Seal Software: Ethical automation in finance
In this month's FinTech Magazine, Stuart Brock, Director at Seal Software, discusses the firm’s Contract Discovery and Analytics platform, the cutting-edge tech driving it, and Seal’s automation ethos that hits the right note with clients and employees alike.
Seal Software’s Contract Discovery and Analytics platform provides firms in the financial sector, from banks to insurance providers, with the means to maximise revenues and mitigate costs associated with administrative processing. The platform, capable of scanning a vast variety of document types to extract the information and store it intelligently, provides firms with a catalogue and search engine of contracts from across their networks. Stuart Brock joined Seal as a Director after the firm acquired Apogee Legal in July 2018 and since then he has been crucial to the management and development of the company’s financial services platforms. With a history of digitisation reaching back to the transition from paper documents to CLM software at Bank of America, Brock now manages the firm’s financial services programme and provides crucial expertise.
Contract Discovery and Contract Analytics facilitates digital transformation for a myriad of players in finance, and Seal successfully blends this technological prowess with industry expertise. “That brought a host of industry experts to the table,” Brock says, reflecting on Seal’s acquisition of Apogee Legal. “We are unique in that we can talk shop with our clients.” This knowledge expedites Seal’s problem-solving capabilities for its clients when tied with the quality of its platform. “Instead of hiring ten people to extract information from your contracts, you can simply load them into Seal and get that same level of review and that same level of insight in hours as opposed to weeks.” This automation is made possible by advanced artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and cloud technology. “We are looking at how can we get the most information out of the data for our clients in the quickest, easiest way, and in a way that meets their security concerns,” Brock says, “So we bring all of these technologies to the table, we overlap them, we layer them so that we can, for example, dig into a vendor paper contract and get to the issue of organisation of liability. Instead of having to look for a certain pattern or group of words, our analytics on the platform can actually dig through all those parts and pieces and pull them up on the supplier.” This immediacy is compounded by the platform’s ability to learn and utilise new information, enabling clients to leverage a flexible system that can be tailored to their unique requirements. “And we’re constantly looking for the next new thing,” Brock adds, “The thing that might help give us a better take on the analytics, the thing that might help us report that information better or more quickly.” Seal is currently developing a solution that can assess and report the level of risk in a contract, offering immediate insight for contracts that require additional assessment. “We find our clients are chomping at the bit to get their hands on this. It’s something that will help them to improve their own processes, and repurpose their staff so they’re focusing their interest or their review time on those risky positions.”
With automation comes concerns about the replacement of human staff with efficient digital equivalents, particularly where the increasingly powerful and capable AI is concerned. “We are in, as far as AI goes, an explosive time of growth,” Brock observes. “I think the one factor that gets the most attention is are we replacing humans with machines and putting people out of jobs, and what does that mean over the long term?” Brock insists, however, that Seal’s platform does not eliminate employee roles so much as enhance them and the experience of work. “I honestly believe, and I see this in the clients that we work with, that you are not putting people out of work. Instead, you're repurposing those folks to do work that benefits from the human brain versus the machine brain, work that is more valuable to the company and offers a better quality of life for that person,” he says. “You're not having them churn out the same thing over and over, and that person as a general rule has a better day of it, and they like what they're doing much better than what they were doing before.” This increase in role satisfaction is beneficial to the company in itself and, by repurposing an employee’s time while the job they were doing before has been automated, the company in question can enjoy an increase in productivity on a day to day basis. “We still need humans,” Brock adds, “and I don't foresee them going anywhere anytime soon.”
When it comes to training the platform in the specifics of a certain industry, users are understandably curious as to where that data comes from and to whom it pertains. For Seal, security is embedded in everything the firm does, and Brock notes that no customer information is ever used without that customer’s express consent. The platform is instead trained with publicly available contracts, of which there is no shortage of relevant data, with which Contract Discovery and Analytics can learn the tricks of its trade. “At this point, we have passed all of the security reviews that our financial services companies have given us, and that speaks to how seriously we take security,” Brock says.
Seal’s client-focused automation ethos is certainly integral to its ever-expanding success. Brock highlights the accomplishments that Seal has enjoyed over the past year, and the growth of its brand and reputation within the financial services industry. “We've consistently added top-notch international companies to our list,” he says. “The unique alignment of technology and subject matter expertise is, at least in my mind, putting Seal well out in front of any of the competition.”
This article first appeared in the March edition of FinTech Magazine.
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