Digital tools and automation are becoming standard in all industries, including financial services, like commercial lending. Robotic process automation (RPA) promises to maximize efficiencies across operations by using easy-to-use, no-code software that is able to glean data and generate insightful reports or accomplish menial tasks like data entry and synchronization.

Therefore, data is the lifeblood of any modern, digital organization. It can be put to use for any number of purposes. But for data to provide valuable insights, it needs to be structured in a coherent way. Sometimes data is stored in different formats or different places, and requires an IT department to track down and codify. 

Structured and Unstructured Data 

Data comes in many different forms and complexities. It’s a seemingly endless list of information that could refer to transaction details, images, compressed codecs, timestamps and so on. 

Structured data refers to quantitative data that is formatted for reporting and analysis, whereas unstructured data is a form of raw data that is not readily codified or intelligible. Unstructured data requires additional manipulation and classification to be used in a given format. Unstructured data requires a thorough pre-processing step. It’s an unavoidable task if you wish to generate accurate financial statements, reporting packages and other scenario analyses. 

Until somewhat recently, data processing was an entirely manual process, which was both time-consuming and error-prone. Difficulties often occurred when using financial data from a general ledger to create and analyze reports for strategizing. For commercial lenders, taking the time to manually aggregate all of their customer’s data and mining it together in spreadsheets takes enormous time and labor. 

The Trouble With Financial Statements 

Financial statements are critical for commercial lenders to analyze when determining whether or not to issue a loan. The trouble is they contain a ton of data, stretching back years, and don’t always come in a uniform format when handed over to lenders. These include: 

  • Credit reports
  • Personal and business bank account statements
  • Personal and business tax returns
  • Income statement
  • Balance sheets
  • Cash flow statement
  • Accounts receivable and payable aging
  • Debt schedule
  • Business plan
  • Business licenses

So when presented with years’ worth of unstructured income statements and balance sheets (which may be formatted differently by each customer according to their processes), lenders were left with the task of spreading this informationally manually, sifting through the documents and keying in pertinent information into columns on Excel before performing calculations to determine debt to income ratio, etc.

The amount of unstructured data involved in determining the financial health and future of a business has, until now, occluded the possibility of robotic process automation. However, new technologies that leverage advanced optical character recognition (OCR) and intelligent APIs have enabled software developers to create programs that can turn unstructured data into legible information. 

FlashSpread Reads Unstructured Financial Data to Generate Comprehensive Reports for Deep Analysis  

Digital lending solutions like FlashSpread can help commercial lenders generate comprehensive and insightful reports on business’s cash flow, balance sheets, income statements and more.

By utilizing optical character recognition (OCR) technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) FlashSpread can significantly increase the alacrity of inputting analog data into digital space. 

The improved maturity of our AI and ML technology has enabled the ability to automate repeatable processes with unstructured financial data. In addition to an improvement in speed, FlashSpread boosts accuracy for automated processes and seamlessly integrates into your lending processes. 

Advancements in technology can be a boon for a variety of data analyses including financial spreading. By leveraging these modern technologies, you can dramatically increase the efficiency and expediency that is required of these tasks. 

While these technologies can be complex, FlashSpread’s no-code solution, any company can deploy these time-saving tools up quickly and easily. Learn more about what FlashSpread can do for your organization by scheduling a free demonstration today.