As the expectation of customers is shaped by online retail experiences and the move to digital has been accelerated due to recent events, firms are challenged to create intuitive and simple onboarding processes for their clients. Any barriers that are put in the way will have a negative impact from the outset and, at worst, result in clients abandoning the process.

To create a good experience, it is not only the customer facing technology that matters, but the efficiency of your internal processes that support each step of the client journey. When considering the onboarding process, firms need to look holistically at back-office process efficiency and client facing engagement – and the impact each has on the other.

For some, the onboarding process can be complex, with regulatory and compliance requirements and identity checks needed; however, these dynamics do not change the fact that the process is time-critical and can make or break the client relationship.

Where are the opportunities for improvement?

Reducing overall process complexity

One issue is that the onboarding process can still be largely manual and labour intensive. Many organisations issue forms to be completed; they must be sent to the customer, likely as a PDF or in paper format, then the customer must print, sign and return.  This creates an enormous gulf between the type of service available and modern expectations in the digital age.  

It’s not just the digital experience that needs to be simplified; dependent on your target demographic it is vital to ensure that all channels are optimised for the benefit of the client experience and for your own internal efficiency gains.  If some of your clients still require the ability to transact via postal mail, for example, then this channel needs to be recognised, optimised, and prioritised alongside your digital efforts so as not to impact customer service and reputation. 

Firms must ensure that the onboarding experience and core process steps are consistent across channels, whether via web, mobile, email, phone, in person, etc… by adopting an omnichannel approach.  Your customers also want to know where they stand in the onboarding process via real-time personalised communication.  They seek to have as much visibility as possible, from progress status to updates on activities and any delays. 

Regulatory Compliance Requirements

Tighter regulations designed to protect consumers and curb fraud have resulted in stringent requirements around information gathering, document verification and fact-checking during the onboarding process.  Organisations that continue to rely on gathering of key client documents solely in paper format will not only have inefficiencies throughout the onboarding process but will also face challenges responding to information requests from regulators in a timely and cost-effective manner.  

Failure to comply can result in significant financial and reputational risk. Lack of proper compliance systems for geographic-specific regulations such as Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML), for example, can result in substantial fines. 

Disconnected systems and information silos

Disconnected, aging systems can be a drain on your business’ time, personnel, and bottom line.  Information silos are common – systems, content management, compliance systems, back-office systems and platforms tend to be spread out, sometimes with little interoperability.  Inputting and integrating the information requires manual effort, making it difficult for colleagues to quickly access relevant information and meet client needs in a timely manner, as well as integrate new products within the existing architecture. 

How can automation help?

Client onboarding is not merely a back office or administrative function. It can be your firm’s key competitive advantage, and the ease with which your firm can quickly acquire data and disseminate it throughout the process is critical to effective onboarding. 

Automating processes across multiple channels, such as mobile, web portals, branch networks and third parties, is recognised as beneficial for lessening the time it takes to open an account, cutting costs and providing a better customer experience.  

How can your organisation best employ the power of digital to develop a comprehensive, client-focussed process? In a study conducted by Aite Group, the following characteristics were identified as key: 

Omnichannel – employing mobile and web technology to capture images, documents and relevant data using the customers’ existing devices. 

Accuracy – using solutions that are able to directly extract data accurately from pictures of the physical documents, a critical component of the onboarding process. 

Automated – investing in workflow tools to automate and track the completion of process steps. 

Visibility – providing front-office staff with transparency over the process and alerts. 

Consistent experience across channels and devices – ensuring that the customer’s experience is best-in-class regardless of the customer’s method of engagement with the firm. 

Efficiency – meeting clients’ expectations for speed, while managing regulatory risks. 

Fast and compliant onboarding

We provide technology solutions that streamline the initial information-intensive interactions between your firm and your customers, eliminating labour-intensive, slow and error prone processes that can damage your firm’s ability to win business.  You can digitally capture forms and essential documents such as IDs (passports, driving licenses, etc.), proof of residency (utility bills, etc.) and more at the point of origination – when and where customer interactions actually occur, whether at a branch office, or via web or mobile channels – and launch automated processes and real-time monitoring of workflows that reduce onboarding cycles to a fraction of the time they normally take.  Data is automatically captured, extracted, and integrated into the correct workflow and routed to the appropriate department or employee – no manual tasks are required, and errors are eliminated. 

Embrace is helping us realise substantial productivity gains that not only improve the quality of the work that our people do, but it removes those frustrating manual tasks that don’t really need to be done by a human in today’s tech world.”   

Countrywide Conveyancing Services 

Harnessing client technology to create a simple and consistent process

For some businesses, there is an opportunity to better utilise the technology that your clients are familiar with in their daily lives.  Your customer’s mobile device can essentially serve as a “scanner” that automatically captures, extracts, and classifies data from any type of document. Document production and e-signature technology enables your clients to sign documents on their mobile phone. Integrated into the overall onboarding process, the solution employs flexible, rule-based workflows that ensure the correct process steps are followed. New account documents are securely stored and tracked, regardless of format, making content easier to manage from point of entry to final archive, delivering efficiencies that can increase your firm’s ROI and reducing the risk of regulatory non-compliance. 

Alternatively, for those wishing to still submit documents via post, email or online forms, the same processes can be adhered to by utilising scanning and capture technologies to extract data from documents sent in paper or digital formats. 

Removing processing gaps and inefficiencies

Your firm can increase system access, integration, and compatibility to ensure existing technology investments are maximised. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can be used to fill the processing gaps that exist between your CRM, business systems, and workflow applications across the enterprise. Disconnected systems and departments will no longer create processing bottlenecks and your team will be relieved of the burden of manual data entry and data look-ups – increasing satisfaction and allowing people to invest more time in their core activities.   

In summary 

By harnessing the power of document management, imaging and workflow software, firms can take a giant leap forward, simplifying and streamlining time-consuming and manual tasks, reducing costs and providing a superior service to clients – instead of shuffling paperwork.  An integrated approach is key; a solution that seamlessly integrates with business systems to enable advisors to have single click access to important client documents, which speeds account opening, enables faster time to revenue, and enhances the overall customer experience. 

Embracing digital technology means that organisations can reduce client inertia and speed up the process – resulting in faster time to revenue, reduced costs, and increased profitability. 

“Working with Embrace Digital has been a collaborative affair and they have taken the time to understand our business. They are very responsive to all our needs and have proved very proactive in bringing solutions to the table. We look forward to continuing to work with them.“  
Glenbeigh Records Management 


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