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How to Leverage Automation in Retail Banking

Automation in retail banking is in high demand causing financial institutions to adopt new technologies to better serve their customers.
Jennifer Gustavson
August 4, 2022
4 min

By nature, banks are cautious. That’s part of the appeal for customers who trust financial institutions with their money and investments. That caution may explain why two-thirds of bank leaders say their institutions are in only the early stages of exploring automation, if at all. 

But there’s broad consensus that change is coming. Customers already expect banks to have mobile solutions for check deposits and account statements. Now they want faster and more convenient online transactions, and banks need to change to meet that demand. While automation is in its early stages for financial institutions, banks are considering collaboration with FinTech companies because 90 percent of executives say adoption will be essential or critical to the future success of their institutions.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can help banks improve their efficiency, reduce fraud, boost customer service and improve regulatory compliance. And it’s already a proven winner.

What is automation in retail banking?

Banks deal with reams of information. And humans sometimes make errors. Rather than have an employee spend minutes checking customer information, a bot can perform the exercise in seconds. Transferring these often-tedious tasks from human beings to bots allows for greater efficiency and enables workers to concentrate on value-add activities while ensuring the highest security standards are met. 

Retail banks can use automation anywhere there is a repetitive task to handle. Whether confirming a customer’s identity or filling out loan paperwork, there are efficiencies to be had – and customers who can be won over by digital transformation

What are the benefits of automation in retail banking?

1. Improves efficiency of business processes

Technology saves banks time and money. According to a recent study by Accenture, financial services companies in North America are estimated to save $140 billion by 2025 if they use new technologies to streamline their operations.

2. Enhances customer experiences

Customers don’t want to drive to a bank to complete mortgage paperwork. Customers expect to be able to do business at a time and place of their choosing. RPA makes much of that possible. That became abundantly clear during the pandemic when financial institutions were forced to shift more services online to accommodate customers.

3. Helps banks go paperless

Banks are overrun with storage needs for paper. Computer software creates virtually unlimited storage and no need for physical storage locations, paper shredders, or manual handling of documents. Digital solutions cut out cumbersome processes and allows organizations to go paperless.

4. Boosts agility within banks

Financial institutions can move much faster with business process automation. Loan applications, whether for a mortgage or a business, speed through the bank when trusted information is checked and rechecked rapidly. Problems are caught more quickly and banks can drive more customers through loan pipelines.

5. Mitigates cybersecurity threats and risk of breaches

Banks are using RPAs to run Know Your Customer identity checks, ensuring customers aren’t laundering money or financing terrorism through their accounts. Bots can help to ensure that people are who they claim to be. And they can ensure cybercriminals or hackers don’t threaten their institution, decreasing the risk of a security breach. 

6. Increases accuracy in mortgage account creation and credit advice

Process automation reduces false positives in customer risk profiles. Instead of using an external vendor for customer identification, banks use a software bot to handle the task, reducing time and costs while also increasing speed of service for customers. Bots can also track documents through the mortgage process and automatically send messages to customers asking them to finish incomplete forms or information.

7. Improves compliance monitoring

Government rules are often changing. RPAs help financial institutions stay on top of regulations while also performing mandatory ongoing transaction monitoring. An RPA can detect patterns and send alerts for potentially criminal behavior. 

6 key steps to leveraging automation in retail banking

1. Automate simple processes first

Change can be simple. Easy wins will help boost the credibility of RPAs. Consider starting with pilot programs for internal processes rather than customer-facing options.

2. Use the right automation technology tools

There are myriad options. Look for an RPA that’s tailored to the financial industry. And remember, not every process is suited to an RPA solution: If your toolbox only has a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail. 

3. Look at the big picture for your operating model redesign

Sometimes, repetitiveness isn’t the only problem inherent in banking tasks. Banks have already learned this lesson when it comes to customers opening a new account, for example. Yes, it’s a repetitive process, but the process itself is often too cumbersome. Bank leaders should consider whether the process can be streamlined before implementing an RPA.

4. Ensure non-technical employees are knowledgeable about automation

There’s often a concern that new technology will result in lost jobs. It’s important for bank leaders to emphasize that new technology represents an opportunity for employees, freeing them from recurring tasks and opening the door for career advancement. RPA implementation should allow for more staff versatility, and employees that understand the value of RPAs should be valued.

5. Centralize your organizational governance structure

Banks need a center-of-excellence type of governance structure to maintain RPAs. In this instance, a team of experts is needed to maintain the institution’s bots, making sure they’re aware of any system changes that might affect the performance of an RPA. Also, an RPA center of excellence should work across divisions because the bank would deploy bots to help customers complete applications, access account information, and more.

6. Utilize online notarization software

A historically manual job, notarization can be brought online using online notarization software. From signatures on mortgage applications to identity verification, an online notarization platform removes the need for an in-person notary to be available at all times. Implementing an online notarization platform such as Notarize can be done efficiently and seamlessly by embedding the offering into an institution’s existing website. Its ease of use and 24/7 availability can ultimately provide greater customer satisfaction while removing the need to have a physical notary available.

How Notarize helps retail banks automate their processes

The pandemic pushed many of our daily activities online and people still needed financial documents notarized. Lockdown rules made it difficult to find an in-person notary and that’s why online notarizations have become so popular. Even though today, people are gradually going back to their way of life, they still prefer to handle most of their transactions online.

With this type of demand, customers expect online services that work, and banks are turning to digital options like Notarize to provide seamless user experiences. 

As banks look to automate their processes, an online notarization platform can be a quick win. Notarize makes notarization a fast, easy, secure, and fully-digital experience. Schedule a demo to learn more about how Notarize can help your financial institution.

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Jennifer Gustavson

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