How Automation Leads to More Meaningful Work in Financial Services

Jay Cherrie, Executive Advisor
October 19, 2021

In the financial services industry, it is common for employees to spend significant time on manual, repetitive tasks that need to be completed with high speed and accuracy. Complex processes like customer onboarding, mortgage lending, and customer service are filled with routine tasks like data entry, invoice processing, response tracking, and reminders. Automation frees employees from rote tasks that are better suited to simple bots, resulting in both financial and opportunity cost savings. 

You see, when focusing on repetitive, manual processing tasks, employees sacrifice their ability to perform more meaningful—and fulfilling—work. According to survey data from 500 senior banking and asset management executives, 98% of companies that are leaders in automation say none of their employees spend much time on these tasks, while 60% of companies whose automation efforts have failed say many of their employees spend a lot of time on them. Automation frees your employee’s minds to innovate, work on complex problems, and make nuanced judgments—all jobs best suited to the human brain. 

Here are some of the ways automation has given financial services employees the freedom to focus on higher value, more meaningful work: 

Automation makes compliance case analysts more efficient. Sathish Muthukrishnan, Chief Information, Data, and Digital Officer of the digital financial services company Ally, says, “Over 90% of anti-money laundering cases are false results, because there are a tremendous number of triggers. But they all need to be checked, and typically that means accessing multiple systems to collect the data needed to make a decision. As a first step in this space, we are automating the process of pulling that data together onto one screen.” Case analysts at Ally no longer spend time searching for data in many systems, so they are free to focus on more critical issues of fraud detection and prevention.  Of course, the opposite is also true:  analysts spending time researching false positives is a drag on efficiency as well as a suboptimal use of investigator talents.

Automation allows call center agents to focus on complex customer issues. Many large banks have adopted unifying workflow platforms to maximize the strengths of robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and human talents. These platforms fully automate the repetitive and mundane parts of their customers’ journeys, so their call center agents are devoted to solving complex issues, innovating, and building stronger client relationships. 

Automation implements new processes required by regulatory changes without much human support. Speed and agility have been crucial in the global pandemic, as banks in many countries were tasked with administering huge government-backed emergency loans and refinancing schemes, while simultaneously adapting to remote operations. Automation allows process changes to happen quickly and easily, without much human support—this keeps employees from having to divert their attention to implementing process changes in response to new regulatory requirements. 

Automation, on average, takes on 20% capacity of a full-time equivalent worker, according to a Deloitte survey. Imagine what your employees could do with 20% more time each day—that’s an extra eight hours per week, a full workday’s worth of time. 

Appian, in partnership with the Financial Times, has authored three research reports that explore more deeply the value leading financial services firms are gaining from automation. You can also take our Automation Benchmarking Assessment to find out how your organization’s automation maturity compares to industry leaders and for guidance on where to focus your automation efforts. 

automation maturity