markets and different time zones.

“If you have something that can be done 90 percent faster tomorrow, this is very hard to ignore. It frees you up to do different things, which is changing the game.”