Efficiency and Empathy: Crafting Seamless Onboarding Experiences

Efficiency and Empathy: Crafting Seamless Onboarding Experiences

One of my favorite things about Diversified’s culture is the willingness to share appreciation and gratitude.  Every few days, there is a companywide email called a “shoutout” that acknowledges an employee going over and above to complete a task, solve a problem, or go the extra mile for a client

Last week one of our partners in the ops team diligently worked on an onboarding issue for a new client that involved multiple previous custodians and a bank. To me, it is a sign of a client-first culture but it also highlighted one of the most important challenges for advisory firms:  Client onboarding is a critical process that sets the tone for the entire relationship between a client and their financial advisor.

From a client’s perspective, hiring a financial advisor can be a huge mental hurdle.  They are effectively placing their trust and possibly financial future in the hands of someone else.  Sure, they were probably referred by a friend or professional that they know well but it still can be an emotional time – did they make the right decision?  But that is why a detailed and efficient onboarding process is so critical – it can build trust by anticipating what the client needs, their current state of mind, and how best to build that trust.

In their shoes; a journey

One of the biggest challenges for many firms is to turn off their sales/planner modes and think of themselves as a client.  How would you perceive the process if the shoe was on the other foot – if you were the client?  What would you appreciate, how would you feel, what would you like to know? What would make me trust the process more?

Over the years, I have suggested to many that you journey map processes from the client’s perspective.  Not familiar with journey mapping?  In the most simplistic form, you describe the client’s journey from their perspective.  By adding in emotions around the timing, actions, and communications, you can get an idea of how to improve the process and strengthen the relationship.  Some ideas to get you started:

  1. Draw out your current onboarding process from the introductory meeting to the end of the first year of being your client.  List out the steps and actions that are most common and place them in a timeline.
  2. Think about the last 5 – 10 clients that you brought on.  Did you get common questions during any of the steps?  Can you put yourself in their shoes and think about how they perceived the process?  What you could have improved?
    1.  Take it a step further.  Create a focus group of newer clients and walk them through the process to find out how they were feeling during their onboarding.
  3. Look for opportunities to improve communication, strengthen the client/advisor bond, and build trust.  How can you make it easier for them to work with you?
  4. Memorialize the process into workflows and build it into your CRM.  Anything you do more than once needs to be as automated as possible.

Working on a problem transfer between multiple previous custodians and a bank is going to happen from time to time and great ops people are worth their weight in gold.  Understanding that you only have one chance to onboard a new client – one chance to reinforce that they made the right choice in hiring you, building trust and a stronger relationship is something that can be built into your processes. Maybe you will get a shoutout too!

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