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Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for Financial Services

Operating a business in the financial services industry has never been an easy game. Now more than ever, the financial services industry is faced with challenges far more significant. Challenges like intense competition, technology disruption, cybersecurity, stricter regulation, compression in fees and greater transparency, not to mention the considerable market volatility and uncertainty.

To combat these challenges, financial services firms can no longer just speed up their back-office operations. Being innovative is more than just updating systems, optimising processes and improving efficiencies. To keep up with these challenges, they have to go one step further. They have to innovate and become an innovative organisation.

In their quest for innovation and digital transformation, financial services organisations have also established themselves as early adopters of next-generation technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

But for now, let’s talk about Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

So what is RPA?

Robotic process automation or RPA is an approach and method that replicates human activity to reduce or eliminate the requirement for human intervention. RPA implementation is the most prevalent solution when tasks are mundane, repetitive or prone to human error.

There are two types of RPA implementation. The first type is Attended Robots, where portions of the tasks are automated, and the control is returned to the user, the second is Unattended Robots, where the automation processes the job end-to-end and outputs the result without human intervention.

How is RPA different from other enterprise automation tools?

In contrast to traditional technology solutions, RPA allows organisations to add robots or workers to automation tasks at a fraction of the cost and time previously required by other enterprise automation tools. RPA is also unintrusive, as it mimics the actions and activities of the user, typically on their behalf; therefore, adding direct productivity gains only where needed.

  • Fast benefit realisation
  • Minimal upfront investment
  • No disruption to existing enterprise infrastructure or systems
  • Led by the business with support from IT
  • Highly scalable and adaptable

“RPA is another step in the evolution of business processes. It is the next logical step to significantly reduce the requirement for employees to perform rules-based, high-volume activities. Instead, RPA enables employees to focus on more strategic tasks that help the business — and the beauty of it all is that many organizations are just beginning to explore the use of RPA in different scenarios and situations.”

– The New Frontier of Automation: Enterprise RPA, a Forrester Consulting Study (December 2017)

What are the driving factors for RPA in a financial services organisation?

Productivity is the most crucial driving factor behind RPA. With so many tasks within a financial services organisation such as reporting, data gathering and financial analysis, RPA is ideally suited to removing the mundane, repetitive tasks and allowing users to work on creative and strategic analysis.

A perfect example: Portfolio managers an asset management company send multiple computer-generated excel spreadsheets to marketing, the marketing team gather specific performance numbers from multiple parts of the document and input that into the company website and also again into a document that was company branded, which was then exported into a PDF and uploaded into the company website. This is a recurring task happening every month x 13 reports and would take up 60% of 2 staff members’ day x 3 days per month.

Research shows that staff can spend as much as 40% of their time on non-value-adding, data-intensive, repetitive tasks, leaving them with limited time to focus on higher-value, customer-focused activities. With each repetitive task, such as data entry, copy and paste, move/file, upload or email, can be automated. With RPA combining user interface recognition and workflow execution, RPA presents a great opportunity for financial services organisations to reduce task handling times and automate manual, repetitive processes.

Great Minds’ Approach to Robotic Process Automation

As with every Great Minds project, strategy comes first. Our approach isn’t always a single task. We always take a few steps back and look at the foundations.

We have found RPA to be most effective when automating routine processes such as:

  • Data Manipulation: Validation, Structuring, Reporting
  • Data Entry: Website scraping, Spreadsheet scraping
  • Email: Sending, Receiving, Validating
  • Reports: Uploading, Exporting, Downloading
  • Files: Downloading, Uploading, Moving, Emailing, Alerting
  • and much more…

Our RPA implementation approach is split into 8 pillars:

  1. Workshop: Meeting with senior management/c-suite to understand the challenge.
  2. Discovery: Collaborating and partnering with affected staff to discover all pieces of the puzzle.
  3. Recommendation: Presenting recommendation to senior management/c-suite
  4. Assessment: Selecting the right candidate process, tools and environment for deployment
  5. Proof of Concept: RPA in a test environment to prove the business case
  6. Design, Build and Implement: Implement the RPA workers in a production environment and start automation
  7. Benefits realisation & roadmap: Confirm success and align strategy for future add, remove, and modify tasks
  8. Manage and Improve: Ongoing training, QA and optimisation