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The Executive Guide to Financial Services Client Onboarding with Salesforce

The Executive Guide to Financial Services Client Onboarding with Salesforce

Why do financial services companies leverage Salesforce for client onboarding?

Consumers are loyal to brands that provide personalized experiences.

According to a 2017 Accenture survey of consumers in the U.S. and Europe, more than half of consumers have abandoned a brand’s website or app because it was not intuitive to their needs. An astounding 91% of those respondents said they are more likely to stay with a brand that offers relevant recommendations and experiences.

Taking it a step further, a 2017 Econsultancy survey of digital marketers and ecommerce professionals found that 93% of those surveyed have had more success in converting prospects to customers when they personalize their marketing efforts.

So how does personalization translate to the financial services sector?

Generational Differences Infographic

Financial Services Operational Trends

Different generations hold unique expectations when it comes to conducting business. Baby Boomer clients (born 1946-1964) started investing when wired telephones and brick-and-mortar financial services institutions were standard. Generation X (born 1965-1980) knows the traditional investment model but may also be attracted to the convenience of digital interactions with a company. Millennials (born 1981-1996) are digital natives and more likely to adapt to non-human interactions with businesses.

The current financial services marketplace is flooded with Baby Boomer clients. However, younger clients are trickling in and shaking things up. According to WealthEngine data, as part of a study compiled by real estate firm Coldwell Banker, Millennials are projected to inherit $68 trillion by 2030 making them the wealthiest generation in history.

As this new generation increases in wealth, they generate a demand to conduct business remotely with cloud-based applications. Since upgrading business operations to a cloud-based model requires a huge organizational culture shift, financial services companies that stay ahead of the curve by taking action now will find the most success in the decades to come.

Client Self-Service Portals in Financial Services

With a preference toward digital self-service interactions, Millennials are changing the way financial services companies interact with clients.

Self-serve portals allow users to complete pre-client tasks with ease. They may simply download a mobile app, create a login account, provide financial information and instantly gain limited access to core platform functionality.

Willingness to interact with a business representative via phone or other channels decreases in the Millennial age group. According to Forrester Research, less than half of Millennials prefer calling a company over other forms of communication. In comparison, only 38% of their younger Gen Z peers prefer telephone interactions with a company.

Younger consumers research and try to solve problems themselves before reaching out to a business for help. That’s exactly what digital onboarding experiences achieve — allowing consumers to research and compare financial services companies, download an app, and create accounts at their convenience.

Keeping All Generations of Financial Services Consumers Connected

Traditional wealth management and financial services companies that tailor their services to Baby Boomers could miss opportunities to connect with younger clientele. With projections for Millennials to become the wealthiest generation in history, financial services companies will succeed in the new marketplace when they have the infrastructure to conduct business and onboard clients digitally while continuing to accommodate the need for traditional financial services operations.

That’s exactly what Salesforce does. All interactions with consumers, whether through telephone, email, in-person, mobile applications, website inquiries, social media, or other channels, live in the same highly customizable and user-friendly platform.

Financial Services Client Onboarding Trends

Financial services firms typically segment leads, prospects and clients separately, but those roles are becoming blurry. Today’s consumers have simultaneous relationships with several financial services companies, and they may skip the ‘lead-prospect’ stages by moving straight from website visitor to client on the same day by simply downloading a mobile app, creating an account, and entering personal information. This makes the need for personalized digital onboarding experiences even more crucial.

Digital Evolution in Financial Services

All of these changes to the way financial services consumers expect to manage wealth, combined with the need to make internal financial services processes more efficient and profitable have sparked an industry-wide digital evolution.

While brick-and-mortar financial institutions will always hold relevance, a new generation of clientele want digital experiences from financial services providers — beginning with the first interaction and throughout the client onboarding process. Additionally, industry professionals are looking to increase profit margins by making internal processes more efficient.

Automating Know-Your-Customer (KYC) Tasks with Salesforce

Financial Services companies completing client onboarding tasks using traditional methods leave a trail of paperwork for prospects to complete before they are converted to clients.

The process involves a range of know-your-customer (KYC) functions that include collecting financial and personal documents, asking prospects to complete a series of forms, and contacting credit reference agencies and verifying customer identities. All of these tasks add up and can cause a drain on resources for financial services institutions.

A 2019 Deutsch Bank-Oliver Wyman survey of relationship managers (RMs) working in banking and wealth management around the world showed that more than 50% of RMs’ time is spent completing administrative tasks, which include client onboarding. According to the report, “Duplication of processes and a continued reliance on paper documents have prevented true progress across large parts of the industry so far... increased automation and digitisation of the onboarding process (beyond KYC), combined with holistic data management, is achievable and significantly increases client satisfaction.”

When client-facing financial services employees spend less time completing manual tasks that can be automated, they gain precious time they can use to build relationships and solve problems for clients. Automation also reduces the risk of human error, and accelerates the entire client onboarding process. As a result, wealth management firms and insurance companies alike will succeed in the new marketplace when they digitize and unify customer onboarding experiences.

Digital vs. In-Person Experiences: Finding the Ideal Combination with Technology

Financial Services companies are poised to succeed when they can seamlessly integrate digital and in-person advisory experiences to personalize client-brand relationships.

The primary difference between traditional client onboarding and digital client onboarding is in the unification of siloed systems to reduce duplicated steps and allow automation in the process. While traditional onboarding processes pass the client through different lines of business that pertain to relevant steps in the process, every step is connected on a centralized CRM platform after the implementation of a digital client onboarding process.

Additionally, many steps in the process can be driven by automation. For example, as soon as a client completes fields on KYC forms, the information automatically populates matching fields on other forms that are required in the process through field mapping.

It’s a win-win situation for the client and the financial services company. The client can provide less duplicative information, and the financial services company reduces the risk of human error that can occur through manual data processing. Even more importantly, the client onboarding process can be completed very quickly with fewer resources.

Implementing an Omnichannel Experience

Implementing an Omnichannel Experience with Salesforce

Numerous studies have shown that the typical Millennial wants empowerment through the convenience of self service. While older clients may also want self service, they are also more likely to prefer in-person guidance during the onboarding process. Furthermore, clients of all generations appreciate the human element of customer service. They want to be able to talk to a real person, and many even require having a single point of contact.

Integrating internal business processes through a CRM, like Salesforce Financial Services Cloud, allows financial services companies to manage and grow client relationships in a way that’s tailored to the individual. The Salesforce platform is built to connect clients to companies through a range of digital and in-person interactions.

Each step in the customer journey can be carefully mapped with automations and flows on the Salesforce platform. These automations ensure clients get the right information at the right time, and internal processes are completed quickly and efficiently.

Personalizing Client Experiences

Each consumer has unique needs and expectations from a financial services provider, and personalizing client experiences adds the ever-important human element to the equation.

As prospects enter the funnel, they have the power to choose how they will interact with the financial services brand throughout the course of the relationship. For example, advisees who prefer speaking with an advisor via phone or in an office have the power to schedule in-person consultations with wealth management advisors through a mobile app, while other advisees who prefer the instant gratification of newer services, like robo-advising, can do so through integrations available on a CRM platform.

Financial services firms using the Salesforce platform collect data from the first interaction to build client profiles over time. As prospects navigate onboarding stages and become engaged clients, their data becomes more robust. Advisors gain insight into the clients’ financial goals and preferences through digital interactions with the client portal and marketing touchpoints.

Interacting with clients through the clients’ preferred channels and utilizing client data allows advisors to deliver tailored messaging and build stronger relationships. With a streamlined digital client onboarding experience, the financial services firm sets the tone for a successful client relationship through customization from the start.

Using Technology to Comply with Financial Services Regulations and Security Measures

Using Technology to Comply with Financial Services Regulations and Security Measures

A high level of trust exists in the client-advisor relationship. The client needs to trust that their identity and financial assets are safe, and the financial services provider needs to know that the client is truthful about their identity, financial background and assets.

The verification of this trust begins during the client onboarding process and continues to evolve throughout the client lifecycle. However, a heightened sense of security comes with a big price tag for financial services companies, and the costs are ongoing as industry regulations change over time.

These challenges are less daunting with the implementation of a CRM platform that collects relevant data systematically beginning with the client onboarding process. According to a 2016 Fenergo Global Wealth Management report, “A key part of solving the compliance challenge for private banks / wealth management firms involves knowing which regulatory or investment policy statement rules apply to whom and when and what data and documentation is required to evidence this process.”

In addition, implementing a self-service portal that’s connected to a CRM platform empowers clients to submit documentation and update data at any time to kickstart the onboarding process and ensure regulatory compliance throughout the client lifecycle.

Connecting With Third-Party Providers During Compliance Checks

The client onboarding process involves the completion of federally mandated KYC and AML forms, which often require the submission of client data to a third-party provider. These compliance checks add time to the process and require resources from the firm to complete.

Using a CRM platform reduces the time and resources needed to complete these checks by integrating the system with automated compliance check services. For example, Salesforce clouds integrate with applications available on the Salesforce AppExchange that automatically complete AML or KYC compliance tasks when the client reaches the appropriate point of the onboarding process.

Additionally, clients and financial services companies can rest assured knowing that the process is secure thanks to Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology, which protects information using both server authentication and data encryption.

Salesforce Integrations Are Essential to Client Onboarding Strategy

Salesforce Integrations Are Essential to Client Onboarding Strategy

Integrations with third-party solutions and applications are key to the success of a CRM-driven client onboarding process. The Salesforce platform is highly customizable, and it’s highly likely a Salesforce integration is available or can be built by a Salesforce Certified PDO for every financial services client onboarding process imaginable.

Connecting Third-Party Systems with APIs

The behind-the-scenes hero connecting services to a CRM platform is called an Application Programming Interface (API). An API is the messenger that takes requests from users and tells a system what the users want to do. The API then returns the responses back to the users.

For example, clients can electronically sign documents using DocuSign, an external service that integrates with Salesforce Financial Services Cloud. Other apps integrate with Salesforce to provide almost instantaneous compliance checks for AML and KYC.

In the traditional financial services client onboarding model, data is collected, processed, and distributed to various systems manually, which impact regulatory compliance and operational efficiency.

A 2016 Fenergo report notes the issues disparate systems can create saying, “while the financial institution might have in its possession documentary evidence to support an account opening or regulatory onboarding scenario, the lack of visibility across the organization and connection points creating linkages between systems, these documents remain siloed and unusable to the rest of the institution.”

Leveraging integrations with current systems to unify client data onto one platform reduces regulatory compliance risks and creates a more personalized experience for clients.

Differences Between Salesforce Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Financial Services Cloud

Salesforce offers Financial Services Cloud (FSC), which is a product specifically tailored to the financial services industry. However, many financial services companies use additional clouds to meet their unique business needs.

If you’re still reading this guide, then it’s safe to assume you understand the limitations of legacy systems (if that’s what you’re currently using) and you’re ready to upgrade. So, now is a great time to consider using Financial Services Cloud and/or a mix of Salesforce clouds.

The following is not an exhaustive list, but it shows the key differences between Salesforce Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Financial Services Cloud. Many financial services companies use Marketing Cloud, Pardot, Experience Cloud, and more.

Comparison Chart - Salesforce Sales Cloud vs. Service Cloud vs. Financial Services Cloud

Key Indicators to Evaluate Client Onboarding Upgrades

The best strategy for any financial services institution wanting to improve business processes through the implementation of unified client onboarding strategies is to be where the clients are. While retiree-aged clientele may be the current focus of the company, younger clients are increasing in number and expect personalized digital experiences.

CRM platforms, like Salesforce, allow financial services institutions to provide experiences that can be tailored to any clients’ needs. Digital natives, like Millennials, can use self-service tools to onboard with an institution in a way that makes sense to them. And, Gen Xers or Baby Boomers who want a mix of digital and traditional onboarding services can have it their way, too.

Most importantly, however, is the organizational efficiency that comes with digital client onboarding processes. Data is systematically collected over time to keep client burnout to a minimum while ensuring regulatory compliance and maximized profit margins for all financial services institutions.

To start optimizing the client onboarding process, gain stakeholder support by presenting an evaluation of current processes. Here are the key indicators showing the need to optimize the financial services client onboarding process:

Average Client Onboarding Completion Time

1. Average Client Onboarding Completion Time

What is the average amount of time it takes to successfully onboard clients? A recent Fenergo study found that manual client onboarding can take as long as 34 weeks, an average of 12 weeks at firms with some or partial lifecycle management solutions, and an average of six weeks at firms that have fully implemented a client lifecycle management solution. Look at historical data to determine the average amount of time spent from the first client interaction to the first client transaction.

2. Client Attrition Rate

How many clients abandon the onboarding process before it is complete? According to The Financial Brand, new client attrition (or churn) rates for the top 100 U.S. banks ranges between 20-40%. While this rate is specific to banks, consider this range as a benchmark when calculating your company’s new client attrition rates. Calculate the percentage of prospects lost before completing the client onboarding process, with prospects who were not approved by the company principal removed from the data.

3. Client Onboarding Cost

How much does it cost on average to onboard clients? In a 2015 case-study conducted by Forrester, participants calculated the total cost of client onboarding at their company and found that it can cost as much as $25,000 per client, but most participants averaged around $6,000 to onboard clients. Calculating average per-client onboarding costs is no easy task given the many departments involved in the process. However, finding a ballpark estimate can help when illustrating the ROI for cloud-based technology upgrades.

Remember all departments involved in the process in your estimate, which may include:

  • Sales

  • Marketing

  • Compliance

  • Credit

  • Legal

  • Executives

  • Back-office operations teams

4. Disparate system evaluation

What systems, programs, or applications in the onboarding process are not connected to one another? Think of ways that the lack of connectivity causes bottlenecks in the onboarding process. Then, document the amount of time that is typically added for each new client.

Client onboarding experience evaluation

5. Client onboarding experience evaluation

How do clients begin and complete the onboarding process? Document all actions clients must make throughout the process and construct a step-by-step process including the amount of time spent on each step.

6. Onboarding satisfaction rate

Are clients satisfied with the onboarding process? Use existing data or administer surveys to determine client onboarding satisfaction rates.

Other Considerations for Optimizing your Client Onboarding Strategy with Salesforce

Once you’ve determined which Salesforce clouds to purchase and evaluated the key indicators show areas for improvement in your onboarding process, you’ll need to address the following “big-picture” items.

1. Create a list of your current vendors, and determine if their products and services make sense in the long term. As you’re compiling the list, take note of whether or not your current vendors are:

  • Investing in their own research and development

  • Positioned to leverage cloud computing

  • Building integrations with other best-of-class industry software / cloud tools.

3. Enlist the help of an expert in both financial services operations and CRM strategy — particularly someone who knows Salesforce Financial Services Cloud inside and out.

This person can help you determine:

  • If Financial Services Cloud or a mix of Salesforce clouds can meet the needs of your client onboarding strategies.

  • How the Salesforce Platform can be customized to leverage your firm's existing strengths and turn any existing weaknesses into future strengths.

4. Plan for continuous improvement. Don't think of optimizing your client onboarding process as a drastic one-time fix that might be a disruption. Instead, think of it as a necessary upgrade. This is the first step in adopting a culture of continual improvement. The new way of doing things is not static like the old ways were. Embrace the idea of something new and better coming along with some regularity, and find the right partners to stick with you and guide you through the ever-changing landscape for years to come.

Contact CRM Science Salesforce Consultants

Contact CRM Science Salesforce Consultants

No two financial services firms are the same. That’s the advantage of optimizing the client onboarding process with Salesforce. It’s highly customizable to meet the unique needs of your financial services company.

Always remember that there are experienced professionals, like the CRM Science Salesforce consulting team, who have implemented and optimized the Salesforce platform for financial services companies as unique as yours. CRM upgrades often require sizable investments to complete successfully, so choose a Salesforce consulting partner with extensive industry and system experience (like CRM Science) to match tools and integrations to your specific business processes.


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