What a Digital Client Onboarding workflow looks like

What a Digital Client Onboarding Workflow Looks Like


For firms who’ve always done client onboarding manually, it can be difficult to picture exactly what a digital workflow would look like – let alone how to start building one. Processes differ across departments, need varying levels of compliance input and involve a range of stakeholders both inside and outside your firm. It can be overwhelming – but it doesn’t have to be. 

There are two constants: it’s always a multi-step process, and it always has to be done right.

Document sharing

X Manual: Typically, important onboarding documents, from welcome packs to client care letters, are shared manually. On your side, that may mean hours that could have been billable being spent on admin, or the fragmentation of information across email and internal systems. On your client’s side, we frequently hear that the inception process can be frustrating and time consuming, and start the relationship off in a sub-par way.

X Poor visibility: Because often more than one person, or more than one process, is involved in the different parts of the onboarding process, it’s hard to maintain consistent visibility of exactly who has viewed and signed each document, which clients have undertaken CDD, and whether any flags have been raised during the process. This makes creating an audit trail difficult.

X Frictional: Clients are most likely to perform follow-up actions when they’re engaged in the process. But every follow-up action – going to find documents, going to the post office, speaking to another part of your team – takes them out of your workflow. Not only is it a poor experience for them, it also slows down onboarding while you chase and chase again. That delays getting started on the legal work – and being able to bill for it.

Automated: Building digital versions of your compliance workflows means actions can  be queued and triggered automatically. It allows your expert team to get back to what they’re good at and speeds up the whole process. 

Auditable: An MLRO dashboard that you can interrogate automatically provides you with a full, regulator-ready report of what actions have been performed, when and by whom.

Convenient: Sending a secure link to clients to upload their documents is cleaner and more convenient. It lets a client complete all the required steps from their own home, on their own time – usually in under 6 minutes. It also means you receive everything onboarding related back, quickly, and in one place – not spread out across multiple emails, scans and letters.

KYC and AML  

X Inconvenient: KYC that requires clients’ identities to be checked against their ID face-to-face is outdated – particularly in an increasingly digital. Asking clients to visit the post office or bank to get certified copies of their ID is time-consuming and inconvenient. And with SRA guidance now favouring electronic IDV, anything less is a risk factor.

X Inexpert: In-person KYC checks are fallible. Even rudimentary fraud techniques aren’t always obvious to the naked eye. Font anomalies and tell-tale pixelation can be hard to catch, and counterfeit and synthetic identities all-but-impossible. With identity fraud rates increasing and fraud attacks becoming more sophisticated, it’s a serious and compounding problem.

X HIgh risk: If you’re like the majority of law firms, you’ll only be checking identities against databases. But thanks to the ubiquity of data breaches in recent years and the sheer volume of personal data now available on the dark web (about 18.7 billion records),  database checks alone are no longer fit for purpose. Additional document and video biometric checks, which ensure not only that the document is legitimate, but actually belongs to the person presenting it, are now a must.

X Disjointed: Anti-Money Laundering isn’t just one thing: it’s usually a suite of checks that will check a variety of different sources to assess risk. But that means you might end up with several disconnected systems, and no single view of results. It also makes it impossible to create a clear process for escalating red flags.

Seamless: Building a digital workflow gives you the software tools to perform all the steps in your client onboarding journey seamlessly and remotely. It makes life easier for your clients, and speeds up the whole onboarding process.

Modern: Thanks to digital banks, clients are used to verifying their identities online. Most major banks now enable clients to do remote IDV; by updating your processes to match, you’ll be offering the kind of service that clients now expect as standard.

Secure: Leveraging best in class CDD technology  providers isn’t just easier and a better client experience, but more secure. Tech solutions which use AI, biometrics and Machine Learning are able to detect fraud with far greater accuracy, so you can onboard new clients with confidence.

Quick:  Digitising processes allows you to run several processes simultaneously. There’s no need to wait for IDV checks to be returned before starting AML, so you can move the whole CDD process along much faster.

Contextual: Running all your checks from the same, centralised system means all your results are returned to the same place, too. That enables you to get a more holistic, contextual view of a client’s risk profile, and make decisions with confidence.

Payment of money on account

X Limited: Few law firms are equipped to manage digital payments in a way that meets SRA client money rules– despite the fact that almost 70% of consumers prefer them. Instead, the process is cumbersome and outdated, usually involving bank transfer or payment over the phone. The lack of provision for digital payments also means there are limited options for clients to pay out-of-hours. That means they have to take time out of their own working day to align with yours.

X Hard to track: Processes for tracking payment on account ahead of starting work are often poor. Finance teams struggle to reconcile payments, meaning billable work is slow to start – and even slower to finish. Since your firm often doesn’t get paid until work is complete, that’s not a wait you can afford.

24/7/365: Leveragina legal-specific digital payments provider gives clients the freedom to pay by whatever means they’re most comfortable with. It also lets them make payment 24/7/365, so clients pay their bills quicker, and money lands in your account faster.

Automated: Setting up automatic notifications to alert you when a file is paid and send automated, firm-branded receipts means you can get to work quicker. That has a dramatic impact on cashflow, leveraging working capital faster for your firm.