Onboarding Done Right

by DRUM, 15 Nov 2019

Long dominated by decades-old institutions, the financial services industry now finds itself adapting to a user-oriented online culture driven by a new crop of financial technology firms, or fintechs. Fintech companies accounted for 38 percent of all U.S. personal loans in 2018 — compared to 28 percent provided by traditional banks.

In our new age of near-instant turnaround, consumers are often put off by lengthy onboarding processes — and many say they’d be more likely to apply for a financial product if the process was fully online. These results give a glimpse into the shift in client expectations when it comes to choosing financial products and providers.

Fintechs lead the way in customer-centric approaches that prioritize a client’s first interaction with the firm — building a relationship from that first moment of contact. That moment, after all, is the user’s first chance to imagine how easy (and enjoyable) their experience will be on your site. A good first impression builds trust and can help you retain customers down the road. 

So what can traditional banks’ learn from popular fintech onboarding processes? Let’s see what we can learn from the ones that are doing it well.

Ally Bank: Usability Comes First

Ally, one of the largest “branchless” banks, charted a course for success by looking outside the financial industry to design an extremely user-friendly online space. They engaged in a purposeful design exercise centered on the persona of their target customer.

Ally dispatched its in-house user experience team to study the web’s most popular and usable websites: Kayak, Facebook, Google and more. Their research revealed a common trait: an uncluttered experience, with relevant information was displayed prominently, and functionality enhanced by design. The team discovered that new features weren’t the key; rather, they needed to make existing features easier to use and more consistent across devices. 

Wealthfront: Bring a Friend

The automated investing platform Wealthfront currently manages over $4.6 billion dollars from nearly 100,000 users. 

When seeking to enhance its onboarding process, Wealthfront took a cue from Dropbox — which had successfully generated a 60% increase in signups by offering users more storage space with every successful referral. 

Wealthfront launched its own referral program by offering users the chance to have an additional $5,000 managed for free with every successful referral. Wealthfront found that around 15% of people who were invited took up the offer and started investing on their platform. 

This method shows that, in addition to solid UX, financial firms can enjoy success when they seek to identify what motivates their targeted users and offer it in as a reward for boosting their recruitment efforts.

The Human Touch Still Matters

Early on, fintech companies quickly set themselves apart by designing nimble, adaptive online experiences. Large banks, featuring websites that were often cumbersome and mobile-unfriendly, began to be overshadowed in the wake of the fintechs’ sleeker UX.

But as older financial institutions have improved their UX, especially in the onboarding space, fintechs are working harder to set themselves apart. Many are attempting to make up the difference by focusing on their niche client segments and offering them hyper-personalized products, services and experiences. 

And despite all the fintech success stories out there, personal service isn’t falling by the wayside. Studies are showing that most individuals still value human interaction over technology; in fact, more than 46% of millennials are currently working with a financial advisor, while only about 24% have used a robo-advisor.

Furthermore, almost 69% of millennials say they believe financial advisors are more likely to yield greater returns on their investments than robo-advisors.

This tells us that the traditional financial institutions have a huge opportunity to draw new users by featuring the benefits of personal attention in contrast to quick-but-impersonal automated services. 

However, given the success fintechs have found in onboarding, all financial institutions should remember the importance of prioritizing the user’s ease and comfort when building an onboarding system.