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How automated workflows streamline institutional client onboarding

A proven three-phase methodology may help organizations provide a better customer onboarding experience.

In brief

  • Regulatory, procedural and other factors can make it difficult for wealth and asset management organizations to improve new customer onboarding.
  • An institutional onboarding solution may help organizations make the process more connected, automated and personalized.

Wealth and asset management firms continually seek ways to improve their clients’ experiences. Unfortunately, diverse factors routinely thwart these endeavors – particularly attempts to optimize the essential new customer onboarding process. Notable examples include:

  • Regulatory: Financial services enterprises face an ever-expanding volume of increasingly complex externally imposed mandates. Each new requirement has the potential to hamper integrating new clients, especially when these customers operate in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Data: Client information isn’t always consistent. Resolving these irregularities is time-consuming and may introduce flaws. Even in those rare cases where the customer’s data is perfect, it can be challenging to arrive at an optimal balance of centralization vs. distribution. Government-driven geographical data storage regulations must also be a consideration.
  • Organizational: Client expectations for the new solution may be both inconsistent and a moving target. Meanwhile, the vendor may suffer from a lack of standardization across its product offerings.
  • Procedural: Key client business processes are frequently fragmented and opaque, which vastly complicates the essential task of documenting and then supporting them. Many are built on manual activities, such as relying on paper-based forms that must be typed in by hand. Management reports are often incomplete and contradictory.

Ultimately, these characteristics result in higher operational costs, unnecessary errors, missed cross-sell/upsell opportunities, and worst of all, customer dissatisfaction.

Organizations can apply a well-established three-phase methodology to deliver a better institutional onboarding experience.

Phase 1 – Design analysis and requirements

  • Conduct current state discovery to understand existing pain points and priorities
  • Leverage proven experience-led transformation (ELT) techniques to fine-tune the organization’s unique onboarding sequence while also documenting product requirements

Phase 2 – Develop solution

  • Begin creating the workflow and verifying that the process and control steps are adequately tracked through the oversight tool
  •  Identify which interfaces will be necessary to integrate with upstream and downstream applications

Phase 3 – Integrate, orchestrate and support

  • Finalize the workflow to enable direct interfaces with external applications and data
  •  Provide post-production support and develop the adoption plan
  • Train users and introduce tactics to encourage utilizing the new solution

Time-tested practices can go a long way toward streamlining the institutional client onboarding experience. However, there are additional measures that organizations can take to boost the likelihood of a successful undertaking. Some examples are:

  •  Enhancing and elevating the good-to-trade checklist to be the core orchestration feature of the end-to-end onboarding and maintenance workflow
  •  Developing multiservice channels to provide clients with more options, while supplying integrated action, status and transparency capabilities
  • Establishing intelligent client segmentation and tiering to proactively identify the appropriate product blend
  • Conducting detailed client journey analyses to inventory all current state interactions. This delivers a better understanding of personae and segment preferences for the upcoming solution build
  •  Leveraging document intelligence and artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor information and client requests through all channels. This helps provide real-time responses and client feedback
  •  Recognizing – and accepting – that different client tiers will likely require separate onboarding workflows

Case study

EY teams recently led a client onboarding transformation at a large US wealth management institution. The primary objective was to modernize operations by simplifying and automating key steps. Some of the most tangible outcomes were:

  • Simplification. Multiple account opening documents were consolidated into one single master client agreement that governed the entire relationship between the client and the institution.
  • Enhanced user experience. Striving for cross-product consistency, minimizing signature requirements and eliminating duplicate data entry improved the overall experience for both clients and branches.
  • Reduced time and expense: Integrating an e-signature platform enabled electronic document delivery and execution. This slashed processing time from more than 10 days to between one and three days and cut onboarding costs by 20%.
  • Better client communications: Consolidating documentation led to reduced discrete client mailings once an account was opened.


Wealth and asset management organizations may profit by leveraging industry knowledge and supporting technologies. Automating workflows streamline the entire client onboarding process, resulting in faster time to market, reduced costs and happier customers

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