Onboarding a new wealth management client is a time-consuming deal and due to the complexity and need for compliance, it certainly has the potential for risk.
So, what kind of challenges and risks are we looking at while on-boarding new wealth management customers:
1. Unstructured information from disparate documents: There's typically a significant amount of information that needs to be collected, organised and uploaded into new wealth management firm’s line of business system. To make matters worse, this information is typically provided in disparate, difficult to process unstructured formats; paper-based statements or at best - PDF or excel spreadsheets.
2. Customer Due Diligence : Wealth management companies are obliged to perform customer due diligence in the form of KYC and AML processes before any transactions can be made. These CDD processes are time-consuming and can only be undertaken by qualified individuals.
3. High Expectations : New clients move to new wealth management firms for many reasons and customer service is likely to be high on the list. As on-boarding is one of the first the first processes the new client will experience, it’s critical that it’s as pain-free and transparent as possible. Put another way, there’s a high focus on Customer Experience (CX). For this reason, the process needs to be super-easy, super-fast and as frictionless as possible.
4. Loss in Productivity : The productivity of expensive human talent (e.g. wealth managers and para-planners) is reduced when on-boarding processes are sub-optimal. Having to manually key data from documents into systems impacts profitability, increases cycle times, apart from introducing errors.
5. Low Operational Excellence : As evidenced by low re-work & high compliance rates, this aspect is difficult to attain in firms where on-boarding is either poorly implemented or highly prescribed, i.e. few options/flexibilities. Moreover, retaining good people is more challenging when processes are difficult to manage and involve manual processing and delays.
6. Unless on-boarding processes are 100% digital, routine and exceptions reporting are especially burdensome. Data security and protection is paramount; crippling fines are imposed on firms that fail compliance.
Customer Due Diligence (CDD) is a prescriptive process that can be successfully automated. For compliance purposes, it's essential that the CDD process is logged and audited, an area where automated solutions really excel.
Typical Solutions for On-boarding in an 'Intelligently-Automated' World
1. Digital 100% of the way using familiar devices and systems
- Where possible, adopt mobile-first strategy for client facing tasks. This includes submission of key documents as clients will be familiar with the task of 'snapping' a picture of a document. What's critical for excellent CX is near real-time confirmation such as - the correct document was submitted, and data accurately extracted. From an operational excellence perspective - no data should ever 'land' outside of the process
- Even when a client submits paper-based documents, Intelligent Automation will speedily convert these to digital form and critically, will also retain the look and feel of the document
- For documents that were 'born digital', the system will automatically utilise the data without additional processing. Documents can be submitted as PDF, MS Word and Excel as well as those in HTML forms
2. Augments tasks that need to be managed by human knowledge workers
- Complex processes such as on-boarding new wealth management clients require substantial tacit knowledge, and thus need to be managed & driven by experienced and qualified human talent
- However, mundane tasks within the process can and must be handed off to ‘digital assistants’ - this is the automation element
3. Providing high levels of ID & verification as a part of the process
- Documents submitted should be automatically checked and verified using internationally approved standards and methods
- Additional step such as the capture of a ‘selfie’ should be incorporated to increase the integrity of the data and processes
In Concise Words
For reasons that are somewhat obvious and described above, on-boarding new clients is a critical area for reasons of optimising 'customer experience' and ensuring high 'operational excellence'.
The cost of getting it wrong can be very severe - at best case poor team morale and potentially a lost customer, and worst case is a fine from the regulator with the associated reputational damage.
Clients expect a slick, frictionless experience so that they can quickly engage with Wealth Manager to ensure their financial future is secure - they do not want to suffer the pain of a broken or sub-optimal on-boarding process to cloud their decision making.
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