Fintech Insights

The Wrong Way to Use Robotics in Asset Management

April 10, 2018

A lot can go wrong if you aren’t careful about the way you implement and manage robotics solutions. And no, this isn’t a Westworld reference. Although, for asset managers on both the traditional and alternative sides, a misstep in how you approach your robotics-empowered future could lead to dark outcomes.

Let’s take a step back. It probably feels like we’ve entered an era where people across the industry are chanting lines such as “we’ve got to pilot a robotics solution,” “we’re falling behind our competitors who are using robotics process automation already,” or “how soon can we implement robotics in our technology stack?” I, myself, have been known to say that robots are part of our industry’s future.

But here is the danger: implement too soon, or in the wrong way, and you could be in a tough spot down the road.

What should you be considering today before you implement a robotics solution in your firm?

Take a hard look at your current workflows and processes.

Before you bring any robots into the mix, you’ll need some human minds to look through your various workflows and processes as they are today, so you can determine where robotics may be a good fit. You’ve got to know where you’re headed as a business and take a hard look at whether or not you’re set up to get there efficiently and effectively. Don’t add robotics into a subpar workflow to simply make it run faster in the wrong direction – you may have a harder time course-correcting down the line.

Don’t use robotics to paper over operational cracks.

Adding robotics capabilities into your operations could simply make a poor workflow run faster, not better. Some traditional and alternative asset managers are starting to use robotics to bridge gaps they have in a current product set, maybe to call a macro or validate something in a spreadsheet. Robotic scripts can be placed in the process to automate tasks in between. But if the process itself isn’t best for your business, you’re simply papering over the cracks. (And of course, the cracks remain.)

Start thinking about the ways human employees and robotic employees should work together.

There’s no way around it: you’ve got to be adaptable to change in the asset management industry. Career paths will shift and those who will rise in the future are starting to think now about how to work “hand in hand” with robotic counterparts. The whole idea of the robotic employee is one that’s perplexing to many across nearly every sector, but it’s critical to consider questions such as:

  • Do we need to redefine what it means to be an employee?
  • Should our robotic employees have human managers or sponsors?
  • Where do human employee responsibilities end and robotic employee responsibilities begin?
  • How do we handle access and security if robotic employees have access to data in applications across the organization?

If this sounds like a bridge to cross when we come to it, you may be setting yourself up for a tough passage to the future. The wider asset management industry will be increasingly powered by robotics technology in the coming years, and there are several firms already blazing trails. The key is understanding that there is a lot to consider today, as human decision-makers, before the robots get to work.