Where there is a paper-bound process, there is a demand for a document imaging specialist. Any paper-driven workflow can benefit from digitization, i.e. using document imaging solutions to convert paper into searchable digital content that is easier to store, search, and retrieve. One of the most paper-driven industries has to be financial services. Banks, credit unions, accountants, brokers, and insurance underwriters are all bound by tightly controlled paper processes. They can also get more benefit from document imaging systems, but to help them maximize those benefits, you need to understand some of the unique applications and considerations that impact financial services.
The ROI from document imaging and electronic content management for financial services have been proven. Consider one global financial services company that realized savings from $56 million to $80 million by digitizing paper processes to relieve the workload of back office staff, especially in the areas of mortgage and transaction processing. Or consider the insurance company that decided to centralize administration by taking documents from their branch offices, digitizing them, and storing them in a central data repository. They saved $3.6 million in paper and copying costs in 12 months and the system paid for itself in eight months. Another insurance underwriter was able to shorten long cycle times for paper processes and save $6 million annually by eliminating paper.
To gain mastery as a document imaging specialist for financial services, you need to appreciate the unique business and regulatory requirements for financial institutions. Here are just a few considerations:
Regulatory compliance – There are a number of government regulations designed to monitor and manage financial transactions, depending on the nature of the institution:
SEC and FINRA – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) have specific regulations regarding stocks, securities, and financial trading. SEC Rule 17a-4(f), for example, outlines requirements for the creation and preservation of all security transactions. Implementing proper paperless processes and archiving assures SEC and FINRA compliance.
Sarbanes-Oxley – Corporate governance, including financial disclosures for public companies, fall under Sarbanes-Oxley. Paperless processes are a boon to corporate disclosure and oversight, ensuring procedures are followed and proper records kept.
The Patriot Act – Even the Patriot Act has an impact on the financial market, requiring financial service companies to verify and prove who owns foreign accounts to make sure they aren’t inadvertently funding terrorist organizations or other hostile groups.
Government regulations could call for an audit at any time. By converting to paperless processes, all paperwork is properly marked, stored, and searchable for eDiscovery, which helps assure compliance.
Paperless processes and e-signatures – To expedite paper processing for taxes, mortgages, and other types of financial transactions, secure data archives and paperless processes make it simpler and faster for clients to review and sign paperwork. Tax filings, for example, have become virtually paperless, with CPAs sharing electronic forms and information with clients and filing taxes electronically for faster returns. Digitizing paper processes also creates an audit trail and ensures that deadlines aren’t missed.
Streamlining loan applications – Whether you are borrowing money from a bank or a mortgage company, processing a loan requires proof of income, financial records, tax records, and range of other paper documents. Even the most complex loans can be simplified using digital processes. Electronic documents can be easily forwarded for review and authorization, even if stakeholders aren’t physically available to provide a signature. Paperless processes also make loan processing faster, which can mean the difference between closing on a new home and losing it to a rival buyer.
Analytics and big data – Consolidating financial paperwork means you have a central repository that you can use to assemble data for financial analysis and to assess market trends. Big data analytics allows you to analyze both unstructured or scanned records and structured data from worksheets and databases. The resulting insight can be used for more accurate projections and business decision-making.
Of course, all the conventional arguments that apply to any business to adopt paperless processes apply as well. Using document imaging and managed print services streamlines offices operations, saves paper, saves staff time filing and hunting for lost files, and saves IT time managing printers. However as a document imaging specialist focusing on financial services you want to talk about those challenges that are unique to financial institutions first. Focus on regulatory compliance and the returns from faster, more efficient processing of paperwork. Bring your financial expertise to the sales process as well as your expertise as a document imaging specialist and show you can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.