First published in December, 2022
Wealth Management firms should weigh the cost and benefits of investments whenever they consider a technological change.
But in a world where increasingly sophisticated technology is making transformational changes in the way businesses operate and grow, calculating the return-on-investment (ROI) requires more than a simple equation, says Sudhish Sasidharan, a Solutions Consultant with JIFFY.ai, an autonomous enterprise platform for the wealth management industry.
“We are an intelligent automation company, so when an organization partners with JIFFY.ai to drive transformation, they are looking to be able to justify the proposition through some kind of financial gain, as in any other business investment,” Sasidharan says. “The calculation—be it ROI or any other metric—is basically an indicator of the attractiveness of that investment to the organization.”
Even though automation brings in tangible and intangible benefits, during the early phases of technology decisions, tangible benefits take precedence. So, many investments depend on the ROI calculation, which is the return or financial benefits realized from an investment versus the cost incurred.
“There are two aspects to how we go about running that analysis. One is a cost-benefit analysis where we look at the 360-degree benefits, considering all tangible and intangible benefits,” says Sasidharan. “The ROI indicator focuses more on the tangible and makes the business proposition more attractive because it is often used to justify decisions. It can be measured relatively quickly, it is very primary in nature, and it helps enterprises to realize the value or at least have a projection on the value they can realize.”
ROI is an absolute indicator of how potentially successful an automation can be, where success can be realized, and how soon it can be realized—all key variables for firms to consider before making a technology investment.
Considering and calculating intangible costs and benefits is more time consuming, because it is more about customer and user experience—information that is difficult to normalize and quantify.
For example, a bank may seek to use technology to improve its customer onboarding experience, which often involves putting the customer through a series of forms, paper or digital, and checks along the way, leading to a delay of 24-48 hours before an account can be funded. On the back end, automation can make the process more efficient, enabling the bank to onboard more clients quickly and easily. From the user’s perspective, the experience improves dramatically. Not only making the process more friendly, the interactions with the firm are more value driven than merely transactional.
A better experience helps customers form a much more superior impression about a business in terms of its effectiveness in delivering the right level of service, Sasidharan says.
How JIFFY.ai Helps Wealth Managers Calculate ROI
“We run a very sensitive check,” says Sasidharan. “ROI is measured by percentage of cost—cost versus the value realization—or the benefit in financial terms divided by the cost. So, let’s say the ratio of cost to benefit is 100%–that means the money that was spent on automation has been realized as a benefit and you break even. If it is at 200%, the cost has been realized and the same amount of money has been realized as an additional benefit.”
Calculating the benefits
While assessing the benefits of implementing automation, JIFFY.ai’s experts consider these parameters: what is the firm’s definition of a significant financial benefit depending on the level of process automation; and, what is the cost they incurred in performing this activity manually on a daily, monthly, and annual basis.
So, if the firm is spending 320 hours-a-day performing a set of activities in a process, and 80% of that process gets automated using JIFFY.ai’s technology, automation can reduce the number of full-time-employees necessary to complete the task from eight to less than two.
Sometimes, the calculation is more of cost avoidance than cost reduction. Suppose a firm has 10 people processing 100 transactions today, but upon entering a new market it will have to process 1,000 transactions in a day. Instead of hiring 90 more people to manage that surge in volume, automation can be used to handle most of it.
Technology can also add the benefits of being precise, timely, auditable, and easily controlled. In general, it helps organizations to avoid various types of risk—in the case of wealth management firms, automation helps to avoid costly regulatory risks as well.
JIFFY.ai’s cost-benefit calculations also consider time and rate-of-change. The benefits of automation, especially when linked to machine learning and artificial intelligence, tend to grow over time as both the user and the technology learn more about each other.
By when can firms start assessing the benefits of implementing automation?
“The first year can be looked at as an investment into automation,” says Sasidharan. “The investment year is ‘year zero’, and the year after investment is ‘year one’—that’s when we can start assessing benefits realization.”