Should I worry about automation?

I've seen a lot of posts about people saying automation is overblown then others that say automation will hit hard in 20 or so years (specifically in non-STEM jobs.) I'm a bit worried about which jobs in finance will disappear or be largely cut down.

I'm interested in mainly IB to PE, Consulting to Corporate Strategy, or PWM as a career path, would I have to worry about any of these being automated in my lifetime if I'm currently in undergrad?

Would it be wiser to switch to a STEM degree to protect myself from automation in the future?

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Comments (8)

Dec 5, 2018

I can't tell if this is a very sophisticated troll post or an honest question...

Dec 5, 2018

Wish I was trolling but it seems like everyone's worried about automation right now, wondering if these fears should be taken seriously. I don't want to enter an industry only to be phased out in my 30s or 40s.

Dec 5, 2018

The sales-style roles seem to be here to stay. There will always be a need for people with contacts who can make deals happen.

However, the S&T side especially seems like it will shrink significantly from my admittedly limited experience. There's just a ton of work that is currently happening in Excel and the slow creep of automation will definitely impact those roles.

Dec 5, 2018

What about roles like IB, Consulting, Corporate Strategy/Dev, Private Equity or Private Wealth Management/Private Banking?

Dec 5, 2018

IB, PE etc. is predominantly a sales job at the upper levels. Contrary to popular belief the "modeling" is basically just an additional sales tactic. No one really knows what revenues/earnings/etc will be 4 years from now...but people want to see projections anyway.

I have no real knowledge of the rest of what you mentioned...but I do think corp strat/dev is as safe as any other F500 track

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Dec 5, 2018

Thanks for answering honestly so I owe you a heartfelt response.

Okay, buckle up for the real advice: you will have to continuously learn and reinvent yourself throughout your career, regardless of what industry you enter. The hard truth is that the working world is brutally Darwinian and there is not a single path you can take where you can realistically expect to rest on your laurels and be handsomely rewarded for it. Whether you're talking about technical skills or relationships, everything falls apart if left alone and not sharpened with diligent practice and attention. Steel yourself for the coming ultra-marathon of life where there will be trials and tribulations, friends and enemies along your path - and sometimes no path at all.

The best advice I can give you is to develop ironclad discipline. Enough discipline and hard work, with a dash of creativity and planning, can help you overcome most problems that will present themselves in your academic and professional life.

With respect to the careers you mentioned, they are all so different and truthfully all of them, including STEM jobs, are susceptible to automation. The best protection against automation that you could practically do is to aim to be among the top 20% of your chosen field. As an example, in wealth management, lower tier wealth managers may indeed be automated away, but high-touch, trusted advisors to high net worth individuals will always be value added. In coding, a lot of low-level coding will be automated and made efficient/redundant, or at the very least outsourced (you don't even need to know English to write code). However, high performing software architects, coders, data scientists etc. will continue to be employed.

What does this all mean for you, today?

  1. Dive into a wide variety of subjects that pique your interest and choose whichever you are most interested in by your sophomore/junior year.
  2. Study very hard and get very good grades. Professionally network, get internships or co-op positions, and go above and beyond what your peers are doing.
  3. Be social, make friends, have fun and develop meaningful extra-curricular passions that make you into a well rounded person. These will be talking points in literally every interview in the future, ever.

Every industry as we know it today is materially different than 20 years ago, and so it will be going forward as well. Be stoic in the face of challenges - read Marcus Aurelius. The future is wide open for you, face it not with fear but with preparation.

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Dec 5, 2018

Great response, thanks for responding. So as long as I aim to be the best in my field I should be able to overcome automation correct?

Also was wondering, do you believe we'll see any financial or business jobs talked about on this forum almost completely automated in our lifetimes? Surely it would take decades to automate something like consulting or other jobs that require face to face interaction right?

And secondly, are all jobs including STEM really susceptible to automation? I'd think that complicated jobs in tech would be safe.

Dec 6, 2018