If there’s one heavily regulated industry, it’s finance and banking. The regulations are here for a good reason: to make sure that the flow of money is safe and effective. However, the need to follow these rules means that laissez-faire is not an option; instead, all tasks must be strictly defined and formulated into clear-cut processes.

And where there are processes, there are automation opportunities.

The banking industry is starting to recognize the potential automation holds: according to Gartner, 80% of finance leaders are planning to implement RPA (Robotic Process Automation) or have already done that. Should you do the same?

In this article, we’ll help you find the answer. We’ll discuss the most pressing challenges the finance sector is facing, cover the processes you can automate, and see what RPA for banking can give your business. As a bonus, we’ve thrown in a couple of RPA success stories from the banking industry.

Banking and finance — current challenges

The first step to understanding the benefits of RPA for finance is to take a look at the main pain points in the industry.

The main challenges facing banking and finance sector

Unstructured data

Documents and records used in banking workflows are diverse and come both in a digital and paper format. Credit reports, emails, contracts, trade agreements, KYC documentation, forms… Verifying and extracting data from these documents takes a lot of time which could be spent on other tasks.

Multiple application layers and legacy software

Implementing automation

This one may seem to go against the point of this article but let’s be honest: despite their high adoption rate and unquestionable usefulness of automated solutions, implementing most of them isn’t easy. And it gets even more difficult if you try to deploy a diverse range of attended, unattended, and hybrid models.

Customer experience

Customer service, onboarding, and advising are crucial but time-consuming. Even though some stages of these workflows are simple and tedious, they are still usually performed by highly trained financial experts. Taking this burden off their shoulders would allow these professionals to put their time and skills to better use.

Regulatory compliance

Failing to comply with regulations such as CECL, SOC2, or SEC carries the risk of severe financial penalties. On average, organizations lose $4 million in a single non-compliance event. Even worse, such an event compromises your company’s reputation—and in banking, trust is everything.

Data security

Seeing how customer data is particularly sensitive in banking, its safety shouldn’t rely on human intuition or manual processes. In reality, it often does, which makes breaches and fraud more likely due to simple human errors.

Recruitment and staff retention

With society-wide phenomena such as quiet quitting or great resignation, finding qualified hires becomes a true challenge. It also means that retaining valued employees is even more important than before.

Operational inefficiencies

As we’ve mentioned above, many processes in banking are still performed manually. Tasks such as e-KYC mandate verification or manual loan initiation can take up to weeks and are prone to errors, so even a small improvement can go a long way.

Best banking processes to automate

Now that we know the problems, let’s talk about solutions. What processes can you automate to address the challenges raised above?

What banking processes to automate?

Data extraction and document processing

In a perfect world, all documents required for banking processes would be standardized. In reality, only some of them, like customer IDs, spreadsheets, or user details are. Emails, invoices, transcripts, salary statements, registration certificates, and many more documents are semi-structured at best, which makes working with them much harder both for humans and machines.

Technologies such as OCR (optical character recognition) or UiPath’s Document Understanding allow RPA bots to efficiently scan financial records regardless of the format. Then, the bots extract and validate the details relevant to a particular process, fast and without errors.

Compliance management

To ensure compliance, banks make use of internal and external data stored in various sources. With RPA, gathering this data becomes much faster and more cost-effective.

RPA bots can also boost the safety of vulnerable data such as clients’ personal details with automated authorization and access permission granting. Any operations on this data are monitored and reported to prevent privacy policy violations.

A major challenge in compliance management is following and adapting to the ever-changing regulations. Here RPA also provides a solution with regulatory monitoring and alerts sent when an update is announced.

Mortgage and loan processing

Loan processing is a long, multi-step process that includes employment verification, credit checks, or underwriting. No wonder closing the process takes 45 to 60 days on average.

RPA can dramatically reduce that time by automatically extracting client info from documents, preparing due diligence, assessing credit scores based on pre-established rules, or entering data. Thanks to that, your agents can process applications faster and with fewer errors. Some companies that implemented UiPath RPA report agent productivity increases of even 70%.

Customer-facing processes

Customer-focused workflows involve huge volumes of data that need to be collected, verified, and entered. Couple that with account setup, customer service, and analytics, and you get hundreds of hours dedicated to repeatable, mundane tasks.

RPA frees up your staff to work on tasks that are more interesting, develop their skills, or seek improvements and opportunities for their organization. When Blue Prism asked finance workers what activities they could focus on if 50% of their current work was automated, 51% answered “use data analytics to uncover problems in processes.” 28% would try to “identify the next products and services customers will want to buy.”

At the same time, customers enjoy faster and more accurate case resolutions. Lastly, RPA allows you to tap into your data and get clearer client insights.

Know your customer (KYC)

Since banks spend over $384 million each year on KYC compliance, it makes sense that they would seek ways to increase efficiency and decrease spending.

Automation is one such way. Faster data extraction, error-free verification, automated alerts, and case forwarding — all that allow banks to cut costs while improving security. To top it off, KYC automation solutions are relatively simple to implement and shouldn’t disrupt the existing systems, making them one of the best implementation candidates.

Anti-money laundering

RPA can assist your employees at multiple stages of the AML workflow. During onboarding, bots will automatically compile customer data, collect watchlists from third parties, and compare them to identify fraudsters.

RPA will also monitor all transactions in real-time and alerts you when it detects any anomalies. All ambiguous tasks are relayed to your specialists for review.

Another data-intensive task in AML is Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) generation. RPA records all activity data and creates safety reports on demand. These can then be used for further risk assessment. Overall, the usage of RPA in AML processes can lead to a 40% effort reduction.

Account closure

Inactive and non-compliant client records generate unnecessary costs and negatively impact business efficiency. To prevent that, banks must constantly check their clients’ account statuses and remove redundant records from all their systems.

RPA empowers banks’ tracking capabilities, quickly identifying inactive accounts. The script can also be pre-programmed to automatically send notifications to remind clients to submit the documents required for compliance.

RPA for banking — the benefits

When implemented properly, automation has a positive effect on the entire organization. Some of the benefits of RPA in finance are:

What can your finance organization achieve with RPA?
  • Time and money savings — RPA performs repetitive tasks faster and more efficiently than humans, reducing costs and FTEs necessary.
  • Fewer errors and better compliance — Bots don’t get tired or distracted, which brings the margin of error to near zero.
  • Higher employee satisfaction — With mundane chores taken care of, your employees can focus on self-development and tasks they were trained for.
  • Improved peak workloads — Robotic workforce helps finance companies navigate heavy closure-time workloads.
  • Better customer experience — Faster and more accurate service means satisfied customers.
  • Painless implementation — RPA systems are easier to deploy than other automation solutions and integrate smoothly with the existing systems.
  • Enhanced auditing — Automated tracking grants you a higher degree of visibility and insight into your operations.
  • Leveraging data — The processing capabilities of RPA give you the opportunity to grow and take advantage of bulks of legacy data.

RPA in finance — use cases

Many companies in the finance sector are already reaping the benefits of automation. Here are two of them that lead the way.

Paramount Residential Mortgage Group

For PRMG, a mortgage bank from California, the challenge was to find a solution that would allow them to scale up the throughput and meet the sudden spike in demand.

Using UiPath’s RPA platform, automation experts from Flobotics facilitated the distribution of disclosure and closing packages, as well as the interoperability of PRMG’s systems.

The results? 50% more underwrites per specialist each day, about 40 working hours saved daily, and $2 million saved each year.

T-Bank

Based in Texas, T-Bank needed a way to allow business owners to quickly apply for a COVID-19 relief funding program.

Despite the application, and website being available only shortly, and even then constantly crashing, Flobotics’ RPA algorithm managed to make the signup pcrocess significantly faster by pulling data from a file and pasting it into loan forms.

How much faster? Before the RPA was implemented, the whole process took 10-15 minutes. After that, it went down to just 6 seconds!

Conclusion

To overcome old and new challenges in a sector as dynamic as finance, adopting new solutions is a must. Banks and institutions are already doing that. Now it’s your turn to join them.

To do so, you’ll need a reliable partner. You know all about banking, and we know all about automation — reach out to us, and let’s team up to get your finance business started on its road to innovation through RPA.

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Filip Nasiadko

Filip Nasiadko

CEO and co-founder at Flobotics. Sales expert with a track record of driving revenue growth and process automation evangelist.

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