How Regional Banks Are Finding Reliable Staff with AI-Enabled Digital Workers

December 8, 2022 · 4 min read
Bank-building

While no two regional banks are alike, there is one thing plaguing banks across all regions and sizes — challenges with recruiting, retaining, reskilling, and replacing staff. Attracting qualified talent is a top concern for both bank and credit union executives according to a survey by Cornerstone Advisors, which found that 67% of banks and 63% of credit unions said this in early 2022, up from 19% for both groups the year before.

There is no end in sight for these staffing challenges initially driven by the pandemic, the Great Resignation (now the Great Reset), the primary and secondary effects of the war in Ukraine, and a looming recession. As a matter of fact, WorkFusion’s research found that a staggering 89% of banking and financial services respondents have found it harder to recruit talent this past year, while 87% said it’s harder to retain employees.

Additionally, the drive for growth creates the need for regional banks to acquire more customers, along with nurturing the existing customer base, which creates a lot of work. This is a never-ending cycle.

The bottom line, there’s simply too much work and not enough workers to do it. Sanction alerts still need to be processed, emails need to be returned, and regulatory compliance still needs to be ensured. This all places a new burden on existing staff — leading to increased errors and employee burnout.

Increasingly, regional banks are turning to AI-enabled Digital Workers to help alleviate these talent issues and free up their existing staff to work on higher-value work.

Putting Technology to Work

Did you know that it takes approximately six months to hire and train a mid-level employee until they are up and running? That time-to-productivity is way too long in a world where everything is instant.

Now, imagine an employee that is immediately productive from day one, never gets tired or sick, takes no PTO, and works 24/7. This isn’t a fever dream; it’s a reality being filled by AI-enabled Digital Workers.

Digital Workers are pre-built intelligent automation designed to automate an entire job — not just tasks. Digital Workers work alongside their human colleagues to reduce manual work, enhance quality, increase speed, save money, support compliance, and expand the overall capacity of the team. When the work requires escalation to human colleagues, the Digital Workers can collaborate and learn for next time.

With a Digital Worker there’s no risk that they won’t show up for their first day of work, won’t quit after a few months, and there is no need to stay awake at night worrying if this new hire will ultimately work out.

Digital Workers Drive Savings

A digital workforce solution should drive cost savings. Digital Workers do this in two ways:

  1. avoiding external costs
  2. reducing the cost of operations by employing fewer people

For example, Carter Bank & Trust is a community bank based in Virginia, with around $4 billion in assets. Within one year of working with WorkFusion, the organization had saved up to $3 million by using automation equivalent to 40 full-time employees. They realized the most business impact in AML/KYC processes by automating account opening reviews, identity verification, adverse media monitoring, and fraud due diligence.

Additionally, a regional bank based in Florida has found immediate cost savings by deploying our Digital Worker, Evelyn, for adverse media monitoring. Working with the bank’s BSA/AML officer, the team was able to identify $250k in savings simply by replacing their existing news solution with Evelyn’s built-in Google news. The savings included $150k+ in OpEx cost, plus it allowed their FTEs to handle additional alerts as the company continues to grow.

The Burden of AML False Positives

The time and resources that banks spend on false positive alerts take their toll on employees and the bank’s bottom line.

Rules-based sanctions and AML screening software generates many sanctions alerts, and, unfortunately, 99% of those alerts are false positives. Using time and money to review thousands of false positives is an efficiency problem that can lead to missing that rare true positive, due to resource strain from reviewing thousands of false positives.

In today’s economy, where new employees are expensive and difficult to find, it’s unrealistic for banks to continue hiring massive numbers of sanctions screening analysts in support of compliance around AML/BSA/OFAC/etc. It is not uncommon that alert review teams (sanctions and AML combined) make up 75% of a bank’s compliance staff.

However, Digital Workers reduce the false positive burden. Evelyn reviews more than one million alerts annually, and she’s been shown to reduce false positives for sanctions alerts by more than 80%. And Tara, a Transaction Screening Analyst Digital Worker, has been shown to reduce false positives by more than 70%.

Automating screenings with AI/ML makes sense across the board.

Rethinking Regional Banking Long-Term Talent Strategy

The world has certainly experienced a turbulent several years dominated by large macroeconomic events. Who knows what the future holds?

The good news is that with Digital Workers you don’t have to worry about pivots, market dynamics, and other unforeseen changes to talent at your regional bank.

To learn more about how Digital Workers can help you rethink your long-term talent strategy to de-risk growth in 2023 and beyond, please watch our webinar, “Stop Hiring and Start Automating.”

For ways to help your organization adopt Digital Workers and automation, please download this complimentary Gartner report, “Help Employees Embrace Automation in Financial Services.”

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