How to Simplify Client Onboarding for Financial Services Firms

Onboarding new clients can be a daunting task for financial services firms. Not only do you have to collect all the necessary information, but you also have to ensure that your processes are smooth and efficient. Fortunately, there are ways to simplify the process and make it less overwhelming for both you and your clients like a bookkeeping client intake form or a customer onboarding template.

Client onboarding should be the least of your worries it should be a repeatable and streamlined process that extracts all the information you need from clients as easily as possible.

That way you don’t get distracted from your core competencies by sending reminder emails, sorting through emails, and searching for attachments.  Clients will also have a positive initial experience with your company, and get value from the relationship quicker.

In this article, we’ll look at how you can quickly simplify your client onboarding experience, specifically the document collection process. If you are frustrated with your onboarding process, then now is the time to start improving it.

Document collection – the sticking point for onboarding

Too often document collection is a complete pain. You either send your bookkeeping client a list of what you need by email and clients pick and choose what to send you and forget the rest. Or you use a cloud storage provider but still get confused about who has uploaded what to where, and who can’t because they don’t have a Google account, and so on.

Even if you are good at welcoming new clients and scoping out what they need, the ensuing onboarding steps can tarnish that great first impression.

So what should you do?

Automate repeatable low-value tasks

Automation is ideally suited for document collecting and organization. If you attempt it manually using email  It is possible that you start losing track of data, it is also tedious, time-consuming, and insecure.

Considering the current global context, your company’s continued success will also depend on your ability to use digital tools effectively. As Accounting Today writes:

The ability to integrate the latest tools into an accounting practice is a key indicator of firm’s ability to thrive in the future

Thankfully, when it comes to document collection, the tools you need are neither super complicated, expensive, or ‘transformative’ – which too often means they are hard to set up and use.

New client onboarding tools

Unsurprisingly, there are a considerable number of tools out there to help you simplify your new client onboarding process.

Broadly speaking, these fall into a few categories:

  • Scheduling tools to help you set up meetings
  • Proposal tools to help you with your initial first steps
  • Client management tools that help you manage the entire customer experience
  • Document collection software that focuses on streamlining content and file collection.
  • Customer onboarding template to increase new client onboarding activation in a few clicks.

In this article, we’ll concentrate on document collection software,  as this is often a bottleneck and is one of the easiest problems to solve.

For a more in-depth look at client onboarding refer to: The definitive guide to client onboarding for accounting firms by Karbon.

What onboarding problems does document collection software solve?

By using document collection software, you can improve these aspects of your onboarding process:

  • Reminder emails are automated so no more back and forth emails requesting a missing document
  • Upload pages carefully guide clients through what content they need to upload, so clients are less likely to forget to answer questions and upload documents in the first place
  • Files and content are sent directly to one place, usually your cloud provider, rather than stored in different locations
  • Document collection software offers a customized, professional process that leaves new clients with a good first impression
  • Onboarding takes less time so clients experience value from your company quicker, while you spend more time on your core competencies
  • Documents and confidential information is securely shared rather than vulnerable to hackers through email

Automatically collect documents together in one place, for example, in your cloud storage 

Why should accountants and wealth management companies use a new client intake form?

Client intake forms, particularly when you send them privately to very new clients, are a secure, low-cost, and repeatable way of collecting information and files.

Done well, they should provide a positive initial customer experience with your company. After all, if people come to you because they want help with complex finances and convoluted legislation the last thing they need is a complicated onboarding process.

Client intake forms will also help you meet stringent security requirements when it comes to client data. Email is often a target of scammers, while even shared cloud drives can be problematic.

This help document for Google Drive explains what they do to counteract phishing and malware. Popular cloud storage providers are often the targets of hacking as well. This article examines whether Dropbox is secure.

How does document collection software work for client onboarding?

The exact process will depend on your company and whether you prefer a high touch process or seek to automate as much as possible. The following offers a rough guide:

Create a new client intake form

You can use a new client intake form to gather key information about your client. You can also use the form to confirm what the client expects from you, and how your working relationship will progress. This way you can head off common client problems such as project creep and miscommunication.

This client intake form was created using File Request Pro. You can create one-page or multi-page forms.

Create a client intake form

Bookkeepers are always looking for new clients, and an intake form helps to onboard new clients quickly and efficiently. The form should request key documents and data that the bookkeeper needs in order to do their jobs, such as tax documents, receipts, bank statements, and insurance documents. The form should be simple for the client to use, with clear instructions on what needs to be uploaded.

An effective client onboarding form saves the bookkeeper time and ensures that they have all the information they need to get started.


Create Tax Return Checklist for Clients

Tax season is always a busy and stressful time around the office. Navigating clients can be tough as well when they don’t want to cooperate, slow down, or don’t respond sincerely.

One thing that’s important for running things smoothly: a checklist of tax preparation documents. That way, your clients know what they need to send or bring in.

Read more about creating Tax Return checklist with File Request Pro

Simple PBC Audits

A “Provided by Client” list,  or PBC List,  lists documents which will be needed to complete an audit on the client’s behalf. It serves as a checklist of what information the client is required to provide in order for the auditor to complete the audit.

File Request Pro makes a great solution to streamline and simplify your PBC audit process. Find out how to create a PBC request

Automate reminders

Automate client document requests, reminders, and thank you emails so that you minimize low-value back-and-forth communication with clients. You should be able to automate these emails based on a deadline or by stipulating how many days after a certain communication you want another email sent.

Watch the following video for a simple guide on how to automate your reminders for your new bookkeeping clients and customers:

Re-use templates and automated reminders

To keep your onboarding process as simple as possible, reuse your upload forms and automated reminders for different clients. You might need to make the occasional tweak, but this is much quicker than starting the process from scratch every time.

Document collection software like File Request Pro allow unlimited upload pages on even their most basic plan.

Ready to streamline your onboarding process with improved document collection?

These are your next steps:

  1. Sign up for a free trial of document collection software like File Request Pro
  2. As part of the onboarding process, connect the software to your cloud service provider (Microsoft OneDrive, SharePoint, GoogleDrive, and Dropbox)
  3. Create a customized upload form (10-15 minutes)
  4. Set up automated emails (10-15 minutes)
  5. Send your first upload form to a new client


Read more about File Request Pro – secure document collection software for accountants.