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Empowering Business Users to Shape the Future of Client Onboarding

Josh Seeman, Senior Director, Financial Services Solutions
April 7, 2021

Onboarding institutional clients is one of a financial services institution’s most critical functions, with direct implications for client experience, servicing, and relationships, that all significantly impact profits. What’s at stake during the onboarding process? Client loyalty, experience, referrals, and profitability. How many touch points across departments—front office, operations, risk, legal, credit, compliance, tax—can potentially elongate the onboarding process? The answer is, too many.

Too often manual, paper-based processes include multiple forms requesting repetitive information, and document hand-offs present operational risks because of insufficient security and privacy controls. This added complexity, coupled with regulatory requirements, results in a process that requires significant employee and client effort and that is expensive and time-consuming, sometimes taking up to 12 weeks. Processing delays incur opportunity costs and may impact drop-out rates if the client’s assets are not invested in a timely manner.

To complicate matters even more, many global banks have more than 50 onboarding systems. Yet, despite spending nearly $228M on client onboarding, gaps in the process are generating $15 billion in regulatory violations, according to a recent KPMG report. This is expensive from both a cost and a client experience perspective. Clients can be contacted as many as 10 times during the onboarding process through email, phone, face-to-face meetings, and other channels. This results in a high-friction, error-prone customer experience.

Why all this complexity? Simply put, client onboarding is complex. Regulations differ across jurisdictions and processes require lengthy negotiations and documentation. Financial services institutions bogged down by technological and process issues struggle with agility—a prerequisite for client onboarding excellence. Organizational complexity can inhibit the ability to adopt transformational technologies. Relationship managers and onboarding teams burdened by fragmented processes may be unable to adapt to quickly changing business strategies and regulations. This limits their ability to onboard clients in a timely manner, negatively impacting client experience and delaying time to revenue.

Empowering the Business User

Financial services institutions need a simple, modern onboarding solution that increases speed to market, provides business-friendly control over the entire process, and offers them a real differentiator in customer onboarding. Organizations who do well in this area stand to gain significantly. According to McKinsey, every one-point increase in customer onboarding satisfaction on a 10-point Net Promoter Score (NPS) scale generates a 3% increase in customer revenue. Financial services institutions can rapidly realize real profits. For example, onboarding $500 million worth of new customers per year with an onboarding satisfaction score improved by just one point could equate to an additional $15 million per year. 

The best solution to this challenge is hidden in plain sight—financial services institutions’ own people. With the proper tools, organizations can empower line-of-business problem-solvers who have drive and determination to engage in technology, even if they lack traditional coding skills. These employees interact with customers daily, so they know what customers want—including access to sophisticated applications—and they can identify challenges to productivity and solutions that increase efficiency. Front-line employees with this business knowledge can partner with IT to turn ideas into applications, then get these applications to market quickly and efficiently, freeing up IT to focus on deeper architectural concerns.

The first step to empowering these “power users” is to give them closer control of the programs they work with. For instance, let them help decide which features to include in their application infrastructure. This not only lessens the burden on your IT department, it helps your organization avoid paying for functionality end users don’t want or buying off-the-shelf software that does not fulfill their requirements. Handing certain aspects of application development over to end users, with constant communication between business and IT sides, makes more sense. Furthermore, compliance with complex regulatory rules and their impacts demands fluid collaboration between business and IT. Without it, your organization adds an unnecessary layer of risk. 

The power of a low-code automation platform

The next step is selecting a proven technology solution like Appian’s Connected Onboarding for Financial Services.

According to leading research and advisory firm Gartner, “By 2024, low-code application platforms will be responsible for 65% of all application development activity.” But that’s not the only benefit a low-code automation platform offers. A low-code automation platform can accelerate time to value, streamline end-to-end onboarding, and provide business users with unprecedented visibility and control.

Line-of-business teams can set up the organizational process to meet their needs, remove “noise” by streamlining only user-relevant information, and manage client relationships through events, not just transactions. This not only puts end users in control and reduces the burden on IT departments, it also delivers a data-informed view enabling a deeper understanding of macro consumer trends and more targeted service offerings to individual customers.  

Appian’s Connected Onboarding Solution puts the power to manage the business aspects of managing complex onboards where it belongs aka with the business users to configure in-process without IT development and ‘connect’ resources required including people, systems, data, and modern ways of managing including AI/ML, Robotics, Document Management, Pre-Defined Industry Integrations, and Digital Signatures via one connected solution.

A competitive edge for financial services institutions

Forward-looking financial institutions are embracing low-code automation to drive superior value for customers and employees. Low-code enables faster innovation, sharper decisions, an enhanced customer experience, improved operational efficiency, and stronger compliance in a constantly evolving regulatory landscape.

Low-code automation enables financial institutions to be hyper-responsive, delivering business applications faster than ever before and rapidly iterating on existing applications to exceed their customers’ ever-growing expectations.

Low-code automation also gives organizations the ability to break the client experience down into its component parts to build and strengthen every stage of the relationship, from pre-onboarding to post-onboarding to transaction processing and offering new products and services. A low-code solution should support client interactions, foster the rapid development and implementation of new products, and help the organization meet legislative and regulatory requirements. Overall, the solution should help the organization surpass client expectations and discover opportunities for sustainable growth.

With a low-code automation platform, financial services institutions can:

  • Create customer records that act as a single source of truth for all interactions, across the organization
  • Integrate with legacy systems for finding data and strengthening service offerings
  • Eliminate paper processes and reduce email 
  • Manage requests across internal and external channels, products, and stakeholders

In conclusion

Today, too many financial services institutions struggle with siloed legacy systems and back-end data issues that hamper efforts to streamline processes, improve efficiency, and build loyal relationships with customers who expect easy and fast service. Successful organizations will use customer onboarding as an opportunity to shorten processes, obtain better data, and improve customer satisfaction—and revenues. One place to start is by empowering business end-users and leveraging Appian’s Connected Onboarding for Financial Services Solution to decrease operational risks, accelerate time-to-value, and create improved customer experience. Visit to learn more.