Monday 14 October 2019 12:01 am

UK financial services firms leading the way on automation

Financial services firms in the UK are integrating robo-advisers into their ranks faster than their global competitors in a bid to harness the technology to retain customers – or poach new ones, new research has found.

While 37 per cent of UK financial services firms surveyed have implemented robotic processing automation (RPA) – a technology used to automate human activities – only 28 per cent of global firms have adopted the technology, according to a report published today by PwC.

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But the rise of automation is presenting firms with the dilemma of how to balance “the need for human interaction with the digitally enhanced offerings customers also expect”, said PwC partner Rav Hayer.

“Most consumers want the reassurance of some human oversight alongside access to a human adviser for key decisions,” said Hayer.

This dilemma appears to be preoccupying firms, with 27 per cent of UK firms reporting they do not think they are meeting customer expectations with the right balance of digital and direct human contact.

Although UK firms may lead the way when it comes to robo-advisors, the research found they are much less likely to have implemented big data (29 per cent vs 46 per cent) or the internet of things (15 per cent vs 31 per cent) than their international rivals.

Financial services firms in the UK are also falling slightly behind on the integration of fintech. While 44 per cent of UK companies reported having fully embedded fintech across their strategic operating model, almost half (48 per cent) of global firms have embedded the technology.

Fintech is also driving job creation within financial services in the UK. According to the report, the majority (63 per cent) of firms are creating new positions as a result of the technology.

Yet despite the majority of UK financial services firms hiring from both technology companies and their own sector to find employees with the skills needed for fintech, almost half (46 per cent) of companies are struggling to fill these new positions.

Read more: AI investment in UK reaches record high

To bridge the fintech skills gap, firms need to prioritise technology at executive level, Hayer said, highlighting the finding that only 34 per cent of UK firms have a C-suite level executive responsible for leading the company’s tech or digital strategy.

“Increased C-Suite involvement will pave the way for more investment and bring a more attractive environment for real innovation and partnership with fintechs,” he said.

Main image credit: Getty