How the pandemic has changed onboarding

While there was a growing move to digital onboarding prior to the onset of the pandemic, the restrictions and challenges put in place due to the virus have sped up the move to digital. According to iMeta Sales Director George Collier, this comes down to a key and growing need across a multitude of industries today for automation.

Founded in 2000, iMeta delivers client Lifecycle and data management technology to large banks and financial institutions. The company provides a platform that helps its clients optimise both the onboarding times and the client experience, while also enhancing their internal operational efficiencies around KYC and AML.

The company markets iMeta CLM, which is an end-to-end onboarding and client lifecycle data management platform. iMeta CLM is capable of automating the comprehensive regulatory and operational onboarding processes as well as managing the clients and entities of capital market organisations.

Why did the pandemic change onboarding? “I think there’s been a realisation that there’s a requirement for more automation,” said Collier. “So just having manual processes or putting technology on top of manual processes is very, very inefficient. When people are working remotely that has proven to be a challenge, according to the conversations we’ve been having.”

“I think there’s really been a drive by companies to look at how they can automate both the onboarding process and the ongoing KYC, and refresh to minimise the operational overhead that they have as well as the handoffs they need between their team members. So, it’s all about bringing that together with a combination of technology and data integration.”

Are these changes permanent? Collier believes this is the case, and it is key for market players to get in earlier than their competition, “I think they will be. I think once the more forward-thinking institutions that are moving to this view of automated KYC and onboarding have cracked it, then more institutions will follow.”

Onboarding trends and roadblocks

Alongside the pandemic driving increased digitised onboarding, the move towards automation has been one of, if not the biggest trend to hit onboarding over the past two years. Collier highlighted that in sales conversations, he has seen a momentum towards these trends develop.

He remarked, “We’re seeing more and more of our sales and conversations being driven by banks wishing to get out of being heavily limited by regulatory processes and wanting to move to technology in our space, where they can really enable the front office to drive the business forward.”

“Banks typically have very manual processes. They might put some technology in which digitises the onboarding process, but it is still very manual and can take weeks or even months to onboard clients. This restricts how they can increase their business and drive up the number of clients and revenue they get, while also remaining compliant.”

Are there any key roadblocks from firms looking to secure their onboarding processes? Collier detailed, “I think some of the main issues faced are around having the wrong technology and processes in place. In many instances that needs re-looking at to get rid of those roadblocks. So, moving away from workflow first to automation first as much as possible.”

“If companies can understand that this process is all about data capture, document capture and ensuring you’re going through the right processes – it is not necessarily about having to make your digitised processes follow a manual footprint.”

Customer experience optimisation

With a vast number of companies competing for the best and most efficient customer experience, how can companies best optimise the customer experience?

Collier said, “Firms need to use a combination of effective client outreach to make sure they’re getting the right data on their clients, then use a combination of technology and data integration through APIs to validate and enrich their client data. That really speeds up the onboarding process and really enhances the customer experience.”

“What we’re seeing currently is that people are accustomed to ordering things online and getting it the next day – and we’re now expecting this in the corporate investment banking world. We don’t have the appetite to wait weeks and months to be onboarded. So, I think optimisation comes from a combination of the technology, improving the processes, ensuring the right compliance policies are in place, and using data integration from things like client portals as well as third-party data providers to really speed up their customer experience and make it as frictionless and as slick as possible.”

Plans for 2022  

 What is next for iMeta? The company is soon to be releasing its standard configuration, which includes all of the standard policies and regulations that clients need, but still has the flexibility to be manipulated by the client if required for things such as risk scores, as these differ between institutions. iMeta is also launching a new, updated, easy to use UI.”

Collier added, “From a business perspective, it’s just really still about driving forward and acquiring more clients, delivering successful projects and ensuring our customers are happy.”

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