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Beyond the Efficiency Ratio: Leveraging Automation to Improve Profitability and Experience

While less visible, the back office also plays a critical role in digital transformation

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  • Written by  Jay Coomes, Vice President of Product Strategy, Financial Risk Management Solutions, Fiserv
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  • Comments:   DISQUS_COMMENTS
Beyond the Efficiency Ratio: Leveraging Automation to Improve Profitability and Experience

The efficiency ratio is one of the most important measurements that CEOs report to their boards; however, efficiency isn’t a destination—it’s a journey of continued process improvement, similar to the digital transformation that’s underway in financial services.

Banks continuously differentiate themselves by creating the experiences their customers want. This requires a well thought out strategy that includes ongoing investment in both customer-facing and back office technology.

Many banks focus the majority of their attention on customer-facing solutions, including mobile banking, mobile card controls, online banking, payments, mortgage lending and other capabilities that are critical for driving revenue and providing the services that customers want.

While less visible, the back office also plays a critical role in digital transformation. Technology in the back office is important for digitizing and automating the flow of information throughout the enterprise for greater efficiency.

Back office technology capabilities can also play a key role in attracting and retaining top talent that can help a bank deliver on the promise of digital transformation. Employees appreciate being able to do their work efficiently and effectively. The inherent “cool factor” in good technology can also drive pride and satisfaction, which ultimately makes its way to customers in the form of better service, and a better experience.

For any bank, streamlining the back office can seem like a daunting process due to the complexity that is often associated with a multitude of siloed processes and legacy systems. Nonetheless, optimal performance and efficiency when executing a digital transformation strategy requires a deep understanding of how information flows between back-office components and their customer-facing counterparts. Achieving ongoing efficiency also requires the ability to seamlessly deploy new technologies to keep up with changing ways of operating.

Banks’ systems are disparate and employees often have multiple touchpoints that require repetitive inputs and introduce room for error. Fortunately, new workflow automation technologies are helping to eliminate manual tasks, improving the way employees work and simplifying banks’ processes, including how information is shared throughout the entire organization. Advanced workflow automation functions and capabilities delivered on a single platform also make it possible to more fully understand back office technology deployments and their impact on the rest of the organization.

Through workflow automation and a consistent and single real-time view of efficiency at all levels of the organization, banks can easily identify and quickly mitigate performance gaps and reduce “paper shuffling” throughout each department.

Normally, such a level of automation would require several months of coding, configuration and testing for banks to replicate themselves. Now, it can be achieved in a matter of weeks, not months with the right fintech partner. Doing so enables banks to measure and improve efficiency—not once—but in a continuum that parallels their ongoing digital transformation journey.

Working with a partner that has deep expertise in banking and credit unions is essential. One size does not fit all.

An effective partner understands the business processes within the financial institution and not only tailors their solution accordingly, but also supports the final configuration with an experienced professional services team.

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The U.S. has come a long way in its journey to real-time payments, with TCH and Zelle in market and FedNow just around the corner. COVID-19 has accelerated that demand to move to real-time. Yet many financial institutions remain unconvinced of the need to move, with less than 3% of financial institutions signed up today.

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