Investment firm embraces robotics, while embarking on recruitment drive

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AJ Bell, the Manchester-based investment firm, is increasing automated work processes, as well as its physical workforce.

It announced today that it has selected Blue Prism’s robotic process automation (RPA) software to increase operational efficiencies and enhance customer experiences.

At the same time, the company is expanding its IT team by 15 staff, as well as appointing a new chief technology officer role.

Blue Prism’s connected-RPA software will enable AJ Bell to utilise digital workers (software robots) to automate labour-intensive and routine back office administration functions.

AJ Bell said this will reduce the risk of error, enhance the service customers receive, and improve productivity, while ensuring compliance with regulations, where necessary.

For example, a customer with a regular direct debit paying into their Individual Savings Account (ISA) can hit their subscription limit before the end of the tax year.

If that happens the direct debit will be suspended for the rest of the tax year.

This currently involves contacting the customer and manually suspending the direct debit. The digital worker can take over these routine tasks, thus reducing costs and, importantly, freeing up staff to do more value-added tasks that will be of greater value to the company and its customers.

In addition to the tie up with Blue Prism, which has a regional office in Warrington, AJ Bell is expanding its IT function as part of its continuing growth, with current expansion plans including the recruitment of 15 new roles in addition to the new CTO role.

The CTO will join AJ Bell’s executive management board, leading the development of the company’s technology strategy and assuming responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the IT function.

Michael Summersgill, chief financial officer at AJ Bell, said: “Robotics is a fascinating area that has the potential to automate processes that are important to ensure we deliver the right service to our customers, but are currently quite labour-intensive.

“With the introduction of connected-RPA technology we can get these tasks done quicker and with a reduced risk of error.

“Blue Prism’s digital workers will be a great addition to our business, but it is important to understand that this is not about reducing staff numbers.

“The continued growth of our platform business means that we will need to continue to grow our workforce, in fact we are continually investing in our IT department and we are currently looking for a CTO to come in and lead the team through its next phase of growth.”

Established in 1995, AJ Bell is one of the largest investment platforms in the UK with assets under administration of £44bn and 204,000 customers.

The business floated on the Stock Market late last year, and in January this year it was valued at more than £1bn.

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