There is a lot of excitement surrounding robotic process automation and artificial intelligence and their potential for automation in business.

A new white paper by Fiserv, a global provider of financial services technology solutions, looks at how these emerging technologies will be able to drive significant increases in productivity and efficiency in the wealth management industry.

Fiserv defines robotic process automation (RPA) as the programming of machines to mimic the way humans manage and perform tasks. As a form of intelligent automation, RPA relies on software rather than actual robots to imitate the activity of humans and carry out repetitive tasks.

Through the use of intelligent algorithms, RPA can react to events and triggers to follow step-by-step procedures in various scenarios.

In wealth management, RPA can take over tedious and mundane tasks that humans perform, to service both the advisor and the middle and home office.

“Much like the improvements to manufacturing processes that have taken place over many years, and that have resulted in better efficiency, design and safety, we believe wealth management is now going through this same cycle, mirroring the automation and improvement that has taken place in manufacturing since the late ‘70s and ‘80s,” the white paper, “How Digitalization Is Reshaping Wealth Management,” states.

The first step in robotic process automation is to examine tasks that rely on structured data and involve manual processes and high volumes.

In wealth management, the use of RPA makes the most sense when tasks are simple, manual, high volume, content intensive, have few exceptions and are prone to human error.

The paper outlines five examples where RPA can be useful.

1. Client Onboarding

Digital tools efficiently onboard new clients remotely and with integrated applications to perform e-signatures, according to Fiserv. Digitizing client onboarding would also eliminate the use of hard copies and multiple forms, as well as the re-keying of information.

2. Financial Planning/Data Aggregation

RPA can help provide a digital experience for clients with tools that provide real-time interaction and “what-if” scenarios instantly, the paper says. For example, this can include interactive building of financial plans and portfolios and automated aggregation of client data.

3. Trade Processing

Using RPA to help with trade processing automates exception handling to create and send intelligent alerts based on certain exception criteria. It also eliminates the need to manually upload data files to back-office systems as well as human mistakes. RPA also improves process quality and volumes.

4. Reconciliation

RPA can help retrieve data in numerous forms from external parties and internal accounting and recordkeeping systems. It is then able to format information, compare data sets and — based on defined rules — make corrections and adjustments.

RPA can eliminates time-consuming reconciliation performed manually with spreadsheets. “Compared to human effort, RPA can retrieve and prepare data sets in many different formats from external parties and compare based on predefined rules,” the paper states.

5. Fund Administration/Financial Reporting

RPA can perform validation checks across multiple segments of the financial reporting process where the process is repetitive and rules-based and prone to human error, according to Fiserv.

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