Streamlining the Client Onboarding Process

Technology in every industry has been slowly moving to the digital sphere, and the move to digital has made many tasks a lot easier.

Take watching movies at home. Two decades ago, we had VCR players that took up half the shelf space available on our television cabinets, and they played tapes that would sometimes get broken, and would always need rewinding at the end of the night.

DVDs got us closer to digital, and they introduced slimmer players and the ability to start a movie instantly from any scene, and they didn’t need to be rewound.

But digital movies have truly made the buying and viewing experience pain-free. You don’t have to leave your house. You don’t have to deal with packaging. There’s no wait time from the point of purchase to the first viewing.

If you buy a movie from the Apple App store, you can access it from any Apple device you own—whether you’re on your Macbook, iPhone, or Apple TV, you can watch the movie and pick it up where you left off on another device. There’s no extra equipment to buy, and there’s no rewinding. It’s simple and efficient.

When you’re onboarding new clients to your firm, you’re either doing it in the physical realm with stacks of paper, or you’re doing it all digitally on a computer, or maybe you’re stuck somewhere in between the two worlds.

Getting a new client up and running can be a tedious process that involves many steps. The best way to simplify your team’s work is to bring your client onboarding process completely into the digital flow.

Three Ways Technology Can Improve Onboarding

Go Green

We’re close to living in a paperless world, but there are some areas that can’t quite let go. Client onboarding is one of those stubborn places. But the sooner you get rid of paper, the better your firm will be. Paper creates clutter, and clutter is an easy way for important documents to get lost or worse, stolen. Plus, that paper needs physical space for storage.

DocuSign and LaserApp present great solutions to streamline opening a new account and transferring your documents and required signatures to digital. These systems also integrate with other important software vendors to further automate new account data flow into other systems that you may use .  At Orion, the integration between LaserApp and our New Account Center app has been widely adopted by our advisors, eliminating duplicate data entry.

Work with Robos

While we’re putting the focus on onboarding clients digitally, it almost goes without saying that robo-advisor solutions can teach traditional independent advisors something about how to add new clients. An advisor-facing robo solution may be able to help streamline your account opening process by making it easier for your clients to sign up with your firm. What client wouldn’t rather fill out a few fields on your website than labor through a stack of paper?

You can build a cohesive strategy with tools from Jemstep, Riskalyze, or AdvisoryWorld—and again, it’s a critical part in the decision-making process to see whether or not they integrate with your other software to ensure data syncing and eliminate data entry for your staff.

Automate your customer relationship management (CRM)

Nothing can hurt the relationship between you and your client faster than forgetting an important step and requesting them to approve the same document again, or coming back to them a week later needing some additional signature. Many times, missteps happen due to a failure in communication. Often times, a failure in communication means the process has some ambiguous elements to it.

The good news is technology is available to automate workflows like new client onboarding. For example, you could build out your onboarding process into your CRM. This would allow you to assign a task to the right person at the right time.

With this process in play, one team member marks a task complete. As soon as they mark it complete, the workflow notifies another team member that the next step is ready for them. No more missed reminders or failure to communicate between employees. By using this technology, you can hold your entire team accountable for every step in the process.

And going back to the thread woven throughout, you’ll likely be able to get your e-documents into your CRM through integration, which can eliminate another possible pain point of not having all your documents together in one single location.

The One Simple Trick to Successful Onboarding

Ultimately, successful onboarding comes down to one simple trick:

Everything should be about making things easier for your clients.

Any benefits to your staff from streamlining are an added bonus.

By improving the onboarding experience, you can start your relationship with your client the right way and turn new clients into advocates for your firm.


Information presented about integration partners does not reflect the views and opinions of Orion Advisor Services, LLC (“Orion”). Orion clients should undertake their own assessments to determine whether a third party meets their business and due diligence requirements.

Eric Clarke
Eric Clarke
Eric Clarke is the chief executive officer and founder of Orion Advisor Services, which develops solutions that improve advisors’ business operations and interactions with clients. The company’s current vision is to integrate its portfolio accounting system with CRM platforms to increase efficiencies for advisors. Mr. Clarke and his colleagues founded Orion’s predecessor company after they developed an off-the-shelf portfolio accounting system for advisors. Prior to starting Orion, Mr. Clarke served as chief operations officer for CLS Investments, an SEC–registered investment advisor. As an industry-recognized expert in portfolio accounting, Mr. Clarke has written articles that have appeared in Investment News, The Journal of Financial Planning, and others. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Brigham Young University and a master of business administration degree from the University of Utah.

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