First impressions matter. When onboarding a new client, you’re setting the tone for your entire relationship.
Is your client onboarding experience building trust and making your new client feel comfortable and confident, or is it sparking doubts about you and your firm? And how can a tech-enabled onboarding process elevate your client’s experience?
Today’s clients expect seamless, tech-forward service from all businesses they interact with (not just the e-commerce giants). In fact, according to a recent McKinsey & Company report, 50% of high-net-worth investors feel their wealth managers should step up their digital capabilities.¹
So, if your tech is a bit behind the times, you’re certainly not alone. But if you can address those technological gaps, you stand to make big gains in clients’ eyes. A tech-enabled onboarding process can go a long way toward distinguishing your firm from the rest of the pack.
In this blog post, we'll explore why a seamless onboarding process is crucial for financial advisors and how eliminating technological hurdles can enhance client relationships and drive business success.
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How the Financial Advisor New Client Onboarding Process Shapes Impressions About Your Firm
The onboarding process is the first time you interact with new people in an advisor-client capacity. Yes, you’ve spoken to them as a prospective investor, but the dynamic shifts once they’ve signed on with your firm. They’ve committed to putting their financial future in your hands and want to be reassured that they’ve made the right decision.
This is why the onboarding process is a significant trust-building opportunity.
What exactly are clients looking for in these early interactions?
- A tech-enhanced experience. As you saw in the statistic above, half of high-net-worth individuals surveyed want their wealth managers to improve their tech game.¹
- Personalization. A study from McKinsey identifies personalization as a key driver of client satisfaction in wealth management.¹
- Responsiveness. Most US consumers expect responses to customer service inquiries within a day.²
- Security. One in three consumers have had their personal information stolen. People are understandably wary about cybersecurity threats, and 33% of respondents to that 2022 ISACA survey say they’d cease doing business with an organization that failed to keep their information safe.³
If your onboarding process raises doubts about your firm’s ability to meet these standards, you’re starting your new client relationship off on the wrong foot.
Technology To Improve the Client Onboarding Experience
A tech-forward experience can help you address all four areas of concern. Tech can enable greater personalization at scale while enhancing your ability to respond quickly and securely.
Secure online messaging is a vast improvement on more traditional forms of communication. Snail mail and fax leave significant room for error. If your client’s package with personal identifying information (PII) is lost in the mail or faxed to the wrong number, that information is out there.
Presenting clients with secure, encrypted messaging channels and a seamless e-signature process allows you to show how seriously you take cybersecurity.
It also helps you address concerns around responsiveness. A digital onboarding process is much faster than a hard-copy, analog one. And if you’re working with younger investors, they likely don’t own a printer⁴ (and might never have laid eyes on a fax machine).
E-signature tools make it easy for anyone to download, read, sign, and return onboarding documents in minutes.
Technology to Enhance Personalization in Onboarding
A tech-enabled onboarding process allows you to add a layer of personalization to your communications.
You may invite your new clients to engage with behavioral finance tools that help them understand their mindset around money. You could send them a virtual questionnaire to gauge their risk tolerance and appetite.
All of this information will help you get to know your new client as a person, and it will directly influence your ability to make more personalized investment recommendations.
Additionally, you can send specific educational materials to new clients tailored to their needs.
If you’re working with a young investor just starting their first corporate job, you can send them your FAQ sheet about 401(k)s. If your client is about to enter retirement, share a link to your explainer video and worksheet on how to budget when you’re living on retirement funds and social security.
A tech-enabled onboarding process allows you to easily share relevant resources in various formats (written, video, audio, interactive checklists, or questionnaires).
Plus, all your communications are logged in your centralized client database and CRM. Your team gets visibility into what’s already been sent to a client, so there are no duplicated efforts.
Technology To Streamline Your Team’s Onboarding Workflow
A bad onboarding experience isn’t just unpleasant for your clients — it can also have negative ramifications for your team.
Inefficient, outdated, or siloed onboarding processes lead to lots of wasted time. A tech-enhanced onboarding process creates clarity and speeds up the entire experience for your team.
This starts with a shared onboarding workflow and checklist. When you have a set list of steps to follow for every new client, you don’t miss anything along the way. And when the workflow lives on a shared, secure tech platform, your entire team has visibility into who needs to do what and when.
Your colleagues can also see where each client is in the onboarding process so they know when they’re “on deck” to complete their portion of the work. When they know where each new client is in the flow, they can better manage their daily workload.
A shared, secure document storage space saves your team time in filing, arranging, and accessing vital onboarding documents. If you’re still using paper processes, imagine the hours you could get back in your day by eliminating the printing, collating, processing, and filing of hard-copy onboarding documents.
Digital forms and e-signatures also significantly reduce the time spent on back-and-forth client communications. When your team can send one secure digital package for e-sign, you shave days off of an analog onboarding process, where you must mail documents and wait for them to be sent back.
Technology to Reduce Your Firm’s Onboarding-Related Risk
Technology can provide significant benefits to your clients and team members. A tech-enabled onboarding process also serves a broader purpose for your firm: It can help reduce compliance and cybersecurity risks.
Encrypted communication channels help keep your client’s PII safe. Relying on a secure, cloud-based storage solution for those onboarding documents helps you ensure long-term cybersecurity while enabling your team to access documents from anywhere.
A shared onboarding workflow that lives within your secure tech stack also helps you track vital compliance processes.
Technology can log who from your team sent necessary client disclosure forms. When your technology automatically records and stores this information, you have it on hand to pull for an internal audit or to show regulators.
These benefits of tech-enabled new client onboarding can add up to a competitive advantage. When the process is faster, simpler, and more secure for all parties involved, you reinforce the image of your firm as forward-thinking and adaptable.
Such firms stand out in a crowded market, attracting tech-savvy clients seeking modern solutions. Remember, in the race to win and retain clients, a smooth onboarding process can make all the difference.
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1Source: "US wealth management: A growth agenda for the coming decade”, www.mckinsey.com, February 2022.
2Source: "Acceptable response time for customer service according to consumers in the United States as of June 2022", www.statista.com, June 2022.
³Source: "The Impact of Cybersecurity on Consumer Behavior", www.isaca.org, October 2022.
⁴Source: "'Quit sending millennials things to print at home': Why does no one own a printer any more?", www.thenationalnews.com, July 2020.