Last time, we talked about the changing face of client onboarding, how firms are beginning to view it less as an obligation and more like an opportunity. As you know though, there’s a big leap between knowing you want to change how something works and actually making it happen. Today, we’re going to take a look at how your organization can begin that transition.

Laying the groundwork

Read the report.
Read the report.

When thinking about how to reframe client onboarding, I find it helpful to look at the process from the outside in: focusing first on the client and then translating those insights to your business. At the end of the day, an effective onboarding strategy needs to reflect everyone’s priorities and expectations. Specifically:

  • Clients want their advisors to understand their needs and offer personalized solutions.
  • Advisors want to attract profitable clients who fit their personal brand.
  • Wealth management firms want to improve sales force productivity and lower the cost of serving clients.

Next, look at how your current client onboarding practices perform in the following six areas:

  • Experience: What is the onboarding experience like for clients and advisors?
  • Process: What are the steps in your onboarding process?
  • Organization: Who is doing the onboarding work and how are they supported?
  • Governance: Who is ultimately responsible for onboarding?
  • Data: How are you collecting, storing and managing client information?
  • Technology: What tools and applications are you using?

Best practices in client onboarding

How your organization approaches client onboarding should always reflect your brand and your client’s needs. That being said, our work in the field has revealed a number of best practices that are worth sharing.

  • Onboard once, with a single Master Services Agreement.
  • Establish (realistic) expectations together with the client.
  • Personalize solutions to suit individual client needs.
  • Enter (correct) data once and make sure it gets integrated across your systems.
  • Tailor the experience to suit individual client preferences.
  • Let the client’s goals be your guide and drive recommendations.
  • Make it convenient using mobile devices and online applications whenever possible.
  • Keep it simple with plain English and as little administrivia as possible.
  • Give clients control over the pace of the process and their level of participation.

A strategic approach to client onboarding can help your firm not only build strong and profitable customer relationships, but also improve productivity and reduce costs. It’s a win-win for your top and bottom lines.

For more on how you can reframe your approach to client onboarding, check out this report:

Getting It Right from the Start: Taking a Strategic Approach to Client Onboarding

If you would like to discuss this topic further or get additional information, please email

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