In my previous post, I talked about how automation was not necessarily new to the financial services (FS) industry, but the workforce transformation through robotics process automation was happening more rapidly than previously.

The future ‘virtual workforce’ within FS will likely comprise a suite of technologies—from basic robotics process automation through cognitive computing and natural language processing. Not only will this workforce be able to provide cost savings, it frees its human counterparts so they can focus on roles that add the most value—from innovation to client relations. 

As automation scales, machines could be able to take on as much as 30 percent of the current workload. According to Accenture’s Top 10 Challenges for Investment Banks: Turning Automation Into Intelligence: “This productivity increase, utilizing a hybrid workforce, dramatically reduces the number of years it could take for economies to double. Our study shows that the United States could feasibly double the size of its economy by 2040, with Britain not far behind.”

In order to strike the right balance for the hybrid workforce of the future, leaders in FS need to ponder the following questions:

  • Which jobs to retain? FS organisations need to be ready to handle large amounts of redundancies, not to mention, displacement into other roles. Technically skilled staff with the right collaborative and innovative behaviours may be retrained for the new digital jobs emerging. Others will not have future roles.
  • How to make retained jobs more varied, empowered and interesting? The FS operations jobs that remain will most likely be richer and more varied. Employees will need to exercise more skill and judgement as they will face more complex decision-making and exception cases. But they may also become more isolated with less team interaction. So, it’s crucial that management keeps re-engaging the retained organisation.
  • How should human workers interact with their robot colleagues? For robots with machine-learning capabilities, this will include human workers teaching and coaching their robot colleagues. Equally it will include human workers supervising and reviewing teams of robot workers.
  • Who has responsibility for maintaining the robots, and what controls are in place? As technologies and regulations change, each organisation needs to continue to maintain and improve how the robots work. Risk and compliance controls need to be rethought. 

For most in financial services, there will still be a period of uncertainty while figuring out the right mix in the workforce of the future. This evolution needs to be well managed with strong leadership and change tracking. Companies that adjust their organization and culture to incorporate intelligent automation as co-workers, rather than people replacements, will be the ones reaping the most important rewards.

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