We have a problem, folks. Opening a bank account or getting a credit card should not raise your blood pressure. We have the technology to simplify onboarding, so why are banks still using outdated and inconvenient processes?

In 2016, we wrote about the state of digital onboarding processes in Asia. We found a lot of room for improvement, especially in wealth management.

What about Switzerland and Germany? They’re painting a different picture. Right?

According to a recent market study conducted by Namics, they’re not doing so great either.

For the study, Namics researchers pretended to be customers who wanted to open bank accounts and apply for credit cards at 14 institutions across Germany and Switzerland. Their efforts led to a lot of frustration and disillusionment. "The client mostly goes through existing offline processes. In the majority of banks, the client ends up having to present themselves at a branch despite attempting the online approach. Communication mostly happens by post. After paper, the telephone is the most used communication channel."

Worryingly, while carrying out the tests, Namics identified numerous mistakes, omissions, and what they describe as a "fundamental lack of understanding towards the needs of digital clients." In Namics' opinion, banks are testing their digitalization attempts on clients, treating them as guinea pigs rather than valuable customers. "The result is that the user has to put up with numerous mistakes and corrections of processes. The usability of the bank’s online channel indicates significant problems. The processes are much too slow, sometimes taking weeks, while the client is left in the dark."

Since the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory (FINMA) outlined new rules for establishing business relationships (onboarding), there have been some developments towards a more digitalized approach. But FINMA's announcement is still quite fresh, so the findings in the Namics study don’t come as much of a surprise.

You only have one chance to make a good first impression. And onboarding dictates the quality of the relationship between the customer and the bank—in retail banking, wealth management, and even corporate banking. It’s time banks give customers what they want: seamless, end-to-end onboarding experiences in both the digital and physical worlds.

This is exactly our integrated approach at Appway and we’ve seen stunning successes. Some of our clients now need only one day to onboard a wealth management customer, beating even the fastest examples from Namics' study (their tests focused on the retail scenario). Onboarding for Retail offers a platform-based solution, which prevents media and process breaks across channels, devices, and interaction modes while connecting with all necessary services (e.g. for KYC checks). Onboarding for Retail covers the entire client lifecycle, not only the activities required to open a new bank account, but also profiling, client servicing and updating, and eventually client offboarding.

Another benefit of Onboarding for Retail? It serves as the ideal use case for a bank to digitalize. As tangible improvements crystallize for customers and involved employees, banks will be able to measure the business benefits. And, based on these results and learnings, banks will be in a great position to tackle more complex digitalization initiatives that will help them provide greater value to customers and grow their businesses.

To get a better understanding of digital onboarding and how it can differentiate your wealth management firm from the competition, check out our Onboarding for Retail landing page.