WEALTHTECH INSIDER: 3 Pain Points of Client Onboarding—and How to Make Yours Better


All too often, client onboarding can be an unpleasant experience. There’s paperwork to sign, wait times to endure, and general uncertainty that can creep in. That’s too bad considering the excitement that both the advisor and client are usually feeling at the promise of things to come. 

But when a new client gets stuck filling out paperwork and waiting for accounts to transfer while still feeling out a new relationship, that onboarding period can easily become a poor experience rather than the great experience it should be.

Your onboarding experience is your first chance to stand out, to prove that they made the right choice—that your firm really will take care of them.

Today, we want to look at three pain points in the modern client experience and see how you can make each one better. 

Pain Point #1: Clients Feel Lost in the Shuffle

Ask twenty RIAs what their client onboarding process is, and you’ll likely get twenty different answers. Even advisors at the same firm will at times follow different processes. Let’s be clear: That is not ideal.

If you don’t know what your firm’s process is, imagine how your clients feel!

Onboarding tends to be a very reactive time for clients when they’re just waiting to hear from you and have no idea what to expect. 

How you can make it better

You want to stay as far away from general statements like these as possible: “We’ll meet together a few times, get your information, and then get to work!”

To make your onboarding process better, give new clients a timeline of what to expect upfront and be specific. Write each step out in the style of a to-do list and check each item off as it’s completed so they know exactly where they are in the process. 

If you haven’t spoken with them in a while, reach out and give them an update of what you’ve been up to on your end—even if there are no current action items for them. They’ll appreciate you adding some clarity to the situation.

Pain Point #2: Account Transfers Take Forever

Okay, maybe it doesn’t take forever, but it can feel like it—especially to your clients. You have plenty of other work to keep you busy, but chances are your new clients are moving their assets to you because they have something they want to do ASAP. 

Every day can feel like an eternity when you have big financial moves you want to make.

How you can make it better

Beyond filing the paperwork as quickly as possible, there’s not much you can do about how long it can take to transfer accounts. Wait periods and technical capabilities typically exist more with individual custodians than under an RIA firm’s control.

But there are plenty of things you could do in the meantime.

Set up an automated workflow to gather information and keep your clients busy. Send them a risk questionnaire or new client survey. Ask them to follow you on social media. 

Then schedule a call during the transfer process to check in with your new clients and see how they’re feeling. Let them know what’s going on and that you’re just reaching out to see if there’s anything you can do for them in the meantime. They’ll love it.

Paint Point #3: Clients Miss Essential Information

When a prospect becomes a client, gathering their information can be a haphazard process that can drag out for several weeks or even months as you find key data is missing. 

How you can make it better

Automate, automate, automate. Building a new client onboarding workflow in your CRM is foundational to standardizing your onboarding process. 

But it’s not just about gathering information. Built correctly, a single workflow can play a key role in solving every issue mentioned in this article by keeping clients informed frequently and checking in while accounts are transferring.

Beyond your onboarding workflow, you can continue to use event-based triggers to ensure important information is never missed—for you or your clients.

Your onboarding process is your chance to set yourself apart. Showing that you care about your client experience from day one can be a huge differentiator in the long run.