Finance system concept with bank and investment flat icons vector illustration

The banking industry has gone through huge business revolutions in the last five to six years — sees the Dodd-Frank Act — which have added even more weight to banks’ data and the urgency with which they manage that critical information. This brings up an important question: do you really know the size and cost of your data entry operations? An executive or bank operations manager can’t manage what he or she doesn’t know.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) allows banks and credit unions to scale their data entry operations without adding people, but to do so you must fully understand your financial institution’s data practices and challenges.

Let’s consider the day-to-day reality of operations staff. Rather than embrace a big-picture approach to data entry, operations teams are used to clocking in and clocking out and working in their assigned box in the meantime. Through no fault of their own, this go-with-the-flow approach can mask data inefficiencies in an institution.

If you’re like most, there’s self-data entry going on all over your financial institution. Once you understand the real cost of data entry, you’ll be way more interested in solving the problem and RPA is a great way to do so.

Trimming the Fat

A good idea is to establish a data “efficiency czar” or other similarly focused change agent to go across departmental boundaries and pursue efficiencies by eliminating manual processes. This should be done in such a way that the efficiency czar is not looking for people making mistakes, but rather researching ways to liberate personnel to be more of an asset to the bank.

Once areas of data deficiency and disorganization are recognized, RPA software can be used to save time, money and operational headaches. After department heads are trained on the robotic tool, they often spread its benefits around because it is easy to use and has wide-ranging applicability.

For example, a $3.5 billion asset bank and trust initially implemented RPA software to handle mass coding changes within its customer accounts. Its effectiveness and user-friendly design led to more and more uses for the “automated employee,” leading the bank to an estimated annual savings of more than $560,000 per year. As a result, the deposit services division of the financial institution did not need to expand during the time the financial institution tripled in size.

Seeing is Relieving

“The growth of an institution is only limited by the opportunity to see it,” Milam adds. “What’s better than liberating staff to be more proactive and seizing opportunities so you have more capital at the end of the year to invest and acquire new customers?”

At some point, growth is going to force you to be efficient. For example, a Pennsylvania financial institution will grow from $18 billion to $30 billion by the end of the next year, but its operations manager said he physically can’t accommodate the corresponding growth needed in staff. This is clearly a case where RPA is called for.

RPA vastly improves data operations while putting personnel in a better position to revamp how a bank manages customer relationships. When you enable your employees to proactively accomplish things, you clear the way for productivity and efficiency.