Client onboarding in banks: the job outlook in 2018

The client onboarding experience today

For the past few years, the client onboarding experience has served to be critical for incumbent banks. With the market already saturated with competitors, banks are taking a very client-centric approach with the goal of differentiating themselves from other bank, having to step up their game when it comes to improving customer experience. One critical customer journey is the onboarding and verification process.

How do banks achieve a smooth and hassle-free onboarding process? Good client experience and a positive first impression is key. Client onboarding is the process by which a customer establishes their relationship with the bank and provides all of their necessary information for the bank to open an account. Anyone who has tried to open a bank account will understand how cumbersome the experience can be, leaving much room for improvement. A smooth onboarding process leads to less drop-offs, more satisfied customers and better customer retention.

Challenges around the client onboarding process

The onboarding process is complex, especially when factoring in all the different requirements based on regions, client types, business lines and products. Many banks are struggling to provide a first-class client experience that is hassle-free whilst reducing the time it takes to open an account. They also need to maintain tight controls as they need to be compliant with all the existing and new regulations.

With ever increasing scrutiny from regulators and a rapidly-changing regulatory landscape, banks need to exercise full due diligence. To help in the customer onboarding process, banks are investing heavily in technology and looking to upgrade their onboarding platforms to ensure processes are flexible enough to adapt to changes in future regulations.

“Know Your Customer” (KYC) is the process of a bank identifying and verifying the identity of its clients. It is generally a pain point for many banks, which is why we see an increased need for KYC specialists.

Is a role in the client onboarding team for you?

Roles under the Client Onboarding team have opened up just by addressing this critical step in the customer journey. This team is responsible for providing support through single points of contact for agent trading client onboarding requests and queries. Many banks, therefore, have been scrambling to find talent who have strong analytical and organizational skills, and who have a thorough understanding of the “Know Your Customer” (KYC) and “Customer Due Diligence” (CDD) procedures as well as account documentation and client outreach.

Many banks are also looking to client management and client outreach candidates to help improve the current state of the onboarding process. These individuals are seen as subject matter experts in the areas of CDD and onboarding, and are able to work closely with senior clients as well as senior internal stakeholders. By having these individuals as a control point, banks relieve some of the CDD pressure from the front office.

The Client Onboarding team acts as a controller. This is because errors may occur and contribute to the bank’s operational and reputational risk. Another skillset that is highly valued is communication and coordination skills, as candidates are expected to work very closely with external and internal stakeholders to collect all the right documentation for client onboarding. Many hiring managers also value candidates with a keen eye for inefficiencies and who possess the initiative to improve processes. Therefore, candidates who have work experience in the operations space, preferably with a strong financial services background are favoured. Due to the nature of the role, candidates will also need to be able to work under high pressure and tight deadlines.

Prospects for client onboarding candidates

The onboarding team handles the end-to-end onboarding process, bridging the gap between different stakeholders. Candidates will collaborate closely with internal teams such as front office, legal, credit and middle office; many of whom will be senior managers. In addition, candidates are also expected to work very closely with clients. For those looking to get their foot in the door, there are entry-level roles such as an analyst or contract role in the onboarding teams.

Moreover, candidates who have in-depth knowledge of the onboarding process and possess great KYC skillset are more likely to transfer internally to teams such as middle office, operations and compliance which is a great way to advance one’s career.

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