Robotic Process Automation – easing the regulatory burden

Faced with ever increasing regulatory change, already fatigued Compliance functions are taking the strain. Their response typically involves costly and time consuming system changes and/or throwing labour at manual workarounds. Compliance officers are challenged to find and retain suitably skilled staff and the cost of compliance increases relative to earnings while value is diminished as Compliance struggles to keep up, switching focus from strategic advice to urgent operational demands.

And there’s seemingly no end in sight. The head of financial stability at the Bank of England declared that 70,000 new full-time jobs would be needed in Europe alone to comply with new requirements, such as the Basel III rules for banks. With the demand on Compliance growing as the access to human resources slows, maybe its time for a radical rethink as to how regulatory change could be managed better.

FinTech (‘RegTech’) will play its role, and more specifically Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA is smart software that enables rules-based outcomes by autonomously logging on, capturing data and orchestrating various applications and systems. It is non-invasive – which means that it doesn’t require API enabled systems integration – and conducts high-volume repetitive tasks cheaper, faster and better than can human workers. And beyond the core benefits of cost efficiency, speed and accuracy, RPA can also deliver benefits specific to regulatory compliance:

  • Eases the burden of new regulations – freeing up the Compliance function to provide strategic advice and oversight roles that require human judgment
  • Relieves change fatigue – by using software robots rather than human workers to take on the extra workload of mundane tasks – and the bots won’t take sick leave, demand overtime or leave for jobs with competitors
  • Raises levels of compliance – because the robot never deviates from the business rules configured into the software
  • Improves evidencing and auditing – RPA tracks and documents all tasks that it automates enabling improved risk, fraud and compliance reporting and helping Compliance officers to resolve issues, conduct reviews of compliance status, prepare responses to regulatory audits and drive further process improvement
  • Reduces the need for remediation efforts – because RPA addresses the root cause: the accumulation of small errors that result from manual data entry
  • Enables enterprise-wide compliance – RPA works across the entire enterprise, orchestrating various applications and systems, enhancing the as-is processes without costly and time consuming process re-engineering or systems integration
  • Provides operational agility – robots are multi-skilled and responsive, can scale up or down and be easily switched to the next regulatory change priority

The robots are coming and for Compliance, probably not a moment too soon. But what does it mean for Compliance staff? Think of a ‘bot’ as another person on your team, there to do the boring and repetitive admin tasks. Map out the selected business processes and assign the ‘bot’ to manage them. Working 24/7/365, the bots stick to the rules and report on their every activity, which improves evidencing and auditing. This releases Compliance staff to more value-adding and satisfying roles that require human judgment. We call that, “taking the robot out of the human.”

So how do you get going? The best way is to try it out, through a quick Pilot that demonstrates RPA working in situ with existing systems and shows how easy it is to implement and use. The Pilot gets momentum going, gains stakeholder buy-in and leads people to ask, “What else can we automate?”

Your initial approach might be standalone and tactical – to rapidly address specific pain points – or you might set out with strategic and transformational intent – to create a robotically-enabled operating model for Regulatory Compliance. More likely your end destination will be ill defined, but DigiBlu can help you on your way: starting small with the Pilot, scaling fast and helping you to maximise benefits and ease the burden of regulatory change.