Where to Start with RPA in Financial Services

by Balazs Fejes, SVP, Banking & Financial Services, EPAM Switzerland

July 20, 2017

Financial institutions are only beginning to scratch the surface with Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and much of the technology’s potential remains untapped. This is not to say that financial institutions are ignoring how RPA could significantly increase business productivity – rather, most organizations are still fuzzy on how the technology can be safely implemented and executed within their processes, but all of that is about to change.

Robotic Process Automation, simply put, is automation software that can mimic human action based on defined rules. The benefits of RPA are many and include increased productivity, saved time, less human error and cross-functional integration, just to name a few. Especially in industries where transaction volumes are high – such as the financial services industry – the virtualization of the workforce can create more efficient operations and streamline processes, so that employees can spend less time focusing on routine, menial tasks and more time on their higher-level responsibilities. What were once lengthy, time-consuming tasks become efficiently automated processes that allow organizations to become more agile in their everyday operations. Even the need for outsourcing can be eliminated as routine task administration can move in-house to automated systems – in effect, saving financial institutions millions of dollars.

Through the development of sophisticated, turnkey machine learning and cognitive tools that have acted as enablers for the viability of the technology, RPA has finally become reliable and powerful enough to ensure cost-effectiveness and relevance for financial institutions. As a result, dozens of RPA vendors are popping up, eager to help you implement the technology in ways that could profoundly shape your business and its bottom line.

Past uncertainty is in the process of transforming into outright demand for RPA across the entire enterprise, and businesses are looking for the best place to start implementing the technology. Here are a few places where financial services institutions should think about implementing Robotic Process Automation:

  • Existing processes: RPA technology can streamline operations and cut costs, and a focus on integrating RPA with current infrastructures and processes ensures that the technology does not create an unwanted disruption in day-to-day operations, but rather improves the quality and efficiency of what already exists. A cost-first approach keeps efficiency at the forefront of the discussion while identifying opportunities for performance improvement.
  • High-volume, repeatable processes: Processes that require a lot of volume and repetition to get the job done are a great place to start with RPA. Look specifically at processes that have already been moved nearshore like payments, settlements and other manual tasks that are highly trainable.
  • Content-intensive processes: When it comes to copying content from one source to another, RPA is a great solution for automating the process. There are applications for taking many varieties of content from paper to computer, paper to system and even system to system to streamline the compilation of data.
  • Data-intensive processes: RPA can even be used to automate more sophisticated processes like quote generation by abstracting data from literally thousands of sources and making cognitive sense out of it. In many cases, the data doesn’t even have to structured.

Of course, emerging regulations are making the adoption of RPA more complicated, and organizations’ understanding of how these regulations address RPA technologies is often murky at best. Remember that any solution that is implemented must comply to the many rules and regulations that define their operations.

Soon enough, RPA will become embedded into the technology systems that financial institutions use every single day. RPA technology will no longer be a differentiator among competitors – it will be a necessity, a standard that all firms will need to follow to ensure their survival. As “workforce virtualization” becomes the norm, financial services firms will find themselves undergoing an evolution that not only increases efficiencies and cuts costs, but also lessens the data burden on employees and empowers them to perform at the highest level.