Data & Automation in Financial Services

Chelsea Apps

Oh no!You know that feeling? You know,that one,when you open the washing machinedoorandyourwhite bed sheets are pink?The feeling whenyourealise that you just took everything out of your laundry basket and put it in the washing machine because you were in a rush. The one that wishes you had checked for red socks before committing? That one!

Well, that feeling (x1000) is why many financial services companies are rapidly turning to process automation and why global research firm Gartner estimates that 60 percent of organisations with annual revenueover$1 billion will have deployed robotic process automation(RPA)tools by the end of thisyearandwhyDeloitteestimates universal adoption of RPA in 5 years’ time.

Hang on,haven’t we spent the last ten yearsautomating and optimising?

Well,yes. The idea of business process automation isn’t new.Robots have assisted with car manufacturing since the 1960s, Mail-Merge became a feature of word processing in the 1980s,self-service checkoutshave been in supermarkets for 20 yearsandof courseSiri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant have come into our lives more recently.Each of these has automated the mundane and repetitive steps in a process to save time and improve productivity. But it’s not enough.

This kind of incremental productivity improvement isn’t enough to maintain a competitive advantage in 2018. In the past, companies could make efficiency savings by simply consolidating their complex, repetitive business operations and moving the process to an offshore team. Today, businesses are under intense pressure to transform their operations and improve their productivity much faster and more sustainably than ever.

This pressure is particularly true for banks,insurers and investmentcompanies.These industrieshave applied lean processes and made significant cost savings as the pressures of the global financial crisis has piled the pressure on margins. Just as they were getting to grips with underlying inefficiencies, seniormanagersare now facedwithnavigatingthe disruptive pressures fromFintechs,fromdigitally savvy customers andfromburgeoning regulatory and compliance requirements. So, what can they do?


Robotic process automation usessoftwaretomanage the tedious, repetitive (and seeminglyendless)rules-basedtasks currently performedbymillions ofemployees. It’s particularly helpful in financial services companieswhichhave highly complex, regulated processes, wheredataisscattered across legacy and third-party systems.

Abig benefit of RPA is that is doesn’t need significant IT investment tooverhaul underlyingtechnologysystems. The botworkswith yourexisting IT system, logging on and imitating a human employee.Management consultantsMcKinseydescribe the process nicely:The robot has a user ID just like a person and can perform rules-based tasks such as accessing email and systems, performing calculations, creating documents and reports, and checking files.

What can RPA do for me?

Insteadofspending hoursendlessly pressingControl + C, Control + Tab, Control V, your RPAbotcan complete the task faster, with100% accuracyand 24/7.

For retail bank CTOs looking at their slow-moving legacy back-end IT systems and comparing them despairingly to the nimble systems ofMillennial favourites,Monzo, Starling and N26, RPA offers an exciting opportunity.OdedKarev,vice president of advanced process automationat NICE sums it up: “For big legacy providers that have been buying computers since the 1970s, RPAfitsbest.It means they can speed up process and automate areas of the business without rebuilding theirentire system.”

KPMGresearch tells us that RPA can cut costs for financial services firms by up to 75%. Processes related toAnti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC)areboth regulationanddata-intensive processes. Much of the processing isrepetitive, replicable, and routine;characteristics which make them excellent candidates forRPA.

According to Raja Subramanian, at tech services companyXchanging, bots processing insurance-related tasks can clear more than 30,000 cases a month, reducing processing time from five minutes to less than ten seconds.As humans typically make as many as 10 errors in each 100-stepprocess,automating some of these error-prone tasks,financial servicecompanies can resteasierthat theyaredeliveringregulatory compliance.What’s more,people who work with bots love them.

When you readresearch byNICEthatshows that 80% of worker hours are spent on dull and unfulfilling tasks andthesurvey by online learning platformUdemy,which reportsthat 43% of workers are bored at work, it’s not a surprise that workers are happy for bots to do the bits of their jobs that they hate.

The next big thing in digital transformation

So, it’s little wonder thatasoftware-approach to process management that RPA offers is seen as the next big thing inthedigital transformation of financial services.Because bots are fast and 100% accurate, RPA can deliver both efficiency savings, improved complianceandbetter customer experience– all of whichdeliver commercial value.The icing on the cake (or the red sock out of the washing machine) is that, by automating repetitive tasksand putting them in the hands of bots,senior managers aregivingemployeespermissionto focusondeeperthinking andcreative workwhichultimatelyhelpsbusinessesto attractand retain their best people.

Want to talk about productivity and the role of automation in your own organisation?Contact us or drop by our Southbank office for a chat.