Author: Sakari Mäkinen / Digital Solution Manager
Date: 2021-11-30

Digital Customer Onboarding: New growth in the Wealth Management industry

The wealth management sector has changed significantly in the last decade, as client demographics have evolved and a new generation of investors demands a digital-first approach for their services. 

Today, wealth management is about so much more than providing investment advice. In order to give a personalised experience that includes all elements of their financial objectives, asset managers must get to know their clients as individuals. Therefore, the digital onboarding process has become a vital and integral part of business in the wealth management industry. Digital tools and automation have revolutionised this process, enabling wealth managers to offer a higher level of service and giving digital-savvy customers a better experience. However, we have noticed that many companies' current and past digital transformations have focused primarily on the front-facing process and digital services. These processes are not always linked to the back-office operations, resulting in manual actions, low level of automation, and fractured customer journeys for the end-users.

The digital customer onboarding process is still a relatively unchartered territory. To realize the need for digital onboarding, we must understand that almost everything is or will move into the digital realm due to the current pandemic. Customers at every level of the spectrum are heavily involved in digital platforms, and they expect a seamless online experience from their asset manager. This article will talk about digital onboarding, such as utilizing electronic documents and forms, how time-consuming and resource-intensive some of the processes can be, and how they limit the experience. Let's get started.

What does digital onboarding mean in wealth management?

Being digital-first is now a requirement for survival in financial services. To cater to their customers' needs, asset managers must provide tools that enable digital experiences from the front office. This includes digital document request and upload forms, which can be used during the onboarding process, and subsequent documents such as trade confirmations and digital tax reports. Asset managers must also set the expectations and communicate their services to both digital-savvy and less digitally oriented customers. The onboarding process is the first step towards a digital experience for the new clients, and they must understand your digital brand promise before committing to working with you.

With the onboarding process, customers are introduced to your company’s digital experience. This means that the documents must be easily accessible through all channels such as landing pages, mobile sites and applications. In addition, customers often demand how they can use certain technologies in their own way during the onboarding process, and service providers should always be ready to accommodate them.

In addition to being able to access the documents in digital channels, customers also expect intuitive online forms they can fill out to get the ball rolling with their onboarding journey. In particular, digital onboarding tools must provide a seamless customer experience from the moment a potential client decides to work with you to the moment they have all of their documents in hand. Therefore, digital onboarding must be orchestrated seamlessly across the customer journey with tools that are easy-to-use and understandable.

“Today's wealth managers should strive to combine personalised service with a technology-enabled approach to doing business.”

Digital Onboarding challenges in Wealth Management?

The digital customer onboarding process presents service providers new challenges, especially for companies that are at the beginning of digital adoption. 

Some of the most common challenges that indicate a low level of digitalisation in organizations are: 

  • Silos between tools and data prevent companies from creating a comprehensive client profile across channels

  • Company is unable to identify clients across digital properties and devices

  • Cross-platform content workflows are too complex

  • Developing, processing and digitalising forms & documents contain a lot of manual processes

Data silos occur when different properties and channels do not share the clients' data and content. This is the main issue that the majority of companies face across industries. When data and digital properties are not integrated, it becomes difficult to view a client's digital footprint across them. In addition, if content is not available or readily accessible (due to manual processes), companies may struggle to create new content, making onboarding slower or even impossible.

Onboarding forms for Wealth Management clients involve extensive content and data capture; knowledge of the client's requirements, strong electronic identification and verification.

A significant challenge that wealth management companies face is manual processing of onboarding forms, which results in slow onboarding times, lack of efficiency and errors.

The majority of companies we work with have multiple touchpoints across the digital onboarding process. For example, a form may get started by one party, get sent to another for data capture and verification or signing before being submitted back to the triggering party. This kind of fragmentation of touchpoints can be inefficient and time-consuming due to the manual processes involved. If companies can seamlessly connect digital forms across different touchpoints, onboarding becomes more manageable, improving information capture, and making the process a lot faster.

Case Study: Moving to Digital Reduces 95% of Form Errors.

One of my favourite digital transformation case studies is from a U.S. company in the Wealth Management industry. When they were onboarding clients, data accuracy was imperative, which was not the case with them. Typically, PDF forms completed by hand often result in “Not In Good Order” (NIGO) submissions that require time and manual work to resolve. When they replaced their paper-intensive process with a digital strategy, they were able to eliminate 95%. of NIGO errors.

"The New Age of Client Onboarding in Wealth Management" - Smart Communications

How to orchestrate digital onboarding?

Managing the digital onboarding process requires orchestration capabilities to streamline your service delivery, improve information capture and ensure the onboarding process is error-free.

Traditionally, onboarding processes have been divided into different departments' responsibilities. This has typically led various teams to improve the processes from their perspective at different touch points, rather than company-wide end-to-end customer journey. This has led to a situation where the client might encounter fragmented experiences during the journey that are not fully optimized from the end-user’s point of view.

Each company's digital onboarding journey is unique, and we work with companies from the planning phase through transformation until they have completed the orchestration of their onboarding process. 

At the core, it is about how you orchestrate one-to-one personalized experiences. When the service delivery is integrated with knowledge, you can orchestrate digital onboarding and provide personalised experiences for your clients.

So, how do we assist our clients with this?

We work with companies on their digital transformation initiatives and help them design and fit together the pieces in their onboarding puzzle. We start by going through how to increase content velocity by decreasing manual workflows, building modular content, and dynamically assembling it. We can help our clients speed up their content production by offering modular content creation capabilities to create, re-purpose, and reuse the content.

Another common challenge are the different forms and workflows generated from them. Whether the forms are in digital or paper format, these are some quick wins you can invest your time to optimise the experience and automate the workflows to minimise possible human errors. And that's the reason why most companies want to start by digitalising their onboarding forms. Once the onboarding forms are digitalised and orchestration is in place, content can be created easily by pulling data across all digital touchpoints. 

As digital customer onboarding becomes more important, companies need to optimise and automate their onboarding processes and orchestration capabilities. If you are interested in learning how to do this for your business, do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to help you on your onboarding process by providing personalized experiences that are seamless across the entire digital journey - from form completion all the way through post-purchase follow up.

Comments are most welcome and appreciated