• Mike Eaton, Partner |

The key focus for a customer onboarding process is balancing a positive experience for the customer while ensuring you are protecting your business.

In my experience, customers want the process to be as efficient as possible but are often unaware of the inherent risks that can result from onboarding compliance not being completed correctly. This is the reason why you should strive for an onboarding process that balances efficiency with effectiveness. This balance helps ensure you are set up for success to detect and prevent financial crime and terrorist funding from the start and throughout the relationship through continuously monitoring customer activity accurately.

Ineffective onboarding can result in a variety of business risks. It leaves your business vulnerable to financial crime, which can lead to regulatory fines, sanctions, reputational damage and ultimately impact your bottom line.

In my view, getting onboarding right from the beginning can benefit your customers, profits, regulatory compliance, and ultimately, your entire business.

Seize the digital day

So how can you improve the onboarding process? To truly uncover opportunities for improvement, instead of waiting for problems to arise, I believe the first step is to take charge and proactively start your transformation journey now.

Increasingly, customers are expecting a seamless digital experience from organizations. If you are working with legacy technology, this can make not only your processes ineffective and inefficient, but it often means a disjointed and largely manual experience for the customer, with lots of forms to fill out and potentially visits to branches to submit documentation. It might be time to take a step back and start to make some decisions about how technology should be used in the customer due diligence (CDD) process. For example, introducing new technology such as automation and machine learning could transform the experience for your customer while helping to ensure financial crime risk is reduced through robust monitoring processes.

Technology components, such as portals hosted in the cloud, allow customers to access and upload documentation remotely. Third-party data aggregators and screening tools for adverse media, politically exposed persons and sanctions can also help significantly reduce your overall effort and cost spent on onboarding. Ultimately, this can allow you to fully utilize your resources on value-add tasks and focus on other core compliance functions.

Transformation may sound like a huge task but I believe that making it a continuous improvement program to regularly identify, review, and update the process based on trends, risks and customer feedback, can help make it successful for you and your customers.

Looking beyond the tech

When it comes to transforming your onboarding process, technology is often the first building block. To some, it may seem like the sole area of focus, but the technology can only enhance operations when it's integrated into an efficient CDD process.

In my opinion, the first rule is to review the full end-to-end process, instead of focusing on individual pain points. By reviewing the full process, you can identify the areas which need optimizing and also understand the weaknesses in your current technology capability.

But it's key to ensure with changes to any part of the process, no matter how small -- especially when introducing new technology -- that policy, governance, training and compliance are incorporated. As part of any transformation journey, it is imperative you keep on top of change control, ensuring any review or change is incorporated correctly.

Benchmarking against competitors is natural, especially when it comes to trying to gauge the customer experience. This is where business maturity comes into play. Ultimately, you should strive to focus on your own onboarding and compliance journey -- investing not just to stay ahead, but to provide the best onboarding process for customers, which can also be effective in combating all aspects of financial crime.

KPMG professionals can support your business in understanding what is needed and how to transform your existing experience and process to help reach that sweet spot of success.

Between data optimization and overall system implementation, KPMG professionals can walk you through the entire transformation process and help make sure that optimization puts you in a better position to keep financial crime at bay. Through intelligent automation and machine learning, KPMG can guide you with leading tools to put new workflows in place and help improve customer onboarding for better customer experience outcomes.

Read additional blogs in our Financial Crime series.

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