The financial services (FS) sector is under more pressure than ever. Juggling the effects of the pandemic, technological disruption and high customer expectations, coupled with maintaining business continuity, has been a difficult balancing act – and yet these factors are critical to FS. Neil Murphy, Global VP at ABBYY, explores how this has led some teams to butt up against the long-held rules and processes of the sector.

In order to see success, banks and FS firms need to take a long, hard look at how their business really works. This means getting visibility into business processes as they actually behave, identifying variances in them, and discovering how they can better meet customer and business needs.

With the world under unprecedented pressure, finding out how best to manage rules and processes can alleviate the strain and set your business on the path to success. Our recent research found that almost half (46%) of banking and FS workers and 30% of insurance staff rigorously follow the rules – giving the industry a good head start in coping with what’s thrown at them.

But is following the rules always the best route? And what happens when employees break the rules?

Rules – there to be followed?

Banking and financial services staff are working harder than ever before to help customers, keep businesses afloat, and also digitally transform. In such a process-driven industry, honing the many rules and processes could be the key to survival in this economy.

Our recent research found that almost half (46%) of banking and FS workers and 30% of insurance staff rigorously follow the rules – giving the industry a good head start in coping with what’s thrown at them.

At this point in time, it’s vital that banks and FS teams check in on their processes often to see where issues lie, which processes are most problematic, and which are ripe for automating. Following the rules is the cornerstone of achieving the potential of digital transformation, according to a McKinsey study which found that half of the value from digital transformation can be realised from as few as 10-20 end-to-end processes.

What tech brings to the table

While digital transformation is nothing new to most banks and financial institutions, now more than ever, they must rely on technology. It will help them conduct better business, comply with regulations, connect with customers, and deal with an ongoing flood of emergency business issues.

Getting your processes in order before automating them is a crucial step to avoiding failure. Yet many banking and FS staff claim that processes are too complex or there are too many to follow.

This is where technology comes in, and encouragingly leaders are open to helping their staff using technologies that can lighten the burden. According to our research, almost all banking and FS bosses think process mining technologies would be helpful to their business (98%), as did 89% of insurance bosses. These technologies can free up time for finance staff, enabling them to work on more pressing business matters that require the human touch.

Bending the rules 

Rigorous rule-keeping is a trait the financial industry needs to uphold, in order to comply with stringent industry regulations. But there is a flipside.


Key to a bank or financial institution’s success, especially in this digital age, is how they adapt and respond to customer needs. This means that even in a process-driven industry like financial services, employees occasionally break the rules. Sometimes, they have good reason: the most common reason to break the rules is to provide good customer service, which is more critical than ever before. Our research found that 62% of insurance bosses have confidence that their employees break rules so they can meet the needs of customers, and 50% of banking and FS bosses agree.

Relationship-building services like customer care, supplier management, or simply supporting colleagues and staff, can go a long way in benefiting a business and boosting morale. Being willing to bend the rules when it’s better for customers illustrates that rather than financial services staff being solely process-driven, they are driven even more by customer satisfaction.

So where do we start?

Unfortunately, customers are used to delays and layers of processes when it comes to banking. But it doesn’t have to be that way. To better serve customers, while also ensuring staff aren’t straying too far from the rulebook, the FS industry needs to be able to identify the bottlenecks and blind spots in every engagement. They also need the ability to analyse and discover processes using all the data they have.

Process intelligence technologies offer a deep understanding and real-time monitoring of processes. It helps you drill down into the details, explain why processes don’t work and how to fix them, and provides the tools to solve problems a business didn’t even know existed.

Say a customer loses their debit card. They shouldn’t need to go through the time-consuming process of calling various support teams, keying in endless numbers, and being put on hold, only for their account to be frozen as a precaution. By having every process mapped out and every piece of data available on an analytics dashboard, staff are given the knowledge of where customer service bottlenecks lie and why delays happen, so they can resolve issues much more quickly and securely.

Process intelligence technologies offer a deep understanding and real-time monitoring of processes.

But it’s not only useful for directly customer-facing interactions. Take anti-money laundering and anti-fraud compliance efforts. At a time when fraud is more prevalent than ever, nailing the processes that catch odd customer behaviour patterns in your data, and being able to action them automatically, means customers’ accounts are safer and more secure, even with less staff in the office and more fraudsters in the system.

Looking ahead 

A clear understanding of your business’ processes will identify inefficiencies that may be impacting the customer experience – that you would never have known about otherwise. Empowering your staff with the tools to analyse less-structured processes, identify opportunities for improvement, and increase both the speed and accuracy of executing said processes, will reap many rewards.

Not only will it ensure businesses are getting the most out of their huge investment in digital transformation – it will also ensure customers are getting the best possible service. Right now, there’s nothing more vital than that.