The client onboarding process today
Since the introduction of the first Anti-money laundering (AML) laws in the 1970s, the respective regulatory requirements have increased almost on an annual basis. From the verification of a client’s identity to the clarification of beneficial owners and finally the requirement to obtain a detailed ‘know-your-client’ (KYC) file, financial industry regulators have been raising the regulatory bar continuously.
And onboarding a new client is only one part of the story because similar rules have been introduced to monitor if existing client relationships are AML compliant.
When it comes to financial industry players with a global client base, understanding these requirements for all markets they are operating in has become a significant burden. Because different country-specific AML policies govern different requirements, client advisors today have to rely on manual onboarding checklists to make sense of the jungle of documents and forms they need.
The processes adopted by the industry at large today lead to the following:
- Clients are scared off by poor onboarding experience
- Client advisors or relationship managers are frustrated by unclear and changing legal and compliance requirements
- Legal and compliance staff are struggling to provide precise instructions to their client advisors due to complex country-specific requirements
The challenge of country-specific requirements
At first, onboarding a new client requires a detailed understanding of the jurisdiction where they’re domiciled or incorporated. Especially when dealing with corporates, institutional clients or high-net-worth individuals structuring their assets through multi-layered special purpose vehicles, a financial institution needs to understand several different regulatory details:
- Which entity types exist in the country where my client is incorporated?
- Which constitutional documents are available for this specific entity type?
- What type of representatives do exist for this specific entity and which documents are required from them?
- What needs to be clarified to understand and document the beneficial ownership of the entity?
- Which KYC questions need to be asked?
Answers to these questions require both country-specific regulatory knowledge as well as a deep understanding of AML regulations in various countries. Today, this know-how is applied manually on a case by case basis by respective legal or compliance teams. This slows down a bank’s onboarding bandwidth and increases the regulatory risk. Different approaches exist to tackle the situation:
|Business potential||Risk minimisation||Onboarding speed||Ease of maintenance|
|Option 1: onboard only individuals, no entities or structures||+||++++||+++||+++|
|Option 2: clarify onboarding requirements case by case||+++||+++||+||+|
|Option 3: introduce digital client onboarding checks||++++||++++||++++||++++|
Introducing digital client onboarding checks
Maintaining complex onboarding requirements manually was already a cumbersome task in the past, and it is certainly not the right approach in the age of digitally enabled finance. Clients expect a state-of-the-art user experience when dealing with financial institutions, and clumsy onboarding processes simply wouldn’t cut it.
So what’s the most effortless transition from analogue to digital?
The starting point is to obtain the regulatory requirements in a machine-readable format. More and more legal consultancies are beginning to digitise their knowledge and to keep updated digital repositories that are easy to integrate even into legacy core systems. These repositories of digital rules must be customizable and quickly accessible by client-facing staff so that they enable faster and smarter day-to-day processes.
To digitally speed up your onboarding process, you will need the following three building blocks:
- The right set of onboarding rules: a repository of country-specific and highly detailed machine-readable rules customizable to an organization
- Dynamic onboarding app: access to an intuitive onboarding interface that helps client advisors to stay fully compliant when analyzing a complex client relationship
- Easy integration options: technology empowering your developers to easily integrate machine-readable rules in-house
Benefits of using digital client onboarding checks
- Exceed client expectations with a hyper-targeted and superfast onboarding process
- Always compliant with the right set of digitalised client onboarding requirements
- Scalability by easy addition of new machine-readable rules and countries
- No more IT bottlenecks thanks to fast integration into existing processes