Leveraging the benefits of intelligent automation
Equity Trustees is a 130-year-old heritage brand that started in the days of horse and cart. The company has continued to evolve and reinvented itself many times over in order to thrive.
Three years ago, Equity Trustees leveraged the power of intelligent automation to dramatically improve client service and business processes and, in doing so, gained many of the tools needed to continue operating seamlessly when COVID-19 arrived.
A pivot to remote working was challenged by several manual handling tasks performed by the operations team, leaving a core group unable to effectively work from home if they were not able to automate quickly.
“Using robotic process automation (RPA) technology, we were able to automate key pieces of work so that our operations team could execute them remotely with greatly reduced manual effort,” said Phing Lee, Chief Technology Officer at Equity Trustees.
According to Lee, Equity Trustees found that for people forced to work from home during lockdowns, the use of RPA alleviated some of the burdens and helped to boost job satisfaction, reduce stress and improve wellbeing. The company also found it helped increase productivity.
“We used RPA to free our people’s time so they could focus on higher-value tasks, such as resolving errors and queries, spending more time serving our customers and not be bogged down by boring, repetitive administrative tasks,” he said.
There is a strong body of industry analyst and academic research that points to the types of benefits Equity Trustees has achieved. The report ‘The Advance of Automation: Business Hopes, Fears and Reality’, from the Economist Intelligence Unit, found that customer satisfaction and engagement, employee attention and the ability to handle more tasks with greater accuracy were all markedly improved by around 90% through the use of automation technology.
Equity Trustees has been partnering with CiGen to automate a wide range of processes for almost three years. This has given the company the ability to improve a number of tasks, such as reporting, trading in managed funds, data analysis, and accounts payable and receivable.
“Working closely with CiGen, we have been able to design automation transformation projects to deliver improved client outcomes. We used RPA technology to help provide our philanthropic trust grant managers and co-trustees with enhanced reporting on the distribution of grant funding,” Lee said.
These tasks often require information to be extracted and collated from multiple systems. The processes for executing these steps are well understood and repetitive — something that makes them good candidates for automation.
“In the past, when our grant managers wanted to see how much money was available to grant to charitable causes on any given day, being dependent on a myriad of factors such as funds under investment, income expected from those investments, grants already committed and so forth, it would take days of manual processing across the entirety of Equity Trustees portfolio,” said Lee.
RPA technology allows Equity Trustees to run tasks continuously and to crosscheck with information from multiple sources. This means staff can focus attention on exceptions and special cases rather than tedious tasks.
“It also provides real-time insights, offering unparalleled speed and accuracy, and frees our people from time-consuming data crunching and reporting,” Lee said.
The company uses RPA to speed up market trade processing, reconciliations and accounts payable services, requiring less manual effort and delivering greater accuracy.
“We can now process hundreds of trade instructions in a matter of minutes, at a scale that was never possible before. Our people have been relieved of time-consuming, monotonous tasks so they can focus on higher-value activities and provide enhanced customer service,” Lee said.
While intelligent automation is a technology-based solution, the benefits are largely realised within business units and at the coalface — where organisations interact with their customers and supply chain. In fact, Gartner forecasts that half of all new RPA clients will be purchased by business managers outside of IT.
For Equity Trustees, solving the immediate challenges posed by the rapid transition to work from home during the pandemic has presented the opportunity to leverage automation and prepare it for the new normal. The result is improvement in both business productivity and customer service, along with a reduction in stress for staff.
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