No doubt you have heard of robotic process automation (RPA) previously. RPA is used frequently in the business world, and we’ve written about it several times in recent months. We are discussing it again, but this time, we want to explore how it can specifically help the financial services industry.
As the name suggests, robotic process automation or RPA is a technology that allows us to execute a business process using automated tasks, aka robots, to emulate and integrate the actions of humans interacting with digital systems. Those systems can include everything from websites, desktop apps, databases, cloud and legacy platforms and so much more.
Over recent years, RPA has seen rapid growth – and this growth trajectory will continue in the future. In 2020, Gartner predicted the RPA market would see double-digit growth rates until at least 2024.1 And even this year, Forrester predicted the RPA software market will reach US$6.5 billion in 2025, up from US$3.6 billion in 2022.2
The benefits of RPA
RPA technologies significantly improve output quality, efficiency and employee satisfaction while reducing costs. For several years in a row, Deloitte’s annual global automation survey found RPA delivered benefits including improved compliance, quality/accuracy and productivity, among other things.3,4
By evaluating tasks as part of the RPA process, businesses can eliminate unnecessary steps, resulting in greater efficiency. And, while there is much debate about RPA replacing humans, this simply isn’t the case. RPA frees up a human’s time and energy so that this can be directed towards more meaningful work that bots cannot do; such tasks may involve relationship building, knowledge sharing, creative thinking, planning, problem-solving, upskilling and/or critical decision-making. RPA essentially allows humans to be humans.
In the long run, RPA delivers a high return on investment, enables process standardisation, and allows for business continuity support and better use of the human workforce, and higher scalability. The latter is particularly important in case of unforeseen events like pandemics or natural disasters, which can prompt an exponential increase in repetitive tasks and an influx of calls and requests.
TAS has experienced many of these benefits first-hand. We have saved thousands (yes, thousands) of hours per annum by automating processes across teams such as Operations, Corporate Finance, IT Support, and Customer Success. We believe in the value RPA delivers and want our clients to experience similar success.
How does RPA apply in the financial services industry?
Essentially, RPA bots can replicate what a human does when interacting with computers and digital systems. As the finance sector is known for its many highly repetitive and very well-documented processes, the benefits of implementing RPA in the financial services industry are significant.
Companies think about reducing costs and reallocating their human workforce all the time, either by outsourcing their processes or upgrading and overhauling their systems. While the former option is effective in reducing costs, processing financial data overseas generally poses a data compliance risk. The latter, on the other hand, could take months to implement and could prove expensive.
With RPA, financial institutions can immediately automate straightforward processes like manual data entry, producing compliance reports, generating arrears/direct debit default letters and notifying customers, and data consolidation from multiple applications, or more complex processes like automating invoice processing and feeding invoice data into relevant systems.
Some of our clients have also found post-end-of-month automation very helpful, liberating their employees from tedious, routine tasks related to reporting.
RPA in action, delivering results
Here are some real-world examples of how RPA can deliver productivity gains, quality improvements, increased staff satisfaction and greater efficiency to financial services organisations.
Use case #1
The challenge: Pre-automation, our client had to have a dedicated finance staff member work after hours on the last day of the month, to wait for prerequisite jobs to finish, which could occur anytime from 11pm to the early hours of the morning. The staff then had to manually execute over 40 reports in the system. The process was tedious, painful and not very enjoyable for the staff member!
The solution: We assessed the suitability of using RPA to automate the reporting process and determined that it could be done. Following the successful implementation of that first phase, the customer’s finance team requested more automation for data reports for in-depth compliance which they could not run regularly.
According to the team, “Not only was the manual process time-consuming, but the next day on the first day of the month when we had lots to do, we were tired after not getting full night’s sleep. So on a personal level, being able to go to sleep and having [the reports] all there in the morning has been fantastic.”
Use case #2
The challenge: Before automation, a banking operations team member needed to manually execute four different processes in a day, including sending BPAY files to other finance institutions such as Cuscal, and notifying members of overdraft and direct debit failures. Given the tasks needed to be executed at four specific and different times of day, it could sometimes be very stressful for the staff member.
The solution: TAS assessed the processes and successfully automated them. The automation has also positively impacted other parts of the customer organisation; the output of these automated processes will be fed into another type of automation, making the whole process hands-free for staff. The deployed processes are replicable and scalable so that they can be applied to other customers as well.
“It has definitely allowed us to put the time towards other tasks,” said the team. “[The original processes] took some time and it’s been great not having to run them each day.”
How to implement RPA successfully
At TAS, we have built a practical framework and approach that we offer our clients to help them successfully implement RPA. Our clients can leverage our knowledge, expertise and infrastructure all at once to enhance their business and operational performance with RPA.
Our approach can be boiled down to three simple questions:
What can I do today?
Create a list of some tedious, repetitive tasks that you or your team perform daily/weekly/monthly.
What can I do in next two weeks?
Nominate a process improvement champion in each team and ask them to create their own list of processes to automate. Then, run some focused workshops with the process improvement champions and select two or three highly repetitive processes that will not change for the next six or 12 months. Ideally, the processes should be time-consuming, high-volume, repetitive and rule-based. After that, contact your TAS Customer Success Manager and log the process ideas on the TAS portal and attach any existing document(s) or process video(s).
What can I do after that?
While TAS reviews your ideas for automation suitability and provides you a quotation, gather as much additional information as you can about the selected processes and add them into a procedure document. Record various process scenarios by using a desktop video recorder or Teams/Zoom meeting recorder. And of course, keep the automation ideas flowing.
Start a conversation with us to find out more about how RPA can be applied in your organisation to enhance business operations and produce positive outcomes.