Oct. 29, 2021 | InBrief

Balancing bank compliance and business in the digital era

Banks that win will be the ones who approach onboarding and lifecycle management with an eye toward digital

Balancing bank compliance and business in the digital era

The financial services industry has pivoted quickly over the last 18 months to meet customer needs in an almost purely digital environment. For many institutions, this has required adding headcount and short-term process solutions to maintain a positive customer experience. However, as we move forward, these solutions are costly and neither scalable nor sustainable.  

The need to digitize the end-to-end customer experience, from onboarding to managing lifecycle events, has never been more understood throughout the industry. Yet, digitizing this experience while meeting regulatory requirements and easing the customer and employee experience requires banks to confront a legacy challenge—solutions must meet the urgency of front-office sales teams without compromising the watchfulness of the compliance team. 

It’s our view that banks are better positioned to succeed with a fully digital approach to onboarding and lifecycle management. Additionally, through the use of digital technologies, banks have the opportunity to create a framework for finding balance between front-office and compliance teams that can be hardened and used to scale other digital pursuits going forward.

Understanding the internal disconnect between compliance and the business 

Becoming digital is an imminent priority for most banks. It requires a significant investment of time, money, and people resources, but there’s often a tactical disconnect banks must also confront: ensuring healthy front-office conditions to support sales and servicing while upholding necessary compliance requirements. 

It’s critical to have the right people involved early in requirements gathering to succeed in any digital effort. This is especially true for digital onboarding and customer lifecycle management since the work touches so many parts of the bank.  

Different teams have different ideas. Regulatory compliance, sales, operations, and customer service all have their own priorities. Yet there’s only so much a compliance office can allow, meaning banks must find ways to balance the needs of the front office while also adhering to regulations. Ultimately both the business and compliance teams need each other to accomplish their end goals, so working collaboratively together to define requirements and implement systems will result in the best product for users and the resulting customer experience.

Find common ground between business and compliance 

Each team has its own priorities. But their ultimate goal is the same: build a successful financial institution. While balancing these different needs is not an easy feat, it is possible to reach a conclusion where every party wins. Here’s where we recommend getting started.

  • Align on need. For customer lifecycle management, gathering KYC information for onboarding and ongoing monitoring is an area ripe for improvement through partnership from both the business and compliance sides. Compliance can help design a solution that ensures that all necessary customer information is collected while leveraging logic and integrations to other systems to assist with identify verification. In turn, the front line asks customers smarter questions once and in a specific order that predicates what other questions/ answers are needed. The result is a better customer experience because information is given once and a better employee experience because the system drastically reduces the potential for human error. 
  • Understand the constraints. Ask teams to spend a “day in the life” in each other’s departments, allowing each other to understand how various decisions affect each other.  
  • Set mutual goals. Collaboratively define the ideal outcome and KPIs and metrics that both teams are trying to achieve together. Sales-oriented staff will want to understand their customers’ stickiness and the percentage of wallet share. Compliance staff will want to ensure that the overall risk tolerance of the bank is not exceeded. A digital lifecycle management tool can quickly provide initial customer risk ratings to help determine if a customer should be banked or if they are too risky. It can also help manage changes in a customer’s risk profile over time and alert the bank when a change needs to be investigated. 
  • Create internal champions. Identify champions who buy in early and can help identify the right stakeholders across the enterprise and build consensus. 

Ultimately, onboarding and lifecycle management tools—like all digital tools and services—must be implemented and configured in such a way that they can flex and expand with your institution. This means taking in new data, allowing for new integrations, being able to adjust to changing sales and compliances needs, and providing the ability to generate reports instantly regardless of what type of data is access. 

Consider where your institution is in its digital journey. Do you have the right tools and systems to bridge the different needs of your front line and your compliance team? Can you easily keep your front line informed on customer behavior and potential sales opportunities? Can you easily supply regulators with the data and reports that they require? If you answered “no” to any of those questions, it’s time to begin thinking differently about digital.

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