5 crucial elements for an effective client onboarding process

April 13, 2017 by Amanda Arient

A close-up of a financial advisor completing client onboarding with a laptop in an office

About the author

Amanda Arient

Training coordinator

Amanda works to improve the implementation process for customers through expert onboarding, creative instructional design, and personalized training. Prior to her role on the technology adoption team, she worked as a partner support specialist.

Improving the client onboarding experience for our new clients is one of the most important steps to acquiring and keeping new business. How you integrate new clients into your practice is one of the first impressions you make on them, so it is important that you have an engaging and smooth client experience. So, how can you improve your current methods?

First, your client onboarding process must be simple and convenient.

This means that firms and their clients must complete the onboarding process quickly and without any headaches. Your clients will not to want to complete a bunch of convoluted steps and go through complex processes just to be your client, and you will not want that either. Firms should not implement a process that requires advisors and clients to spend hours frustrated and confused. The process should be simple and include convenient steps for both advisors and their clients.

Second, your onboarding experience must include ways to get to know and understand your client.

This part of the process could be in the form of a convenient questionnaire that breaks down the information you need from your clients into simple terms. Using vocabulary such as “non-qualified accounts,” “defined benefit pensions,” “Term 10,” or “whole life” may seem obvious to you as an advisor but may be confusing to clients who are new to financial planning. No one wants to admit their lack of knowledge; therefore, simplifying the way you are asking your clients for information gives them the confidence they need to complete onboarding.

Third, consistent contact is important because you want to remain top of mind.

Do not think of onboarding as a one-time process, think of it as a continuous partnership. If you provide your clients with a meaningful tool they can use, they will be more likely to remain loyal to you as their advisor. Creating a relationship that clients will incorporate into their routines will ensure you are who they think of when looking to make big financial decisions in their life.

Fourth, remember that trust comes before sales.

It is important to establish a relationship with your clients before you try to sell them anything. No one wants to buy something from a person or company that they do not trust. Before you can sell yourself or your products, you want to build a trusting relationship. To do that, you must let them know that their input, thoughts, and feelings are valued and that you are acting in their best interest. Personalize your communication to each client, keep track of important dates and events in their lives, and be transparent about your recommendations to them.

Finally, remember to start small.

Do not try to change everything about your process all at once. Start with some small simple changes such as introducing a client portal into the process or increase your communication cadence. Make some small changes a little at a time. You and your clients will not benefit from a brand new process that takes up all of your time and distracts you from planning.

Click here to learn how the NaviPlan® client portal can help you engage your clients and improve your onboarding process.