At the very beginning there was onboarding, soon onboarding turned into relationship, relationship turned into partnership, and everyone lived happily ever after. Not your usual fairy tale, yet, talking more business wise, every wealth management firm would love to tell such a success story – and upload it on its website.
The thing is, not every story has a happy ending, and while some firms succeed in this venture, others simply do not. Why? And where can wealth managers take action? Let’s start from the very beginning.
What to better bear in mind
Onboarding happens early – not to say originally – in the overall client relationship, true, but it definitely sets the stage for future developments: experience, engagement, trust, loyalty, partnership.
If it satisfies expectations, the clients will most likely go on in the process of building a relationship, starting with the right foot. If it’s “average”, then there’s 50% of chances that the client will carry on the relationship (and other 50% he will not) but reserving the chance to switch provider if the next steps of the relationship do not meet certain criteria. If it’s considerably below expectations, then the client will probably leave before the real conversation has even started. In short, it’s a make or break in terms of client relationship and expectations seems to be moving the needle.
Mixing apples and oranges
Looking back in time, for years before Covid-19 onboarding has been paper-intensive and involving different internal teams, typically leading to a slow process that could take days, or even weeks and everyone were roughly ok with that. Now clients’ expectations have extensively changed, keep evolving at a rapid pace and are further shaped by an increase in service comparison beyond the scope of peer financial providers. Consumers are today accessing more services than ever before – we are talking retail, travel brands, brands like Amazon, Netflix etc. – and experiencing ease of use, extreme efficiency, quick delivery. Yes, they are mixing apple and oranges, but at the end of the day they set them all side by side, measuring to what extend they successfully meet their expectations of simple, paperless, fast processes, omnichannel accessibility and won’t settle for anything less. Wealth management firms cannot afford to fall short on this!
Let the frontmen take their chances
As the front-line process in the relationship with your next client, excellent onboarding results in a seamless ecosystem where all the features – biometrics, ID wallets, e-signature, risk profiling etc. – are integrated, automated, digitalised and omnichannel, end-to-end. It means customers would be able to interact with the advisor via their smartphone, laptop or any channel of their choice, or pause the onboarding process and resume the journey exactly where they left off, anytime. Automation will minimise significantly manual processes, so that key information is entered only once and managed directly via an automated workflow from application to application, this way avoiding repetitive actions for the clients and errors that may result from data replication and handovers between internal teams.
For advisors, automation will result in accelerated processes, making it easier to onboard more clients in fewer steps, cost and time savings, increased productivity and enhanced process efficiency.
Beyond first encounters then, onboarding is really a matter of client relationship and needs to be considered part of a bigger client experience and technology is the fuel that makes it glow – when it’s state of the art.