Today, new customers want—and expect—fast decisions and actions. They’re used to speedy responses from consumer-facing service providers and expect the same from their financial services vendors. But onboarding a new client is a sticky subject.

According to a study by Forrester, onboarding takes up to 34 weeks for financial institutions that do onboarding manually and up to 12 weeks for companies that only use some basic forms of automation technology. In addition, the process involves multiple departments such as front office, operations, risk, legal, credit, compliance, tax, and more, creating a byzantine, time-consuming procedure. According to Adobe’s 2020 Digital Transformations report, losing a client during onboarding is a business’s greatest threat to revenue. Actual losses: In 2020 alone, the global commercial banking market lost $3.3 trillion due to abandoned applications during onboarding.

 

Technology to the rescue

The good news is that 62% of financial services are already deploying some type of customer onboarding technologies, and 21% are planning to do so, according to a recent study of customer experience of financial services customers by Microsoft. Today, these solutions enable digital and automated processes to replace paper-heavy and human-intensive ones, turning those 34 weeks into much more acceptable timeframes. 

With numerous options for digital customer onboarding software on the market, financial services firms need to evaluate which will best fit their needs. Among other things, leading solutions harness artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to tame the barrage of paperwork involved. 

Here are some considerations for bringing in new technology:

 

Future-proof at the speed of the cloud

The banking and financial services sectors are increasingly recognizing that the cloud-based approach is the way of the future. The move to the cloud offers significant business advantages that permeate through the entire business, including a faster time to value, lower onboarding and maintenance costs, and the ability to eliminate data silos.

In the “new normal” of remote banking transactions and with the shift towards a more agile enterprise, financial services firms must choose technology that can evolve and adapt as things change. That means selecting a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that will support your business needs today and beyond.

 

Supports compliance during ever-changing regulations

One of the top priorities of financial institutions is to maintain compliance with the large—and constantly growing—regulatory requirements, such as KYC, AML FTFCA, Dodd-Frank, CRS, MiFID II, EMIR, and others. Precisely because regulatory mandates are constantly evolving, the software must enable you to easily update business rules, form fields, and document requirements in response to changing regulations. When selecting software to extract information from documents and forms—including paper-based ones—to automatically feed the information into the onboarding process, for example, make sure it includes a clean trail to the data sources. Hence, you’ll always know where the information originated from and can provide accurate reporting during audits. 

 

Easy to use

Given the many parties that partake in the onboarding process, it is critical to enable every user with a solution that’s easy to navigate. For your customers, this may mean an intuitive interface that captures as much of the information as needed at once to reduce follow-ups. For your internal team, you’ll need a solution that empowers non-technical users to immediately derive the benefits of the solution without a steep learning curve or heavy support from IT. For example, an automated data extraction solution that a business user can configure empowers the business to be agile while accelerating the overall processing of an applicant. This is a win-win-win for the company, the new customers, and the internal team responsible for an efficient onboarding process.


Plays well with existing solution

An onboarding solution can’t be a silo. It must integrate easily with other systems, enabling financial institutions to leverage their existing technology investments in business process automation and other tools. Whether the solution comes pre-configured with out-of-the-box APIs or enables mass integration through 3rd party vendors—you have to ensure that the tech you’re acquiring mashes well with your customer relationship management (DRM), robotic process automation (RPA), and other systems and applications. 

 

Focuses on the customer experience

The customer experience is everything in financial services. In today’s distributed environments, clients expect to open a new account from anywhere and from any device. Customers should enjoy a swift, consistent experience regardless of whether they initiate the process from a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer. They should get the same experience whether they go online, walk into a physical branch, or use a call center. And that onboarding experience should be seamless with the experiences they get as they develop their relationships with their financial institutions. 

 

Start within

At the heart of the client onboarding process is real-time data extraction that instantly transforms unstructured emails and other documents into process-ready data. With such a tool, you can accelerate funding rates, improve efficiency, increase account funding rates, and reduce time to funding by more efficiently onboarding your clients. 

Not incidentally, you’ll also remove data entry from your employees’ list of responsibilities giving them time for higher-value tasks like handling large asset transfers or complicated rollovers. You’ll give clients faster access to their account information and set the stage for new client experiences such as self-service, which is proven to increase client satisfaction and loyalty.

To learn more about optimizing the client onboarding experience, join our upcoming webinar to see how technology can be a real game-changer for your business and your customers.

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