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Raising the Bar in Client Onboarding

by Russell Graham, Global Head of Implementation and Service for Trade Finance and Cash Management Corporates, Global Transaction Banking, Deutsche Bank

Complex onboarding processes have long proved a headache for corporates seeking to establish new transaction banking relationships. But the latest initiatives are easing this process and improving the client experience over the entire lifecycle of a relationship, says Russell Graham, Global Head of Implementation and Service for Trade Finance and Cash Management Corporates at Deutsche Bank.

The level of upheaval involved in changing transaction banking provider – often meaning several new IT systems and substantial new documentation – has, in the past, been a significant contributor to the ‘sticky’ nature of this business. However, several trends within the industry, as well as individual initiatives from specialist providers, are changing the landscape in this respect. 

One key development has been the move away from proprietary bank technology towards provider-agnostic systems. When a change of provider inevitably meant a complete switch in IT systems and channels, there was always going to be a strong incentive to stay put. Yet despite the continued development of proprietary systems in some quarters, this is now changing. Industry standard formats are increasingly becoming the norm and other initiatives – such as corporate access to SWIFT, the financial messaging network – are certainly lowering the level of stickiness in this sector and smoothing the path for clients that wish to switch providers.

Driven in part by this sea change within the industry, transaction banking providers are increasingly looking at what they can do to enable greater client mobility. One area where improvement is certainly possible is onboarding documentation and the processes that surround it. This has, in the past, been a significant contributor to inertia, as well as representing a time cost to both the client and the bank. By addressing these issues, the onboarding lifecycle can be shortened, delivering tangible benefits to both sides of the relationship.