Why do onboarding software implementations fail?

Why do some onboarding implementations become costly failures? Does the problem lie with the systems selected, a siloed approach to innovation, or perhaps having the wrong objectives from the start?


Irrespective of the IT environment that a wealth management firm may prefer, choosing the wrong onboarding solution can be a costly mistake, writes Johnny Beloe, Head of Pre-Sales, Wealth Dynamix.  

When organised correctly, the process of onboarding can enable a wealth firm to maximise efficiency in order to drive profitability. The objective is to optimise the ‘right first time’ rate across that process, thereby avoiding rework. In this way the benefit of automation extends beyond onboarding into ongoing relationship management. The efficiencies allow a firm to scale without staff increase, positively impacting margins. Technology lies at the heart of this endeavour. 

A cheaper alternative to strategic, end-to-end solutions may well seem like a quick and cost-efficient fix but implementing ill-suited solutions and processes can impact client journeys, result in incomplete client profiles from a data perspective and impede audit trails and overarching compliance. I have witnessed first-hand the hefty price that firms can pay in cutting corners with onboarding.  

Here I outline the three main drivers that prompt firms to implement the wrong onboarding solution and assess the full impact of doing so.

1. Lack of strategic mapping in the onboarding journey 

As businesses grapple with rising costs, compressed margins and increasing competition, it can be tempting to take a quick fix approach – but this rarely delivers. Failure to step back and take a holistic perspective on the business and the processes that underpin them it is a missed opportunity that could cost firms dearly.  

Only by mapping out the end-to-end journey from both an internal/operational and external/client facing perspective will businesses be able to identify problems, inefficiencies and where capability gaps exist. Businesses often take a compartmentalised approach to client relationship management, yet as the vital initial stages of high-net-worth engagement typically precede onboarding, a seamless approach across the full client lifecycle is critical to consistent compliance and efficient, effective processes. 

2. Siloed approach to innovation 

I believe that the onboarding experience forms the foundation of a strong wealth management client relationship. Without truly understanding the client at hand, it’s impossible to deliver a personal service that safeguards clients and their wealth management provider alike. Yet firms regularly treat this vital component of the client relationship as a single point in time and rely on equally short-term processes to incorporate their clients into the fold. 

Clients now expect more from a wealth manager than just a means to manage wealth (they can access that online now via self-service funds). This change in perspective has put the customer experience across the lifecycle at the forefront; the expectation is of a premium service with the quality of customer experience being a key differentiator. 

A cohesive approach spanning the whole client relationship will unlock powerful insights and give advisors the means to provide a targeted service as clients’ wealth and wider circumstances evolve. Furthermore, if firms focus their efforts and their budgets on honing the onboarding experience but overlook the wider delivery of service, they could well see the client relationship falling short of expectations. 

3. The impact of consolidation 

Consolidation among wealth management firms can contribute to a patchwork of poorly integrated systems and data silos, often compounded by attempting to solve some of the issues of that systems landscape through the introduction of further systems, or changes to one system without proper consideration of another. And while legacy systems often reside in the back office, their impact on the wider client experience should not be underestimated. Piecing together operational processes following acquisitions and mergers whilst under pressure from management to make cost savings and provide value has often resulted in short-term decisions being taken. 


An automated onboarding solution that interfaces with all other third-party solutions that a firm is using (whether it’s for risk screening, assessment of a client’s attitude to risk, digital signatures, setup of the client structure at the end of the onboarding process, etc.) will reduce rekeying, mitigate error rates and trim the more repetitive aspects of the workload for staff.

From the client perspective, automation will also enhance the experience of onboarding. Clients can have a pain-free, frictionless onboarding process that is consistent from one client to another, and they can engage via their preferred channels (whether that’s digital, in person or a combination of the two). In this way, an efficient onboarding process can assist in retaining clients and winning new business.

In the same way that wealth management firms desire for their client experiences to be seamless, firms must also take a unified, holistic approach to their technology.  

If you want to avoid the trap of an onboarding project that does not deliver, now could be the time to take good counsel and invest wisely. 

Essential reading for key decision-makers  

To summarise, getting your onboarding implementation wrong can lead to misguided decisions, costly u-turns, siloed systems, and, worse, a disjointed client journey. 

Therefore, this topic makes for essential reading for CLM decision-makers, especially for those in the role of Chief Operations Officer, Head of Client Service, Head of Relationship Management, or Head of CRM/Onboarding/KYC. Relationship managers and marketing specialists keen to raise their game in line with the expectations of contemporary clients will also find it a helpful resource.   


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