The rise of robotics in financial services
The rise of robotics in financial services
The financial services sector has seen a rapid increase in the adoption of robot technology, with advancements in cognitive computing, robotics and 'smart machines' transforming and disrupting the finance and investment landscape.
Financial services organisations, AMP, ANZ and Westpac, are among a host of leading Australian financial institutions announcing plans to leverage robotics to automate time-consuming processes, allowing employees to redirect their focus to solving more complex problems.
The combination of high transaction volumes and increased regulation in the financial services industry puts pressure on an organisation's ability to streamline operations and ensure appropriate levels of control.
To address this, robotics is standardising tedious, manual tasks to deliver increased accuracy and control to employees across a range of financial services sectors, primarily including high-volume transaction processing, regulation and compliance, risk management and customer interaction management.
High-volume transaction processing
Financial services businesses are loaded with high-volume transaction processing functions, which often involve the management of customer instructions across a range of disparate systems.
Processes like mortgage origination, payment processing, know-your-customer, accounts payable, accounts receivable, policy administration and claims processing can benefit significantly from the use of robotics.
Robots can help to automate these high-volume processes, creating faster process turnaround times and increased accuracy.
Regulation and compliance
Through the use of robotics, regulation and compliance, firms will be able to review employees' disclosures regarding personal accounts and automatically examine account openings and paper statements - making employees' trades and transfer disclosures subject to immediate and appropriate levels of review.
Beyond this, robotics will offer these firms the ability to automate disclosure attestations and transfer disclosures, as well as reconcile employee reports - automatically picking up possible anomalies and potential issues.
Robotics will support risk management firms to identify and explain changes in risk exposure and determine data-related or business-related causes for such movement.
Furthermore, risk management firms can utilise robotics to evaluate credit limits and determine causes for breaches in such limits, automatically generating recommendations for remedial action.
Lengthy, time-consuming risk reports are also candidates for automation, providing firms with the ability to execute timely, accurate and comprehensive checks on data quality.
Customer interaction management
A new class of robot is emerging which is aimed at automating the interaction between the customer and financial services firm.
Commonly referred to as digital or virtual assistants, these next generation robots are cognitive systems that communicate in natural language with humans.
Not only can they answer questions, they can also anticipate user needs based on context, provide expert recommendations, or dynamically learn business rules or processes that are not explicitly programmed.
These new automation tools have widespread uses in the financial services sector, including helpdesk support, collections, product enquiry, claims processing and internal technology and HR service desks.
Banks, insurers and wealth managers have long been challenged to provide timely and cost-effective advice across their very broad range of customers and products.
The availability of new robo-advice technology changes this. Robo-advice uses automatic digital techniques to help customers select appropriate products for their circumstances.
For example, a robo-adviser could help a client select investments that match that their investment temperament and goals.
Workforce virtualisation through robotics has the potential to fundamentally change the way financial services firms address multiple areas of process execution, while reaping substantial business benefits.
The real deciding factor in the era of intelligence will be an organisation's ability to evolve its corporate culture to not only take advantage of emerging technologies like robotics, but also embrace new strategies driven by these technologies.
Those that fail to embrace robotics and workforce virtualisation will find themselves unable to compete in the faster, cheaper robo-world.
Mike Abel is the managing director in charge of Accenture's robotics and automation practice in the financial services division in Australia and New Zealand.
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