Client onboarding is the first opportunity for wealth managers, private banks, broker-dealers, asset managers, multi-family offices, universal banks, and retail banks to win over new customers. Setting the tone for the entire relationship going forward, the onboarding workflow must be fast and seamless so customers can immediately start to benefit from products and services that will help them reach their goals for their life and finances. Excellent client onboarding helps financial service institutions improve customer experience, increase revenue, enhance process efficiency, and guarantee compliance in all operating jurisdictions resulting in a 225% ROI compared to traditional onboarding.

Onboarding Best Practices 101: How to Improve Client and Member Onboarding

Client onboarding is the first opportunity for financial advisory firms, private banks, broker-dealers, asset managers, multi-family offices, retail banks, credit unions to win over new customers. It really is the first step to building a long-term relationship with your new clients—which means that your onboarding experience must be fast and seamless so customers can immediately start to benefit from products and services that will help them reach their goals for their life and finances.

When done well, it can mark the beginning of a productive and profitable partnership. Done poorly, however, and you may see unwanted churn.

Well-thought-out and personalized client onboarding helps financial services firms improve customer experience, increase revenue, and enhance process efficiency.

So how can you create a smooth client onboarding process? Alternatively, improve the one you already have? Before diving into best practices around onboarding, let’s discuss why this process is crucial to your overall business success and client satisfaction.

The benefits of having a smooth onboarding process

Client onboarding isn’t just a nice add-on—it is a crucial business strategy. When done effectively, it leads to:

  • Less churn: Did you know that clients are three times more likely to churn during the first 90 days? Advisors should aim to build relationships and demonstrate value early on in the client’s journey to help them stick.
  • More efficiency: Onboarding helps you just as much as it helps your clients. It provides you with need-to-know information at your fingertips, leaving you in the best possible position to begin working for a client. As a result, this helps you increase efficiency and avoid bottlenecks further down the line.
  • Happier clients: Clients want to work with advisors who know what they’re doing, have a clear plan of action, and build strong relationships. When you demonstrate this, not only will your customers be happier, but it’ll also positively impact your reputation, which brings us to… 
  • More clients: By ensuring your customer’s satisfaction early on, you’re far more likely to build strong relationships, upsell existing customers in the future, and gain referrals based on your excellent work and customer relationships.
  • Ensures compliance: Having a well-thought-out, highly repeatable onboarding process helps to ensure that compliance is already built into everything you do instead of simply becoming an afterthought, including document retention and demonstrating that onboarding documents were delivered to clients.

Remember—not all onboarding processes are created equal. To reap these benefits, you must build a system and optimize your onboarding process so that you’re fully enabled to do efficient work and build effective long-term relationships.

Onboarding best practices to building great relationships from the start

1.   Make paperwork easy… for everyone

Streamlining the paperwork process shows new clients you are trustworthy and reliable, and it helps establish clear lines of communication.

Make sure all required agreements are ready to go and easy for clients to understand and sign. We highly recommend leveraging a Digital Vault platform like FutureVault for secure document exchanges to take place to house all onboarding documents in one location.

Using a digital signature tool like DocuSign, among many others, for your signature workflows significantly reduces unnecessary back-and-forth communications and makes it easy for clients to sign and return documents instantaneously.

FutureVault’s DocuSign integration, is a game-changer that enables you to automate several key workflows often involved with new client onboarding. By leveraging this integrated workflow, advisors can automatically create new Vault accounts for clients, automatically depositing eSigned documents directly into the correct folder within a Vault account. This alone shaves several hours off the manual administrative work involved with new client processing in addition to automatically meeting document retention policy requirements.

2.   Don’t just offer ongoing services… provide ongoing value

Advisors shouldn’t assume that they only need to win over new clients once. The truth of the matter is this; your job as a financial service professional is to provide value to your clients over and over again.

Offering ongoing services or resources—such as continuous training, quick troubleshooting checklists, or a monthly consultation to review other challenges they face—shows true professionalism and proves your commitment to providing long-term value, in turn encouraging clients to stay on. Don’t forget to notify clients about all these services during the onboarding process.

3.   Establish preferred methods of communication

Misunderstandings and clashing communication styles can cause conflict, which is the last thing you want with any client, in particular new ones. By establishing the best methods and regularity of communication from the start, you start your relationship on the right foot.

We recommend conversing with new clients regarding how they prefer to be contacted and how often they expect you to reach out. By doing so, you can help clients feel secure about this new relationship while showing that you value their business enough to make sure they’re comfortable. Some clients may want to have one call at the beginning of their working relationship and then continue with minimal contact. Others may prefer to connect once a week or month.

The point is, you won’t know unless you ask and establish this.

4.   Determine your client’s desired level of involvement

When clients are investing money and resources, security and peace of mind is… top of mind. Establishing a check-in schedule helps them feel safe with you as an advisor while improving overall satisfaction and reducing client churn.

Some clients prefer to work with advisors as a partner, while others want to be hands-off and only hear from you when they’ve hit specific metrics (and everything in between). Clients who wish to be involved might feel sidelined if you fail to include them in the process.

Set expectations for the desired level of involvement from the beginning of the working relationship. What types of changes need approval, and who needs to approve them? Do they expect to brainstorm solutions, and then you implement them? Clear expectations reduce stress and eliminate confusion.

Determine how involved your client wants to be, and then establish regular times to meet and discuss any issues that may arise.

5.   Have a kick-off meeting

An organized kick-off meeting sets a positive tone for your working relationships and ensures everyone is on the same page. This serves as the building block for a strong relationship and helps ensure clients are satisfied with your services.

Once new client agreements have been signed and you are ready to get started, it’s now an appropriate time for you to hold a kickoff meeting to review details and get everyone on the same page. This meeting establishes your future communication cadence and helps clients feel confident they made the right decision to hire you.

During your kickoff meeting, make sure to review:

➜ Overall goals

➜ Metrics for success

➜ Your strategies or approach

➜ Roles and expectations

➜ Information you need from them to get started such as critical documents

➜ Online access and portals where clients can access their portfolios, including accessing their documents and statements

➜ Next steps

This is also an excellent opportunity to schedule a meeting down the line to check in on the progress of the partnership.

6.   Provide them with tools and resources they’ll need

Tracking tools or dashboards help hold your business accountable. Clients can see the benefits you bring to their lives in real-time, which improves trust and shows their investment is paying off.

When customers don’t understand what you’re doing or can’t immediately see the benefits, they’re unlikely to continue working with you. Data showcases how your efforts are improving their lives and prove you’re worth keeping around.

Notably, your clients will want and will need to have access to their documents and information at any given time. By providing them with a secure, personal Digital Vault, you’re providing them with their own access to the information and documents that pertain to the relationship you have with them, but also with a place where they can securely store and organize all of their important documents such as family documents, legal, healthcare, etc.

Ultimately, it is part of your job to provide your clients with the tools and resources that instill confidence in your services and that continue to provide tremendous value in their everyday life.

Create a document checklist to help scale new client onboarding processes

A client onboarding document checklist will help you standardize your onboarding workflow and ensure efficiency in the way you’re collecting information and documents from your clients.

Below are several common documents often required and associated with onboarding a new client. This onboarding checklist is intended to be used as a baseline to help you create your own unique checklist.

➜ Necessary bank statements (including any retirement or investment accounts)

➜ Mortgage paperwork and/or your client’s most recent statement

➜ Statements showing the balance and monthly payment for any auto loans

➜ Credit card statements and current balances

➜ Student loan statements

➜ Paperwork pertaining to a business (should your client own one)

➜ Alimony or child support statements—if applicable

➜ Disability insurance documents

➜ Declaration pages for home or renter’s insurance, automobile insurance, and/or any umbrella policies or commercial insurance policies

➜ Life insurance information or policy statements, including group term life insurance from your client’s employer

➜ Paperwork for any other financial accounts not listed

➜ Government ID, etc.

We know all too well just how cumbersome and time-consuming it can be to collect documents from internal and external counter-parties. FutureVault’s Custom Document Checklists make it easy to build new custom checklist templates to streamline gathering information and documents in a secure environment; a dream for both back and front office teams. Templates can be standardized and shared across your organization to ensure compliance and best practices are maintained.

Take your client and member onboarding to the next level with FutureVault

Onboarding is often the first place for new clients to place their trust in your hands; a difficult thing for most individuals and families. Having a smooth onboarding experience creates immediate value by showing new clients how much you care, that their personal information and documents are safe and secure, that you understand personal needs, and that you’re in it with them, together.

FutureVault can help your organization significantly improve new client onboarding with features and integrations that save back and front office teams significant time while reducing manual intervention involved in legacy processes. Ultimately, this means that you can focus on what you’re best at—providing excellent advice. 

Connect with FutureVault Solution Experts today and see how we can help your back and front offices save significant time and money by automating and improving new client onboarding.

Financial Documents Spring Cleaning Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

How to Champion Client Experience During Volatile Times

Now more than ever is the perfect time to be the champion your clients need with a financial spring cleaning and important document cleanup.

Consistent, ongoing communication between professionals (advisors) and clients plays a vital role in overall client satisfaction and retention. This rings true in any given circumstance and is especially true during challenging and volatile times. As a result of recent historic market downturns, it’s safe to assume that your clients may be scared, confused, and unsure of what to do next. They require special attention from their advisors.

A recent study by YCharts showed that nearly two-thirds of financial advisors’ clients feel they’re hearing from their advisors too infrequently. Meanwhile, CNN Money’s Fear & Greed index confirms that investors are currently experiencing extreme fear. The CBOE Volatility Index is down some from its mid-March 2020 peak, but remains sky-high relative to historical norms, also indicating investor fear.

Given the screaming headlines engulfing world markets right now, that’s understandable. It’s clear that most, if not all, financial clients need extra care now more than ever.

Now’s your chance to stand out from the crowd of unresponsive advisors. Amid coronavirus and the resulting mayhem in world markets, your business can thrive if you put in the time and effort to strengthen your relationships with your clients.

It all starts by taking the time to listen to your clients’ concerns, wishes, and dreams. While your experience and sense of cool under pressure often serve you well, no one has all the answers – especially during times of crisis. Listen, then walk your clients through this tumultuous time. More than just making money for your clients, offering a sympathetic ear and an open mind can win their loyalty for a lifetime.

In that YCharts study, 85% of respondents cited both the frequency and style of advisors’ communication as being important factors in deciding whether or not to retain their advisors.

One highly effective communication style is to be proactive in your client care. By helping your clients address important matters before they even think of them, you’ll build a powerful sense of trust.

With that in mind, this is a great time to reassure your clients by going over the current state of financial markets. Rather than waiting for them to inundate you with panicked phone calls, this is an ideal moment for you to reach out to them. Clients appreciate both scheduled and ad hoc contact as a way to show that you truly care about their well-being.

Financial Document Spring Cleaning Photo by from Pexels

Walk your clients through both their short-term and long-term investment goals. Check to make sure their current investment plan still works for them. If it needs tweaking, take the time to go over a plan that makes financial sense, while also giving them a sense of comfort they need.

More than just an overview of your clients’ stock portfolios, now’s also a great time to review all their financial affairs by walking them through a financial spring cleaning.

A good spring cleaning should include making sure they have all their financial affairs are in order so that they can ride out jittery markets while knowing that they’re prepared for anything. One way to ensure that happens is ensuring all of their financial documents are organized, easy to find, and up to date.

Financial Review: Spring Cleaning Important Financial Documents

Review current debts: With interest rates slashed to the bone, you can help advise your clients on everything from refinancing home loans to restructuring or consolidating other debts. This is a perfect time to review it all. You can then help them prioritize their money allocation and lower the financial and emotional burden of onerous debts.

Check current insurance plans: Are your clients’ life insurance policies up to date? Do they have enough coverage to give their families their own peace of mind? The current period of volatility offers a golden opportunity to help them plan for life’s many contingencies.

Check beneficiary designations: Many people make a will as soon as they have their first child. If your clients have children who are grown, it may have been decades since they last reviewed their list of beneficiaries, considered key items such as power of attorney, or even knew where to find a copy of their will.

Review the little things: In today’s digital age, it’s easy to automate virtually every payment. Make sure every bill from cable to mobile phones to power and heating bills are up to date, automated, and seamless. The less clients have to worry about, the better and easier their lives will be.

Clean out old documents that are no longer needed and import critical financial documents into a digital vault.

One factor which can thrust all of those goals into jeopardy is clutter. Having too many papers strewn around the office, the house, and the garage can lead to documents becoming lost, or nearly impossible to find. A 2015 survey found that 54% of Americans felt overwhelmed by the amount of clutter they have; 78% had no idea how to handle all that clutter, so they avoided the problem and let it build up instead.

You know the expression, “a cluttered space is a cluttered mind”. That can apply to your clients. Being unable to organize their financial documents can leak over into other elements of their lives, causing stress that can affect their work or even their family relationships.

That’s why it’s so important to be digital-savvy. As a financial advisor, ask yourself: Are your clients’ most important documents all stored in one place, in a secure digital vault? If not, what are you waiting for?

Meet FutureVault – The Industry-Leading Digital Vault Platform

FutureVault is a leader in digital vault technology. Using cloud-based technology, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, FutureVault enables you to store all of your clients’ key financial documents in a way that’s 100% secure and easily accessible from anywhere, any time.

So if your clients haven’t already done so, this is a great time for them to go through their filing cabinets and old boxes. Have them shred the old documents they don’t need. For those vital documents they do need, your clients can upload them simply to their own digital safety deposit box – a digital vault powered by FutureVault.

Think back to the financial goals we mentioned earlier. Does everyone in your clients’ families know where to find vital documents such as wills, Power of Attorney letters, and insurance documents? These documents must be secure and accessible to family members or trusted professionals that need them. FutureVault enables end-users to easily collaborate with their external network of trusted advisors, including wealth advisors, financial planners, accountants, lawyers, family members, assistants, colleagues, etc. All activities are tracked in a secure, fiduciary audit trail.

Acquire and retain clients, members, and employees, while unlocking new and recurring revenue streams. FutureVault’s platform deepens and extends client relationships as the digital hub in clients’ lives.