The Association for Financial Professionals Annual Conference in Boston - AFP2019 Soundbites

Rana el Kaliouby, Phd Presents on Emotional AI
Rana el Kaliouby, PhD Presents on Emotional AI

As I pour over the notes, materials and cards from last week’s AFP2019 Conference I have a sense of calm. No doubt we are in a tumultuous time of change in the accounting, finance and treasury (AFT) professions.

That could be upsetting, if the following wasn’t also happening. This change is being driven by the talent and energy of AFT professionals. We are literally creating our own future. I can’t imagine being more excited about what is on the horizon and the value it will create for our companies, economies and industry professionals. If I heard “mindset” once, I heard it 100 times last week. It is the biggest enabler and will be the biggest barrier to achieving finance transformation at our companies and professional transformation for AFT practitioners.

Below I capture 37 of the key themes from the conference in these short soundbites. All deserve much deeper scholarship and we look forward to being part of that discussion. But for now, I hope this adds insight to your work.

  1. Scorekeeping is essential, Business Partnering is value creating
  2. Perfect is out, pilot is in
  3. People eat process like culture eats strategy
  4. Historical reporting is an ancient science, prescriptive analytics is modern art
  5. Authenticity rocks, while fake news mocks
  6. Learning is living, complacency the opposite
  7. An ounce of retention is worth a pound of on boarding
  8. Never forget why you said “N0”, it might be time to say “YES”
  9. If optimism is a muscle that gets stronger with practice, what happens when pessimism is flexed more often?
  10. “Make your mess your message” - Advice Robin Robert’s mother gave her daughter on the power of Transparency and Authenticity
  11. Prepare to Analyze, don’t Prepare to analyze
  12. Replace Misinterpret with Understanding….From Disorder create Alignment …Eliminate Impairment by developing Agility
  13. Baton passing is old school, Thunderbird formation new school
  14. Traditional departments out, Center of Excellence in
  15. Many reports = confusion, Single source of truth = understanding
  16. Success comes with being effective, not necessarily efficient (what conference doesn’t have a tribute to Stephen Covey?)
  17. Faster is better
  18. A day of development is worth of a month of mistakes
  19. Don’t manage budgets and forecasts with carrots and sticks, but by how well they help us understand the business
  20. FP&A standard tools - spreadsheets and BI
  21. FP&A emerging tools – report automation, data visualization, Cloud, Mobile, RPA/AI/ML
  22. Agility tops stability
  23. Treasury in the rear-view mirror is a tactical cost center, Treasury through the windshield is a strategic value add center
  24. Yesterday’s AI = high IQ, Tomorrow’s AI = high IQ + high EQ (don’t believe it? Read this)
  25. Evidence of EQ in AI… people get emotionally attached to technology – would you dump your iphone for a droid?
  26. Yesterday’s AI = computer science + engineering, Tomorrow’s AI = humanities + liberal arts + computer science + engineering
  27. Yesterday brokers used to sell you insurance products from carriers, Now you design your own policy (big data, risk > $ 5 million) and buy it through a fund
  28. The Insurance market is innovating quicker than it takes it to settle an auto claim – find an expert!
  29. “Most budgeting is not only bad, its wrong.” - Steve Player
  30. To prepare for any situation, scenario plan the worst case and the best case. Your actual case will fall somewhere in between
  31. “The more you sweat in peace the less you bleed in war” - Various military leaders
  32. AI and ML aren’t the future, they are the now
  33. Mindset shift… move from a system of record approach to as system of intelligence approach
  34. For 30 years we have experienced global stability with one world power…China’s rise to power is beginning to impact that stability
  35. “The Rise of the Rest” 1970 15 nations made up global trade…1990 100 nations made up global trade while global real GDP has risen 47% in the past 20 years
  36. Combination of low cost capital and cheap labor is good for companies bad for workers.
  37. Workers have lost pricing power … which is the backdrop to the current global political and social story line.


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