How to Implement a Paperless Client Onboarding Process in Wealth Management
A how-to guide for integrating paperless onboarding into your wealth management firm.
The nuts and bolts of implementation.
You have the high-level reasoning behind your decision to go paperless, but what does it practically look like to introduce a digital onboarding platform to your firm?
The details of implementation will look different from firm to firm, but there are three basic steps that will apply to every firm going paperless.
Step 1: Choose a digital platform
This is likely the most important step for your firm.
The success of your client onboarding process will thrive or die based on the quality and fit of the platform you choose. Despite best intentions, you may end up with a system that is difficult to navigate, causes friction between advisors and administrators, and is confusing to update and maintain.
Here’s a checklist of items to look for in the platform you choose:
- Straightforward for clients to use even if they’re not digitally fluent.
- Information is simply compiled and organized for administrators and advisors to regularly access.
- Data sources are integrated for fast KYC checks and updates.
- IT doesn’t need to be called every time you make a simple update to a page.
However, you’re not just constrained to the platforms that are out there. You also have the option to build your own digital onboarding platform. Building your own system from scratch has its pros and cons.
The primary advantage to building your own platform is customization. When building your own system, you can create a product that is specific to your firm. Does the timeline need to change? Do you need to change your focus last minute? When creating your own onboarding platform you can do just that and you can do it all on your own timeline.
Yet, building your own digital onboarding platform has its cons. While you’ll have the freedom to customize your system, it will require much more time and money than hiring an external vendor. The implementation and launch of your digital platform will have a high chance of being delayed and running into complications, due to hiring an IT team who will work from the ground up. What’s more is by the time you finally finish your platform, it will already be out of date, while external vendors have been continuously releasing updates every few weeks to stay current. Ultimately, building your own platform will demand more of you and will have less chance of providing the outcome you desire.
To build or not to build is an important decision. Weigh out the pros and cons to see
what’s best for your employees and your clients.
Step 2: Convert paper forms to digital forms
There are a lot of forms that clutter advisor and administrator desks. There are tax documents, risk profile documents, general data collection questions (name, marital status, address) and much, much more.
During this step, these forms and others will be consolidated and brought into the system. This is more than converting a PDF into a fillable PDF. This is uploading and converting every onboarding form in your firm into digital forms to make a simpler process for your clients.
Here are four perks that will come with every digital form.
Completed fields: No more sending forms back after the client has forgotten to fill in a field or provide a signature. With the right digital forms, the client won’t be able to continue unless all required fields are filled.
Information never repeated: Your client will never have to fill out the same information twice. For example, if they put in their mailing address in one field it will show up the next time it’s asked for. No more treating existing clients like strangers.
Adaptable: Clients can fill in these forms at a cafe, at work, or at home on their laptop. These forms are adaptable for mobile use and will function on any web browser.
No wet signature needed: No more printing out a form, signing it, then scanning it back. Clients enter an email address and password in order to sign their forms digitally.
Your firm has a lot of paperwork and it will take some time to consolidate all the forms into one system. But, after every form is uploaded into your onboarding automation system, you’ll start to see the organizational efficiency that comes with paperless onboarding.
Step 3: Upgrade to Guided Web Pages for your biggest pain points.
For every firm, there are forms that advisors are reaching for before they know the details of their client’s needs. These are the handful of forms that are used for almost every client who comes through your firm.
The next step in implementing a paperless onboarding platform is upgrading your most used digital forms to guided web pages. While fillable forms are convenient and functional, guided web pages create a fast, intuitive experience clients latch on to.
What is a guided web page?
A guided web page is a tour guide and intelligent application form rolled into one. It will instruct your clients as they fill out the form and will prevent them from making common errors. It’s also smart and will only ask for pertinent information. For example, if a client says they’re single, it won’t ask for any further information reserved for married people.
Guided web pages will help retain clients for three reasons:
Helpful: Clients won’t abandon the onboarding process due to confusion or filling out unnecessary information. The guided web page will help them along the way.
Recognizable: Filling out a form on a guided web page will be much like your client’s experiences on other websites. It will be a familiar, delightful process.
Accessible: Guided web pages aren’t exclusive. Both clients and advisors will be able to access them from any browser and any device.
If fillable forms are a Prius, guided web pages are a Tesla. They’re innovative, personal, and complex. But their complexity is also what makes them the most time consuming of these three steps. Creating a guided web page for all of your forms would take years. That’s why they’re best reserved for those forms that are used repeatedly and seen by the majority of your clients. Though they are time-consuming to create, they’re the icing on the cake of the paperless onboarding experience.
Implementing an onboarding automation platform won’t happen over the weekend. It’s an investment. But it’s an investment that has proven to retain clients during the onboarding process, drive client referrals, cut administrative costs in half, and provide advisors the opportunity to concentrate their efforts on revenue generating objectives.
If you’re interested in putting these three steps into practice, start by reading this free eBook on “How to create a paperless onboarding platform in wealth management.” It will give you a further overview of digital onboarding and will talk about next steps for implementing a paperless onboarding platform at your firm.