In an environment of ever-increasing requirements and pressures – regulatory requirements (reporting, governance, compliance, and risk management) as well as other areas such as data protection and security and inflation to list but a few – how do we keep the cost of Fund Administration as low as possible so that the costs involved in investing within funds do not become prohibitive to all?
What’s the answer?
I believe costs can optimally be controlled by making ourselves and the processes that we perform as efficient as possible and this in turn can be achieved by cultivating a culture of constant innovation and a desire to be relentlessly resourceful.
With these solid foundations and armed with a library of efficient processes, we can then call on a little help from our friends in the automation department, the robots.
Automating tasks through robotic process automation allows us to do more with the resources we have.
What is process automation?
The automation processes that we develop are only as good as the design and development standards and practices that go into them.
At the start there is the process redesign. Leaning on the principles of methodologies such as Six Sigma, Lean Thinking, Total Quality Management and Kaizen then comes the software development itself following the principles that developers have been developing and using for decades.
At Maitland we started our process automation journey with robotics in 2018 by selecting the UiPath Robotics framework.
UiPath is a well-oiled and well-adopted framework which comes with the benefit of it having been thoroughly tested with bug fixes and improvements being implemented in regular updates.
It offers a great, ever-improving framework for robotic process development and management, as well as a fast-growing suite of products around process automation in general.
They have curated a powerful tool set of “everything automation” – extending to application programming interfaces, computer vision, and the ability to “instruct” robots as to where on the screen to click or from where to get data. No matter the maturity of the interacting system, there is a tool within UiPath that can accomplish the task.
What it isn’t
There is no magic in robotics, no quick wins, and no shortcuts to designing and developing great processes.
You do not sit down with a robot and explain what it is they must do and then off they go, repeatedly doing the process flawlessly in a record time.
For myself, nothing illustrates this more than the understanding that a process developed within the UiPath development environment will compile into vb.net or C# (you can choose). This essentially means that robotic process development requires the same fundamental principles and skillsets that are required in traditional software development projects that are written in languages such as C#, Python, etc.
Maitland’s robotics offering has developed and matured and our constant curiosity and desire to be better leads us to implement new methodologies and functionality.
The end effect is that costs are reduced throughout the value chain, leading to lower costs to the end investor and thereby “democratising” investment.
Will robots replace humans?
No, I am happy to say that in our automation journey we have not reduced headcount. Instead, our team has grown and even further enhanced through bringing in young graduates from our Maitland intern programme.
In my view, automation is not about reducing head count; it is rather about doing things better, continually improving and shouldering the ever-increasing demands of the industry, so that investing can be kept open to all.
After all, creating jobs, ensuring honest processes, and keeping investing affordable for all is a huge Environmental, Social and Governance win, not so?