What Panda Talks About When It Talks About CRM
August 23, 2022
A Recap on this Year’s Asia iFX Expo Asia 2022
October 13, 2022

Should Brokers Replace Humans with Technology?

Take a look around your brokerage. Consider how your personnel are divided between your various departments, and the kinds of activities individual teams are tasked with throughout their shifts. You could be a broker with a large call centre, one that places a heavy emphasis on content creation, or one that runs a small team and prioritises automation. Perhaps you have plans to make changes. If you do, and have considered the above, then you’ve probably already reached the following conclusion.

The specific “shape” of your business is actually something of an accident. Departments swell and shrink over time due to an unpredictable market, a changing regulatory landscape, and, of course, due to the evolution of certain available technologies. Quite often that shape is not the most efficient, which is partly why there’s such a high turnover in our industry.

Perhaps you recently hired and trained a whole team to deal specifically with credit/debit card rejections, only to have the problem go away thanks to a new PSP relationship. Or maybe you had to beef up your back office and CS during a bull market when traders were flocking to your registration form, only to have them twiddling their thumbs during the bear market that inevitably follows.

How We Think About Automation

Usually, the debate is framed as a kind of arms race between technology and human beings, with improvements in automation and AI seen as machines taking jobs away from people. At Panda we look at this issue from a completely different perspective. We don’t think of automation and AI as anti-human, we view the mindless tasks those technologies are best-equipped to handle as anti-human. In other words, having a person spending entire shifts on a repetitive task for months on end, and then letting them go when there’s less of that repetitive task for them to do, that’s anti-human.

The family of AI technologies that we’ve been incorporating into our brokerage systems act as machine helpers for human teams, aiding their decision-making capabilities, as well as taking care of the kinds of repetitive data entry and verification tasks that digital systems are ideal for dealing with at scale.

In our experience, the AI modules we’ve been introducing over the past couple of years have helped smaller teams compete with bigger brokers, rather than leading to layoffs by replacing human members of staff. Whether it’s automatic document verification, preemptive customer support/retention, or customer call sentiment analysis, we’ve seen these technologies increase the reach of brokerage teams, allowing each individual to gain the most out of their own efforts in terms of productivity, rather than being used in the interests of downsizing.

What’s Your Mindset?

For us at Panda, the typical argument against automation sounds like it comes from a poverty mindset. If you use automation to get rid of staff, all this says is that you don’t know how to utilise your people for anything other than the most ordinary tasks. The truth is that many brokers have a tendency to over-hire when they’re growing and can be ruthless in making cutbacks during lean years.

But you don’t tend to see brokers cutting their workforce when they’re doing well. The kinds of AI functionalities we’ve been switching-on in our brokerage products actually help teams be more productive rather than replacing them.

An example of this is the ability to maintain a consistent level of service with the same sized team, even through periods of peak traffic. Our AI document verification module has already conferred this benefit on dozens of back office/compliance teams.

Another example of this is our Next Call AI product, which gives sales and retention teams the ability to be far more surgical and timely in their efforts to reach out to customers.

These systems also pass their benefits up the chain of command, allowing team leaders, department managers, and C-level staff to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the performance of their respective teams, as well as the ability to implement their strategies/management styles.

The M-Word

There’s an elephant in the room of our industry, and you don’t hear it being discussed very often because it makes us look bad. When we asked you to take a look around the corridors and office spaces of your brokerage at the beginning of this article, it’s safe to say that most of you weren’t looking at something that looks like it belongs in The Wolf of Wall Street. Maybe you’ve worked somewhere like that in the past, but most modern, even loosely regulated, CFD brokerages don’t look like that anymore. So, why do we still treat our employees as if they’re as expendable as penny stock salesmen?

The untold story of automation in our industry is that it reduces staff turnover by improving your core team’s efficiency and reach. This lessens the need for the kinds of hiring/firing cycles that often follow boom/bust cycles in underlying asset markets. This is great for morale, a word that often gets forgotten in an industry where we sometimes take the dog-eat-dog philosophy of markets a little too close to heart.

In our view, automation frees up human beings for creative and interpersonal tasks, which they’re much better suited for anyway, and gain the most from in terms of job satisfaction. It also facilitates inter-departmental communication and mobility, as you don’t require individuals to be shackled to unproductive, rote tasks. These things are all excellent for the morale of your employees.

Compare this to never knowing who among your colleagues will be the next to go, or whether it will be you. Morale often gets overlooked in favour of the constant need to keep the FTDs flowing, but not everyone does their best work in an environment that resembles The Hunger Games. Finding and keeping the best people, making them feel integral to the company’s success, these are the considerations of a company that intends to be a force in 15 years, rather than a short-lived experiment before its founders move on to other things.

For free consultation

Request a Call