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This is Part 1 of our series of articles in “Digital Client Onboarding for Financial Services: Move Fast, Ask Less”.

So, what does User eXperience (UX) have to do with compliance? Well, when we break it down to the nitty gritty, your new client will more than likely have their first interaction with you while researching your company or the service(s) it provides via your website. After they have surveyed your website, clicked some links and maybe built some trust, they then make the decision to contact you. This is when they will inevitably end up at a web form.

This is a web form. A nice one.

Web forms have a lot to do with UX and UX is part of client onboarding and that is closely related to Know Your Customer (KYC). The KYC process is all to do with regulatory compliance. With web forms being the most common way to perform digital client onboarding, you guessed it, the initial user experience with your company has a lot to do with compliance. But get it wrong and you might not have to worry about KYC & AML/CTF or any of that, you might not even get the client.

You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology – Steve Jobs.

I’m sure not long ago it would have seemed odd to mention ‘UX’ and ‘regulatory compliance’ in the same sentence, but times have moved on, fast. Every company, from the biggest on the planet to the smallest garage upstart is trying to enhance their digital experiences and the way they connect with their customers.

The world’s biggest retail banks are now feeling the pressure from mobile-first startups that create apps with fantastic user experiences to try and draw customers to their platform. See Number26 and Monese as some prime examples.

Monese Banking App

So why is it so difficult to create a great, digital client onboarding experience and what’s been wrong with the approach until now?

Regulatory complexity has grown and so has the volume of data required for KYC and client onboarding

From our experience working with clients, we have come across all kinds of forms. Depending on if they are regulated and which regulatory body they are licensed with, if they have to submit CRS or FATCA reports, whether they’re onboarding an individual or a corporation, or simply down to how they handle their KYC and compliance internally. Most commonly, we work with clients that have forms with between 60 – 200 fields to complete. So, what’s a field?

This is a bad web form. Particularly if you need to enter a lot of information.

The example above has 9 fields. You can imagine having to complete a form like this with 60 – 200 fields to handover your information (plus additional supporting documents). You can’t just digitize your existing forms like for like as it presents a number of challenges. We’ve listed the 4 main ones we’ve come across:

Form Fatigue: Ever gone to complete a long form and needed to take numerous breaks from it? Not only for your sanity but also because you may not have the information or document required at the time. Or worse still, you’re half-way through a form online and it loses all your work when you try to come back to it?

Repetition: We found the client’s who were being onboarded were getting asked for the same information up to 2 and sometimes 3 times on the same form. Even when converted to digital! ‘Didn’t you just ask me that?’.

Flow or Logic Missing: Asking someone to enter information at the wrong time and out of context is a real issue. The constant need to flick between pages or endless scrolling makes for a bad user experience. ‘If you selected Yes, go to Section 5’.

The Paper Mentality: If you’re just taking your current paper form and putting it online, you’re going to run into problems. The digital experience needs to be a lot different and more familiar for someone who uses Phones, Tablets, Laptops etc. everyday. You’ll run into at least 2 out of 3 of the above issues. And more. What happen’s when you need to add more information in a particular section but there is no space?

Thinking about how a form can be organized as a conversation instead of an interrogation can go a long way toward making new customers feel welcome.
― Luke Wroblewski

As you can see, a web form actually has a lot to do with compliance and is integral to a successful digital client onboarding programme. Getting this wrong will get you bad results and a bad first impression and maybe even a lost client. This is where UX comes in and it can turn a bad experience into a delightful first interaction for your clients. As Steve says: You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.

This is Part 1 in our series “Digital Client Onboarding: Move Fast, Ask Less”. In the next installment we’ll look at “Form Data: Can data be used to hone a better digital client onboarding experience?”.

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