Let’s start by stating something we all know. We’re spoiled, really, really spoiled. If a website does not load in a split of a second, we grumble. If an app does not catch our attention the first time we use it, it is quickly uninstalled. If a website does not appear on the first four results of the search engine, it might as well be on a different astral plane. Unless we suddenly ascend into a higher form of consciousness, we will simply never get to it.
Everything in our world has to work and work fast and flawlessly, or we will simply not use it. “Customer is King”, proclaims the early 20th century saying. A hundred years later, the customers are not only kings; they are especially intolerant, impatient kings, offing the heads of websites and apps as if they were enemies of the crown.
All this, of course, does not sit well with the fact that financial institutions are required to carry out a careful meticulous KYC/AML process. Who wants to read long lists of instructions and answer dozens of questions born in
the minds of regulators ten thousand miles away, just to download another app or open another account? We open accounts on Google and Amazon and countless other websites all the time – two screens and you are done. Who has patience for more than two screens?
Patience is gone, and the world of slow onboarding is disappearing as well. Financial institutions are getting rid of lengthy onboarding processes, even for extensive due diligence, replacing them with fast, fully automated Straight-Through-Processes. It is ‘survival of the smoothest’. Only the smoothest easiest most user-friendly KYC/AML onboarding process will win over today’s consumer. There is only one winner in the battle for customer experience, and that is whoever offers customers the same fast Straight-Through-Processes they are used to from other online accounts or mobile apps. That is the benchmark, other web services or providers not just other financial institutions.
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Of course, the customer is also right. A smooth KYC/AML onboarding process can indicate to the clients what kind of financial institution they are dealing with: why should the client, for example, believe the financial institution is quick to respond to market changes when its onboarding process is slow? Or that it is in tune with the latest trends, when it can not keep up with, technologically, even governmental agencies?
That is the harsh reality that financial institutions are dealing with right now. They are no longer ‘just’ financial institutions. They are also mini tech-companies, online service providers and therefore measure against other tech-companies and online service providers. In the mind of the consumer, an account is an account, an app is an app. And the same way customers will not download a slow, non-user-friendly app; they will not download the investment firm’s app. Or, in other words, they will not onboard it onto their devices.
Like we said – financial institutions no longer onboard clients; clients onboard them.
Remonda Kirketerp-Møller is CEO and founder of Muinmos