Marius Royal

Market Analyst

September 23 2018

Automation in Banking: Technology and Personnel

A key question of our time is: how is automation changing the very nature of our work? It’s a highly complex question that would require you to look at a vast amount of global economic, and social policies, that have spurred innovation to this point. However, in the field of banking this level of innovation can be seen quite linearly, as banks are utilizing more and more financial technology to streamline the day to day activities of a bank.
While banks themselves, and consumers are benefiting, the harsh reality is that as financial automation progresses, jobs in the field of banking are going to become more specialized requiring less low-level positions to handle the more mundane aspect of operating a bank. We’ve been able to observe this trend by looking at how automation in banking has cut the need for bank tellers and underwriters.
Banks are making sure that there are more automated solutions that minimize the need of going to a branch, these range anywhere from; paying bills online, banking on your phone, cashing cheques through an ATM, or even paying cheques through the bank’s app. Whatever the case may be, each one of these solutions means that less people are lining up in banks – requiring less people to be staffed to deal with simple banking tasks. In a way, for these tellers, there is a benefit of relieving pressure on them, as they now have to process fewer people per hour. Nevertheless, as time progresses, the necessity to even have more than a couple tellers will be minimal.
Internally, the automation in a bank’s infrastructure means that fewer people will be needed to deal with the various “paperwork” that needs to be categorized by a bank. As highlighted in a video by the company Deloitte, cogitative automation is a viable solution that outperforms employees. As highlighted in this video, Deloitte explains that a self-learning AI can manage a much higher volume of contracts and invoices. Despite having a talented team to deal with those contracts and invoices, employees cannot compete with an AI that is self-learning. The scale at which this system can operate, as described by Deloitte, means this system has the capacity to read millions of lines of text and find errors beyond human capacity. Inevitability meaning, that there will be less and less of a need for employees to manage paperwork in a bank, replaced by a self-learning intelligent system.
What does this mean for as a consumers and customers at a bank? Well quite frankly, it appears to be heavily in our favor. If the bank operates more efficiently, then we as consumers get a more efficient service. Instead of waiting in line at a bank to get service, we can utilize much better alternatives that save us time and money. We can pay credit card bills with the tap of a button on our phone, we can invest online and get free webinars to help us do so, and we can pay in cheques at home if we upload a photo to the bank’s app. The universality of these options may not be available for all banks yet, but, we are certainly moving in a direction that completely reduces the need to do any sort of banking in person.
While as a whole we may be benefiting from an increase of service through automation, there’s a serious question that needs to be asked if this level of automation is universally beneficial. The fact of the matter is, automation can undercut the needs of the consumer. Instead of contacting someone directly when phoning a bank, we’re routed through a call centre guarded by a robot voice who instructs you to press buttons before you can talk to someone. It’s a hassle on the consumers end but saves a considerable amount of time and money for a bank. The impersonal touch is irritating when you just want to speak to someone as appose to a verbal phone maze. But there’s also a question of comfort and trust with automation, looking back at the previous example, would you as a client feel comfortable knowing either your contracts or invoices are being dealt with a self-learning machine? Even if the machine is a far better alternative to a human, is that enough to make us feel comfortable that there is no human oversight?
The way I see it is as follows, there is a market value, especially in the age of automation, for a personal touch. A level of service by humans that makes sure customers feel that their interests are not being destabilized by an impersonal automated system.
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