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Workflow Wisdom for Financial Services: 3 Top Impact Opportunities


It’s no secret that Business Process Automation (BPA) is being used by thousands of companies that span just about every vertical market from retail to legal services to non-profits to government agencies. There is likely no industry that presents the prospect for massive return on investment than the world of financial services. Banks, credit unions, brokerage firms, insurance companies and accounting firms by their very nature lend themselves to transformational change in the way they do business, leveraging workflow to reduce manual processing of critical data and increase attention to clients. This provides an ample opportunity tree of low-hanging fruit ripe for business impact.

What makes automated workflow such a terrific fit in finance?

  1. Large transactional volume – Loan processing events, market quotes and orders, investment advice and other customer communications occur in big numbers for many firms. Even beyond that, process steps tend to be high for each of these revenue-Fin1blogproducing opportunities. The use of IT systems to systematically and consistently work through transactions, independent of staff involved, often results in time and manpower savings in excess of 45% from handling them manually.
  2. High levels of regulation – Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulatory requirements on financial institutions and advisory firms means a lot of I-dotting and T-crossing, and that means multiple approval stages, checks and double checks, and documentation in order to comply and pass compliance audits without breaking the bank. This cost of doing business is high, and organizations that fulfill regulatory requirements using file cabinets, spreadsheets and sweat equity invite a tremendous hit to the bottom line. Business process automation rips huge chunks of time from this process while simultaneously improving accuracy of information ten-fold. The net results are shorter audit cycles, more first time success, and fewer unintended penalties and fines.
  3. High Cost of Mistakes – Financial institutions control the flow and direction of incredible amounts of money, money that belongs to the organizations and thousands of individual investors. Those investors are keeping a watchful eye on their cash, and mistakes are not tolerated; moreover, they’re often lethal, resulting in lost clients, lawsuits, and reputation damage that grows exponentially and is often irreversible. Missed market opportunities, slow communications and poor budget information can result in millions of dollars of loss for stockholders. The right use of workflow technology dramatically improves the accuracy and speed of data mining, alerts to opportunity or volatility, and customer communications, serving as a fiscal white knight to repeatedly save the day for financial firms.

These attributes form the perfect witches brew of things that automated workflow, when done right, excels at handling.

So what categories of financial activity yield the best opportunities for financial service organizations to capitalize on?

Daily Transactions

Financial clients are best served when experiences occur faster and more repeatable. Data capture, processing steps, and a variety of approvals are time consuming and require information to touch many hands. Workflow systems simplify this effort, capturing and validating data and routing it effectively to ensure consistent, timely action.
 Fin2blogAccount processing –automatic data collection and reviews; financial reporting; integration and secure transmissions between systems and institutions

Loan approvals – online loan forms for capture, storage and tracking of data; automated approval routings; monitoring and auditing

Invoice approvals – integration with accounting systems; invoice capture, approval, drill-down and reporting

Cash Processing – cash receipt tracking; settlement selection; general ledger disparities, reconciliation and automated reports; payment authorization and automated transmittals


As another example, Swiss Bank Corporation installed a fully integrated electronic securities trading system, resulting in $3M – $5Min direct savings for securities custody and settlement processing, and by extension, over $30 million in personnel savings after business reorganization.

Fiscal Compliance and Audit Readiness

Establishing routine and repeatable processes that ensure regulatory compliance are now critical functions for any organization that handles and moves money, as is the capacity to research and find vital information. Workflow systems, combined with top tier document management tools, dramatically reduce the time and energy required for this compliance and provide organizational peace of mind.

Pre-Trade clearance – automation of stricter process controls prior to stock trade authorizations; SEC regulation checklistsFin3blog

Error Reporting – error identification and tracking; consistent remediation process; data capture and presentation for subsequent analysis and audits

Records retention – document management automation; enterprise level repositories of categorized, critical data; global search capability; automated institutional archiving practices

e-Discovery – enterprise wide sourcing of all legal case documents; “on-hold” status during investigations; cross-system search of supporting documentation (emails, file shares, social discussions, etc.)

Contracts – financial clause management and tracking; change order and modification processes; expirations and critical date tracking and alert systems; contract adherence violation tracking and reporting

Customer Experience Management

In the world of finance today, customers have options, and competitors to your business are making it easier than ever before to leave your firm if the experience is getting ripe. I left my last financial advisory firm to sign on with another in large part because the online experience was lacking. I couldn’t research stocks, pull capital gains information at will, nor execute trades on the site. By today’s standards, this was wholly insufficient. Business process automation streamlines dozens of key actions that govern customer experience.

Customer touch management – integration with Customer Relationship Management systems; triggered email reminders; automation of social media, newsletter, and email campaign creation and publication

Inquiry response – live chat, pop-up online surveys; automatic internal and external lead referrals

Information personalization – online research reports tailored to implied search preferences; direct mail campaigns based upon customer accounts profiles; automated cross-selling; instant market alerts by customer portfolio

Case management – request/complaint tagging and tracking workflow; automatic ticket assignments for resolution; customer self-serve portal inquiries

What business processes are holding back your organization? The solution might be simpler than you think.