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Wealth managers: Your complicated onboarding processes are driving investors away. Here’s how to fix it.

Paul Hutchins, Log in to subscribe to the Blog

Wealth managers have an unprecedented opportunity to capture a share of the $70 trillion that is transferring from baby boomers to the younger generation. But to succeed, they must be hyper-focused on the first level of personalized service their clients will face – onboarding

Wealth firms are losing money and suffering increasing abandonment rates because their customer onboarding processes are painfully slow, complicated, and frustrating.

The baby boomer generation generally has a history of one-to-one personal engagement with their financial advisor. Their onboarding experience was high-touch and most likely face-to-face. This differs greatly from younger investors who demand – and expect – a digital-first approach with fast processing times and limited visits to physical locations. But in many cases, the onboarding process is mired in an aged platform without the enabled technology to deliver a seamless customer experience.

For the most part, digital disruption hasn’t really improved the end-to-end onboarding process in wealth management. Across the industry, customer onboarding is still a highly manual process that can take between two and 34 weeks to complete. The result is a high percentage of new customers abandoning their accounts because the onboarding process was too complicated.

These onboarding timelines are not sustainable in an industry that is now heavily focused on asset aggregation and the portfolio fees generated from assets under management. Delays also contribute to lost revenue as well as missed cross-sell and upsell opportunities. However, the most significant impact is the damage these delays can cause to the client relationship, especially during a time when the advisor is setting the tone and laying the framework for a long-term, trusted partnership.

Wealth firms must find a way to significantly reduce onboarding timelines while still meeting the regulatory challenges posed by Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements.

At many firms, the onboarding process still has a lot of manual steps. The process is often overly administrative, with extensive paperwork that is more focused on satisfying internal compliance rather than focusing on what is best for the client. These fragmented manual processes, combined with complex local and global regulations and repetitive due diligence activities, are driving longer onboarding times and time to revenue, increased costs, higher customer dissatisfaction, and non-compliance.

To solve this problem, wealth firms must take a digital-first approach.

They must engage their customers in their channel of choice and provide an end-to-end digital experience that efficiently collects customer information. They must also create an operating environment where the process is:

  • Fast – We know that to thrive in the digital economy, where emerging market clients are conditioned to placing orders instantly with other providers (i.e., Amazon), clients need feedback within minutes, not days. This can only be accomplished if the process is simple and seamless.

  • Transparent – Wealth managers need visibility into the process and must be advised of middle- or back-office bottlenecks that concern their clients and slow the process so they can quickly intervene and take corrective action.

  • Compliant – The process must have safeguards in place to ensure compliance with all relevant laws and regulations (i.e., Know Your Customer (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML) tax reporting, privacy regulations, etc.).

Applications, like Pega, that automate and orchestrate customer onboarding can give you a competitive advantage.

An application with omni-channel capabilities that enables onboarding at the point of contact – and at the customer’s channel of choice – gives your sales, traders, assistants, credit, compliance, legal, fulfilment, and customer service teams the ability to view and manage the onboarding lifecycle. This full visibility is critical in enabling your teams to understand where each customer is in the process and allows you to accelerate the onboarding process and time to revenue by implementing crucial business process improvements, including:

  • End-to-end workflow automation with easy, quick integration to enterprise and third-party systems eliminates manual processing and repetitive document requests.

  • Global reuse of current due diligence and KYC documentation presents the required due diligence (rather than existing due diligence), ensuring consistency while minimizing transaction time.

  • Automated case creation, routing, and rules simplify and streamline front- to back-office processes.

  • A unified platform with automated SLAs and escalation rules prioritizes and routes due diligence activities among multiple users for timely and accurate evaluation.

  • A unified, omni-channel environment that makes it easy to onboard multiple customers and initiate cases across all channels and devices.

Pega delivers industry-leading onboarding and KYC applications to automate client journeys from onboarding through to offboarding, with proven rapid implementation methodology allowing our clients to deploy in as little as three months.

With Pega, compliance and onboarding are 70% faster.

Pega is ranked the leader in client lifecycle management, onboarding, and KYC applications. That’s why we are trusted by more than 40 leading banks, including the world’s largest corporate and investment financial institutions.

Implementing a fast, customer-centric, compliant, end-to-end onboarding process will significantly improve your relationships with your customers. This seamless process will drive faster revenue, be the catalyst for a much richer client lifecycle, and ultimately facilitate the onboarding of more customers.

Learn more:

Pega Onboarding

Industry-leading onboarding and KYC applications.

Case Management

Orchestrate work from end-to-end.


Industry: Financial Services Product Area: Onboarding Solution Area: Acquisition and Onboarding Topic: Operational Excellence

About the Author

In his role as Pega’s Senior Director and Industry Principal for Financial Services, Paul Hutchins advises some of the world’s most recognizable financial brands on opportunities for growth, engagement, and digital transformation.

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