The Friday before the official UK lockdown began, PassFort went remote. It happened without any effort really. We’re a Google house, used Slack, our platform is cloud-based, the whole team worked from home on Wednesdays as standard. So overnight, PassFort was set to carry on business as usual in a world that was far from usual anymore.
This wasn’t the same for all businesses, obviously, but most have adapted quickly and that’s something to be proud of. It shows when the impetus is there – and the financial crisis has certainly provided a lot of impetus – change is possible at speed. And, much innovation is born of adversity.
Financial services [FS] businesses that previous weren’t considering moving to cloud-based or SaaS technology or who had it somewhere in their roadmap can now see the obvious benefits. The perceived risks associated with SaaS tech now seem navigable, as even staff aren’t “on-premise” anymore and manual processes are less effective, assuming they are possible at all.
On 31 March, the FCA issued a letter to CEOs on the topic of identity verification (ID&V). It was clear they understood that some traditional methods of verification were no longer available to firms. However, while understanding this fact the FCA also made it clear “…we expect firms to continue to comply with their obligations on client identity verification.”
I’m talking to more and more financial services firms about accelerating digital transformation of their KYC and KYB processes, including ID&V. This is to ensure they can still onboarding clients and convert them to account, while completing appropriate due diligence, AML and risk monitoring. Not all financial services firms are suffering the same fate in this crisis. Asset management, wealth management, trading platforms, online payments are some examples of financial services businesses seeing more volume than forecast. They therefore need a way to complete due diligence checks appropriate to the current operating environment.
Easing digital transition
Taking into account requirements for risk management and compliance, as well as the need to build trust with new clients and good online experiences, I’m working with FS firms to digitally map their onboarding journeys. This can be achieved fairly quickly – within a few weeks.
We can integrate their data providers to complete due diligence checks online. KYC or Onboarding teams can work in the PassFort portal on full case management. And, as well as teams collaborating, PassFort can be used to communicate directly with customers, to collect ID documents for example.
Features of digital onboarding
As well as the obvious benefits of being able to conduct full customer due diligence online, there are other features of digital onboarding important in a virtual operating environment.
- Escalation - You can configure automatic escalation on cases based on risk or other data for management to review or enhanced due diligence
- Team Notes - Teams can document decisions to share insight and maintain a history of activity when they aren’t in the same place
- Notifications – Individuals in a team are notified when their attention is needed on a case, or when relevant changes happen to an application – great if they are balancing work with other priorities, like home schooling
- Single Sign-on – You can enforce security policies to make sure confidential information is kept secure wherever people are working
Readying for the future
While your transition to a SaaS customer onboarding solution might be born of adversity, actually it makes good sense for the future.
Firstly, following Covid-19 we have to ask whether anyone will want to make a retrograde step back to manual processes and interactions for transactional activity, like ID&V. There is undoubtedly value in talking to customers and building relationships but that can be done through interactions that add more value.
Secondly, this situation is far from over. While there is talk of lockdown easing and an end to social distancing, it hasn’t happened yet. I, for one, am hopeful I will be back in the office working with colleagues again and meeting clients in person again very soon, but none of us know when it will actually be. Or whether the same situation won’t arise again.
It makes good sense to be prepared for these eventualities and to know that if the need arises, we can move fast and operate normally in an abnormal world.
To speak to Oliver about your approach to digital transformation of KYC, compliance and risk management, please contact him anytime - he would love to hear from you.