Automation Efficiencies for Family Offices
February 22, 2022
Family offices run many disparate systems and processes and it takes a lot of effort to make everything work together. From bill paying, wire transfers, consolidation of investment data and related financial reporting activities require a great deal of manual (‘hands on keyboard’) work, and now most -- if not all -- of it is being done remotely. The tendency is to try to do more with less, and the family office staff is not necessarily able to use the same level of resource capacity that they've had in the past. Finding qualified resources is often challenging so, alternatively, how do you find a way to automate and streamline to accommodate accelerated growth?
What Is RPA?
Robotics process automation (RPA) is a software technology that makes it possible to build, deploy, and manage software robots or ‘bots’ that emulate humans’ interactions with business applications. RPA is a simple form of artificial intelligence that allows software to execute the ‘hands on keyboard’ tasks just as a human worker would.
How Are Family Offices Automating Manual Tasks?
From an operations perspective, there are countless activities that involve manual processing tasks. Functions such as running Excel macros, managing email notifications, and performing common keyboard activities including journal postings, account reconciliations and file data transfers are all part of every workflow process and are suitable candidates for automation. The major benefit of automating a full ‘end-to-end’ business process is that companies often realize a significant ROI within a relatively short period of time. For family offices, the collection of data from disparate accounting, operational, and reporting systems can be daunting but RPA bots can handle the aggregation, validation and transformation of both structured and unstructured data. Organizations that have successfully implemented RPA have eliminated over 70% of manual activities.
Family Office Automation
Family offices typically operate with a core team who perform many repetitive and manual activities. These mundane activities include searching folders, moving files, responding to emails, posting entries into systems, and performing various computations in Excel. For example, professionals spend countless hours extracting documents from an investment portal and then aggregating the data to consolidate and transform information into a consumable format. Often this information is then manually entered into the accounting, operational, and reporting systems. With multi-generational families, there can be hundreds of family members, each of which have their own file structure. These activities can be automated using an RPA bot which can be scheduled to run as either an overnight scheduled ‘batch’ process or executed intraday, saving the team hundreds of hours that can be spent on more important ‘value-add’ activities. RPA bots can also be used to roll forward the files from one year to another.
Another example involves a real estate-focused family office’s handling of the tenant onboarding process which has various manual and time-consuming tasks. RPA bots can be programmed to extract and process information to handle rule-based tasks in the tenant admission process. RPA use cases specifically for tenant onboarding process include creating a new tenant application, performing background checks and verification of income, employment and reference.
Finally, most family offices respond to frequent client email requests for information. RPA technology can change the client user experience into a positive encounter via automation. For example, when a client sends an email requesting information, an RPA bot can take care of that email request by automatically logging the request and then sending an email response to the client. This reduces the backlog of client requests and improves the overall client experience.
How to Get Started
The first question to ask is: How much of your business process is manual? Technology is supposed to make your life easier, and by deploying RPA technology you can accomplish this. Manual process, not leveraging data out of your existing system, no real time information, inability to scale and grow; all of these are signs that you have found a good candidate for automation. However, if you are unsure of how to measure the inefficiencies and risks, then consider utilizing a partner (internal or external) who can investigate. Process discovery sessions as part of a current state assessment can help benchmark processes and measure time lost to manual workflow. RPA consultants can help you develop the business case, select the right use cases and then design and implement new automated processes.
You are part of a dynamic industry that is on the path to transformation. Are you ready to embark on this exciting journey? Both your clients and your team will certainly appreciate that you did.