Royal Bank of Scotland-owned high street bank NatWest is trialing an artificial intelligence tool “to improve and monitor the quality of information and advice provided during regulated customer conversations”.
The UK bank will use the Recordsure compliance tool based on artificial intelligence (AI) from regulatory risk specialist TCC Group in order to record face-to-face and telephone conversations between the bank and its customers – with those customers’ consent, naturally.
The recordings are encrypted and uploaded to a secure cloud in real-time, NatWest said. The technology then allows both parties to play them back via an audio file stored on servers in data centres housed at former UK and US military facilities, built to protect data and people in the event of a nuclear attack.
The AI technology is able to analyze an interaction and then classify sections of the conversation, according to Recordsure’s creators. For example, it could determine which aspects of the conversation were general chitchat, which involved financial advice, and what topics were discussed.
The Recordsure technology is classed as ‘regtech’, a niche of the wider fintech space. The idea is that the AI tool will learn to better understand interactions between the bank and customer’s over time. As it learns, it will be able to help drive efficiencies in NatWest’s compliance efforts, something which Recordsure claims it can improve by up to 50 percent.
Les Matheson, CEO of Personal and Business Banking at NatWest, said: “We want to restore trust and give customers complete confidence in us. Last year we scrapped bonuses for frontline staff so customers would know our advice was based on their needs, not commission.
“This trial goes even further and we look forward to seeing how it can improve the service we provide.”
The initial trial will involve NatWest’s mortgage advisors, while the bank explores other areas that could benefit from the technology.
In 2014, RBS and Natwest were fined almost £14.5 million by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) watchdog, for serious failings in mortgage advice given to customers.
According to the FCA’s report: “The issues with the sales process included affordability assessments failing to consider the full extent of the customer’s budget when making a recommendation, failing to advise customers who were looking to consolidate debt properly and not advising customers what mortgage term was appropriate for them.” Bank staff also offered personal views on the future movement of interests rates, the FCA found. Two reviews of sales from 2012, meanwhile, found that in over half the cases, “the suitability of the advice was not clear from the file or call recording.”
The Recordsure/Natwest announcement follows recent news that RBS has rolled out “the first financial industry hybrid bots in the world”. The AI chabtot service provides customer’s with a better online experience by answering frequently asked questions about things like online banking.