The automation balancing act

Matt Neibling, current as of: 15 February 2019.

The professional advisory sector, almost more than any other, is experiencing the efficiency dividends that process automation delivers in terms of reduced:

  • repetitive manual input
  • errors
  • time wastage/resource wastage
  • operational costs

BUT……this is not a binary conversation. It’s not as simple as wholesale adoption of automation or otherwise ignoring it completely. By automating processes that add little, if anything, to the client relationship, you are freeing up staff for more high value work and improving operational efficiency.

Automation of low value tasks enables staff to concentrate on the areas where they can drive best outcomes for clients. In the world of Acis, it means our people focus on removing the potential for error, providing specialist expertise where needed, and mitigating against the risk of structures not operating in the way in which they’re intended.

While fully automated systems may deliver lower initial costs, you ignore at your peril the risks of damage to your reputation, your business and your clients’ businesses through relying on automation to deliver everything. It reduces the value of human interaction with your clients, in much the same way as an ATM does if it replaces a bank branch.

And a critical point to consider is that you – not the supplier of the automated system – bears 100% of the responsibility for the outcomes. Where does the pain lie? With you.

Why shoulder the burden?

There is a role for human expertise and scrutiny over even the most common processes around business structures.

A common example arises in relation to timelines required under the Corporations Act where many automated systems allow for the entry of non-complying dates into ASIC notification forms. When this has happened in the past, clients have turned to the Acis team to step in and assist in resolving the issues that arise. In several cases, the client hasn’t been aware that documents weren’t compliant until they were requisitioned by ASIC.

We’ve written in previous issues of Acis All Areas about the potential for issues to arise with deed amendments. Our team physically looks at every deed to ensure they include appropriate powers that allow clients to make the changes they wish. In the case of system-generated documents, clients can enter any information they choose into certain such fields, meaning documents are often invalid.

People trump machines

I came across a great quote from Michael Blake of Findex recently: “…the purpose of implementing automation is to ensure the best level of client service at the most effective price and client service is always best when it is person-to-person, not person-to-machine.”

This balance is something the Acis team works towards on a daily basis. Whilst we continually utilise emerging technology to deliver time saving integrations to our clients, our system relies on the expertise and oversight of our client and legal services teams. In 30 years of doing business, we have never lost sight of the importance of bringing the very best expertise to your benefit.

It’s clear to us that AI is not yet well developed in the legal document space and, while there’s plenty of talk about it, there is nothing available that replaces people or accepts responsibility.

We believe it’s our role to provide the safety net for our clients when it comes to establishing business and investment structures. The added layer of human oversight is what makes this model possible.

A robot won’t take responsibility for your business, but people will.

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