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Digitalizing Client Lifecycle Management in the Time of Covid-19 and Beyond

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This is a sponsored article from Appway

Prior to the pandemic the digitalization of client lifecycle management (CLM) matters was not the top priority for the world’s private banks. Most saw it as an approaching chore, many as a nice-to-have luxury. It was costly and it ran counter to their prevailing ethos of high-touch and personal client interaction.

This all changed with the onset of Covid-19 and the abrupt cessation of business as usual between the end of 2019 and spring of 2020. Lockdown-enforced working-from-home and staying-at-home restrictions wiped out the staples of traditional client interaction. It was – temporarily at least – goodbye to the handshake, the face-to-face meeting and the wet signature.

At a stroke, private banks and wealth managers recognized they would have to digitalize to survive, let alone prosper and grow. And with the onboarding of new clients a near impossibility without digitalized CLM, the search for solutions moved out of the back office to challenge, engage and affect management and bankers of every stripe throughout the whole organization.

As Wiwi Gutmannsbauer, chief operating officer of UBS Asia Pacific, evocatively put it at a recent Asian Private Banker webinar: “Our experience now tells us that digital transformation needs to move seamlessly and harmoniously from front to middle to back office. If you only have, say, fancy e-banking, that might be the icing on the cake. But, if your cake is rotten, there’s nothing to support the icing and it will not taste good for the client.”

To feed this demand, devising digital tools which can simultaneously impress discerning customers in each of the front, middle and back office is the holy grail of the banking technology industry. Appway, the Switzerland-based global software-solution provider, believes its signature solution Onboarding for Wealth Management is an archetype of its kind.

Says Chiara Gelmini, Appway’s senior WM industry marketing manager, “If you are looking to digitalize the entire client lifecycle you will need to deliver tangible value-added benefits to every member of a private bank’s C-suite while also demonstrating your value to relationship managers and client advisors. We believe our flagship Onboarding solution does just that.”

The journey begins with relationship managers and their clients

She adds: “By automating the onboarding process, our tool gives RMs the ability to serve their clients in a better way. It cuts through a lot of the admin and allows them to focus on building a relationship, whether from the office or from home. That’s all the more important when you consider that around two-thirds of all HNWI relationships with private banks begin with a major life moment like a marriage, a bonus or pay rise, relocation or inheritance. Onboarding is a client’s first step into an organization and it’s crucial that trust and empathy are created as soon as possible if the relationship is to be long-term, meaningful and mutually beneficial.”

A technology that can remove all possible obstacles in the way of establishing that relationship is clearly one to be cherished. Especially if it means reducing the loss of prospects as a result. And a Forrester Consulting Total Economic Impact™ study commissioned by Appway on their Onboarding solution in June 2020 revealed it produced a significant reduction in onboarding time. The study concluded: “The onboarding process is streamlined, with fewer meetings, fewer follow-ups and improving customer experience. Onboarding times reduced by nearly 90% (from 45 days to five or six days). As a result, customers are more confident in using more of the bank’s services.”

Other surveys suggest those same customers had already begun expressing greater desire for digital solutions prior to the pandemic and that Covid-19 and its impacts have only accelerated that trend. “Across the board, private bank clients, contrary to many relationship managers’ views, were already telling us that they prefer digitalization in 2019,” says Gelmini, “Even older clients – 80% of investors over the age of 67 according to a survey we conducted with [the London-based wealth management research consultancy] Scorpio Partnership (AON) – reported that they prefer online account opening.”

The future of digitalization for CLM is here and, according to Gelmini, it’s a matter of hybridity: “The right technology should swing seamlessly between two poles: automation and collaboration. This is what we try to inject into every one of our solutions and products – the possibility to dynamically adapt and suit to the right working pattern.”

With UHNWIs naturally demanding ever more personalisation, it’s only through technology working in tandem with human expertise that RMs will be able to satisfy their client base at scale. Onboarding for Wealth Management supports RMs by intelligently orchestrating and suggesting the best service and product mix so that they can be more relevant to their customers. The result is a better, more efficient experience for RMs and their clients alike.

The Forrester study quantified this as a 5% incremental growth in client acquisition for banks and, in turn, noted RMs’ time was productively diverted away from form-filling and paper-chasing toward upselling more appropriate and better tailored products to higher-value clients.

The dramatic reduction in onboarding time the tool generates also flows through to an increased 10% margin per customer. The resultant improvement in customer and employee experience in turn leads to increased retention rates for RMs.

Helping CCOs and KYC specialists along the way

Compliance officers and KYC experts felt the sharp end of Covid-19’s impact when their workflow was interrupted by a combination of WFH restrictions, abrupt policy changes and increasing pressure from regulators. At the same time criminal activities shifted from the physical to the online world, giving rise to new fraud patterns and new types of risk to be addressed and detected. All this while compliance officers were unable to seamlessly access traditional, paper-filled workstreams with their access often denied to offices, filing cabinets and vaults.

Appway’s Onboarding, via its accompanying end-to-end paperless Digital Binder and its digital KYC, allows CCOs to perform client due diligence faster, on-point and with less documentation back-and-forth. It saves time by allowing different functions to work on the same customer dossier in parallel. Building digital bridges between once disparate departments means accelerated collaboration and, in turn, increased efficiency.

More collaboration enables the compliance team to leverage on case management approaches and distribute documents and tasks to all relevant personnel. Improved back-office efficiency reduces overall risk and makes the process simpler for CCOs.

Gelmini elaborates: “Compliance officers are looking for solutions that allow them to perform complete client due diligence faster, without cross-departmental delay and confusion, and using tools that allow dynamic interaction. With our Onboarding, we provide a digital solution that allows a compliance officer to pull in the right actor at the right moment to solve the multifaceted challenges connected with such complex clients as HNWIs.”

CEOs and COOs are also enjoying the view

The upper echelons of the C-suite might have glossed over the impact of digitalized CLM in the past. No longer is this the case in an age of ever greater fee compression and focus on operating efficiencies. The compliance and back-office efficiencies of Onboarding enjoyed by CCOs, for example, lead to tangible cost savings estimated by Forrester to be worth two full-time employees per booking centre.

No new technology, of course, comes without cost. But perhaps the most compelling finding – and number – of all to emerge from the Forrester study is the 225% total return on investment (ROI) that the Onboarding for Wealth solution generates. Gelmini concludes: “Such a stunning ROI really shows how much an initial investment in CLM digitalization programs can produce. Get the solutions right and, in the longer run, they will deliver the rates of return that all bank CEOs and COOs now demand.”


This is a sponsored article from Appway.

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