Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has been a topic of discussions and has raised numerous questions lately. Many of my clients are unsure how to gauge the range RPA can address. The potential for cost savings and efficiencies is huge and the possibilities inherent in RPA seem to change on a weekly basis as the technology progresses. In the wealth management industry, it’s easy to jump to robo-advisors at the first mention of automation, but this leaves the application of robotics to every day operations largely undiscussed.

At its most basic, RPA is the use of software to ‘mimic’ the actions a human user would perform, at scale, to automate business processes. RPA is best suited for processes that are highly repetitive, rule-based and use structured data (e.g. asset transfers, debit balance clearing, reconciliations). When clients use RPA effectively, we have seen average handling times reduced by up to 40 percent and processing costs that could be up to 80 percent lower.

Take the example of pre-matching securities. An RPA could: recover the data from extracts; contact the client after pulling their information from another system; integrate the client’s response into a back office application; analyze the answer; and report the outcome to a back office agent. This is just one of the innumerable processes that can be automated to create a virtualized workforce.

Not only does RPA eliminate human error, it also brings 24/7 operation with no downtime. Bots can capture all details of the processes they perform and store them for potential auditing later. Combining Accenture’s comprehensive knowledge and experience from the financial service institutions with robotic process automation expertise, we could help our clients identify areas relevant for RPA and implement tailor made solutions with a quick turnaround.

Some clients worry they will have to make sweeping changes to their IT infrastructure to accommodate RPA, but that is in our experience not the case. RPA could sit alongside existing infrastructure, governed and controlled by IT. Because of this, no complex system integration is necessary; the robots interact with the system in the same way as a human user. By thinking big, starting small and scaling fast, most firms could also demonstrate rapid value via pilots, justifying larger rollouts with fewer roadblocks.

If you would like to discuss how to better identify the opportunities for RPA within your firm, email me, Kendra Thompson. I’d be delighted to make the time to have a more in-depth conversation.