Robotic Process Automation Brings Order to Compliance Chaos

Cindy Morgan-Olson, Head of Global PR and Analyst Relations

When​ many first hear the idea of “Robotic Process Automation”, they may first think of workforce reduction in terms of simply needing fewer headcount. In fact, that may not always be the goal – when applied to the world of risk and compliance, robotic process automation (RPA), which refers to logic-driven software tools that apply rules to data, is actually more unique and sophisticated than that.

While some of that workforce reduction view may hold true in manufacturing types of jobs involving actual “robots”, RPA in the world of organizational risk and compliance represents a very different scenario. It should not invoke images of white Androids moving down an assembly line or even a Blade Runner view of the future. Instead, RPA is an important innovation that can be the difference between a smooth, efficient compliance operational process and one that is fraught with mundane and manual tasks that overwhelm investigators, unnecessary errors and in the end, poor compliance best practices.

RPA lends a whole new definition to the phrase “multi-tasking.” It’s constantly working to help analysts and investigators get data that they can review and act upon more quickly than if they were going it alone – without robotics.

In many organizations, case management serves as the glue between many functions to provide a single view of a customer, such as with anti-money laundering and trade surveillance processes. Adding RPA into a case management solution will allow your compliance team to focus on more sophisticated levels of review and compliance management. These focused activities can also include the type of tasks that keeps regulators more satisfied with a firm’s risk and compliance strategy.

What is the business case for adopting robotic process automation?

So let’s get down to value. What is the business case for adopting robotic process automation? There is a ton of research available that shows why this is the wave of the future across most compliance and case management solutions. Whole new business practices are emerging to address how to work RPA into operations across many types of applications, particularly in financial crime and compliance specialties.

Let’s look at the data. The motivation to increase the efficiency in financial crime investigations is strong. According to a report by PwC, more than 45 per cent of work activities can be automated, and that automation can save up to $2 trillion in global workforce costs. (Where’s my calculator!) In more practical terms for financial institutions, what does this actually mean?

A recent NICE Actimize survey actually showed that 87 percent of organizations believed that their organization’s financial crime risk management systems were inefficient, with investigators spending significant time on manual tasks.

Fortunately, the report said, investigations are “fertile ground” for automation since it involves many manual, rules-based tasks that lend themselves to robotic-driven tools rather than human oversight. RPA may be used to manage data acquisition; consolidation and analysis; alert ranking and prioritization; alert routing and investigator ‘nudging’; and even automated health checks. When combined with such techniques as streamlined regulatory filings, I think you can see how investigators are empowered and not actually “replaced”.

These examples are just a fraction of what a robotics strategy can do – and also keep in mind that automation is becoming a necessity for financial firms as they seek to balance out the costs of compliance with staffing and execution. Keep remembering that it isn’t the humans that are being​ eliminated, it is the time intensive tasks that these humans must deal with that are eliminated or reduced. And all while boosting overall productivity, quality control and investigation results overall.

The benefits of robotics process automation are coming to us quickly – so the first step in your planning should be to develop a business case for your particular situation that addresses potential efficiencies and cost savings. Dig into where your investigators are spending most of their time, and look for ways to streamline your operations and reduce risk through automation strategies.

We don’t promise to send an actual robot to your institution, but we think our tools and automation strategies are just what are needed in this day of complex investigations and regulations and burgeoning tasks – our “robots” mean less time spent on the mundane and more time paying attention to factors that create risk for your organization.


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