Digital onboarding of wealth customers: what, why and how

Being the wealth manager of choice for millennial customers also means keeping pace with the winds of change
That it is imperative to allow a customer to self-onboard digitally, is now a given. Be it the self-service kiosk at the airport, or having a retail banking account created, the need for a physical interaction is long past. Why then, would a millennial wealth customer be any different? Welcome to the world of digital onboarding – be there or be gone.

What: defining digital on-boarding 
Offering a portal for the customer to onboard oneself or delivering an omnichannel experience is just the technological angle to the paradigm of digital onboarding. The subject here is much more significant.

The name of the game is in being able to condense the steps involved across lead generation, customer analytics, need assessment, product recommendation and account opening all together into a consolidated experience that is offered digitally. And this takes a little more than a good technology platform. Let’s explore this further.

In the not so distant past, the lead generation of a classic wealth management customer was all about the personal touch of the senior relationship manager, and having a deep, engaged conversation that helped profile the customer and his or her needs, and reverted with a set of products that were eventually recommended. This was followed by an account opening process, which was also made to be convenient with a digital experience.

Well, that can no longer sustain itself with the emerging millennial, young wealth management customers – and that is not a small segment if one considers the fact that $1 trillion is being passed from one generation to another every year.

The mantras for a successful digital on-boarding experience are three:
1. Make it intuitive. Asking the right questions without seeking pre-existent information already known about the customer is fundamental here. More than 50% of the negative experience recorded in the first interaction is when the wrong question is asked. The benefit of using an ID capture technology is not only for Know Your Customer (KYC) purposes, but also to be leveraged in automating the capture of pre-existent information.

2. Make it quick. Turnaround time and minimal paperwork are two sides to the coin of the onboarding experience. While providing tailormade advice is fundamental, doing so without spending too much time with paperwork is equally important. Avoiding multiple data entries and ensuring there is no re-keying of data are mandatory for a good onboarding process

3. Make it engaging. The propensity for a customer to attrite is highest within the first 90 days of onboarding, and this is primarily a derivative of how granular the engagement levels and metrics of experience are monitored. Even while the TATs need to be quick, the engagement levels need to be high. A well-defined customer journey-map profiling each stage of the onboarding process and the moment-of-truth therein is core to the quality of engagement.

Why: the writing is on the wall
Having a mobile-first user experience that is subsequently rolled out to other channels is fast becoming the norm for any industry that predominantly deals with the new-age customer. When customers are switching from one channel to another seamlessly, any successful wealth manager would also need to be able to provide an omnichannel experience including social media connectivity. Not only does this help divert customer engagement from experienced call centre channels to more cost-effective online chats and social media, but also to deal with being relevant in the right place at the right time.

Interestingly, client advisors spend more than 30% of their time on non-client facing activities and making it convenient to have web-enabled account management and video calls for an anytime-anywhere experience can also drive the overall cost structures down.

The concept of digital identification, document management and an automated AML is not only about the customer experience – it is also about enhanced compliance. The list of regulations that the industry is now dealing with is entirely unprecedented. MiFID II, CRS, AML, UCITS, AIFMD, FATCA, Dodd-Frank, EMIR, BASEL III… the list goes on.

At the core of regulatory compliance is the quality of data and the timeliness of its capture. An automated approach to on-boarding customers also accelerates the absorption of pre-authenticated information using established ID, without having to recapture or re-enter.

The common benefits of digital onboarding are, mostly, the following:

  • Dealing with demands of the new-age customer
  • Keeping the costs down, with minimal paperwork
  • Building a superior experience with reduced TAT
  • Driving enhanced compliance with better quality data

How: it’s much more than just technology
Ultimately, it’s the experience of the customer that matters. However, the experience is not just about the technology platform, and digital on-boarding is also not just about the experience.

There are seven elements that need to be in place for any digital onboarding framework to eventually be successful.

1. Client awareness. Have we sufficiently made the customer aware of the digital onboarding model? There is no point in having a best-in-class platform that remains uninhabited.

2. Process hand-offs. Is there a well-aligned convergence of self-service, other channels and in-person engagement? Nothing can be more irritating than a disjointed channel experience.

3. Product offering. Is the product offering deep enough to meet the need of the new-age customer? Remember, the ambience of the restaurant can never substitute for the quality of food served.

4. Capturing and nurturing data. Does the onboarding process sufficiently authenticate the sanctity of data and subsequently in its effective processing? Ultimately, data is the feeder that drives insights of the customer.
Trained organization. Is the front, mid and back-office organization aligned with the digital onboarding model? It’s not just about orienting the customer, but successful transition lies in having the advisors and the operations team well trained.

5. Technology roadmap. Do we have the right roadmap to sustain the digital onboarding experience – be it an in-house application or a third party platform. Is there a roadmap for sustained feature enhancement and support? This is not a one-time investment.

6. Technology roadmap. Do we have the right roadmap to sustain the digital onboarding experience – be it an in-house application or a third party platform. Is there a roadmap for sustained feature enhancement and support? This is not a one-time investment.

7. A great digital onboarding framework will only make the customer sign into the enterprise with an expectation for an equally great product offering and engagement experience – if not more. Living up to that expectation is critical. More than 50% of attrition happens within the first 12 weeks of the customer coming on board – and the successful wealth managers are those who embrace and respond to this reality.

“A well-defined customer journey-map profiling each stage of the onboarding process and the moment-of truth therein is core to the quality of engagement.”