Beyond onboarding: pitfalls and potential during a pandemic

Beyond onboarding: pitfalls and potential during a pandemic

How has the pandemic impacted the three vital phases of client lifecycle management (not only onboarding), and how can wealth managers respond?

Coming into 2020, many wealth management firms were beginning to realise that their continued focus on the digital transformation of onboarding, at the expense of other wraparound processes, was putting their business at risk. In January we released an e-book where my colleague spoke to them about the need to see client lifecycle management (CLM) for what it is – an end-to-end process that must be addressed in entirety, to remain competitive and drive value for clients.


Much has changed since then, not least their priorities relating to IT spend and client service. COVID-19 has led to political, economic, socio-cultural and technological challenges that have created both pitfalls and potential for wealth managers across the globe. How has the pandemic impacted the three vital phases of CLM, and how can wealth managers respond?


  • Engagement: During the initial stages of engagement with a prospect, there has always been a great (often untapped) opportunity to capture a wide variety of data, and then seamlessly re-use and update it throughout the client lifecycle. In March 2020, with the entire wealth management sector switching to homeworking, the majority of prospect engagement and fact-finding became digital. The potential to capture rich client data, which can be leveraged to tailor marketing campaigns, heighten personalisation, enrich wider market engagement and underpin ongoing relationship management, has never been greater. Transparency remains paramount, to secure consent, build trust and avoid complaints. Clients want to know what data is held, and why, and they expect to be able to manage permissions via self service portals.Wealth managers must also focus on keeping client engagement relevant, natural and entertaining, while also ensuring compliance. Remote meetings via video conference have become popular, and opportunities have emerged to use gamification techniques for financial personality questionnaires, or to kick-start onboarding and investment proposal processes.


  • Onboarding: Although onboarding has been a digital transformation priority in recent years, many wealth managers are still behind the curve. With remote offices closed, and face-to-face meetings disrupted for the foreseeable future, most remaining paper-based processes became untenable overnight. The automation of processes reliant on wet signatures, packs sent in the post and internal mail must be accelerated to reduce friction, cut operational costs and ensure business continuity.To achieve fully-digital and paperless processes, wealth managers should focus on:


  • Providing a multi-channel client experience: from financial questionnaires to identity verification, automated document archival and digital signatures, online channels support unobtrusive, remote data collection with a high degree of accuracy.


  • End-to-end automation of internal onboarding processes: especially those related to regulatory approvals, to enable rapid, paperless and frictionless account openings.


Wealth managers should guard against implementing stop-gap solutions, which may prove to be unfit for purpose or fall short on compliance, as they are likely to come under regulatory scrutiny in the future.


  • Relationship management: With many wealth managers reporting that they have the potential to meet 2020 AuM targets from within their existing client base, by increasing share of wallet, ongoing relationship management has never been more important.With Front Office teams no longer co-located, the need for a truly digital “360-degree Client View” is vital, to be able to provide clients with the best possible service. Under normal circumstances, internal knowledge sharing happens naturally, across physical desks, through in-office communications. As this is no longer possible, it has become mission-critical to transform the vision of the 360-degree client view into reality, through digitisation and automation. This must happen, and quickly, to enable wealth managers to optimise client service – whatever the future holds.


By Gary Linieres, Co-founder and CEO, Wealth Dynamix

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