Client Onboarding

Where accountancy firms go wrong with client onboarding 

First impressions count and often have a lasting impact on the client relationship. Attracting and securing clients is also a costly job. Simon Leek, Founder of FibreCRM talks about how tech can benefit client onboarding

According to a previous report by Invesp, they estimate that it costs five times as much to attract a customer as to keep an existing one. With such a significant investment, firms cannot afford to fail at the first hurdle when it comes to the onboarding process, and yet, by their anecdotal admissions, this is an area that many firms struggle with.

Whether it is drawing up an effective initial proposal or completing the various compliance steps, such as Know Your Client (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) procedures, many firms find onboarding difficult.

Simon Leek

Why is client onboarding challenging?

Realistically, the process of onboarding isn’t itself complex, it is more the draw on resources and time that is required to successfully start work with a client.

Not only does it require firms to prepare documents for each new client, but they must also draw out the information from the client directly and later publish it to the practice management software to complete many essential onboarding tasks.

This often effectively results in double or triple data entry, as information is transferred from one place to another.

Not only is this laborious and inefficient, but it can create additional data security risks as well.

Although many of these tasks are often handled by administrators within a firm or more junior professionals, they must have continued oversight from managers and partners.

This often pulls them away from existing client work, creating frustration and inefficiency, while sometimes testing the patience of experts, who could otherwise be performing billable work or securing new clients.

Ultimately then, inefficient onboarding creates a pinch point within many firms that restricts their capacity and limits their growth.

How can technology assist firms with onboarding? 

Existing practice management software has its limitations, and while there are often integrations that work with other platforms and content providers, there often is not a single streamlined service.

This has been the basis for the innovations that we have created as a business. We believe in a single solution, not a patchwork collection of disjointed apps and programmes, some of which do and don’t integrate with one another.

This approach is confusing and often complicates what should be a simple process. With the power of the cloud and the various APIs that exist, there is now a much easier, straightforward approach that firms can take.

Using solutions like our own, it is possible to handle every stage of onboarding from creating a proposal document that automatically pulls in key information from practice management software, to drawing up and templating critical processes, such as KYC, AML and e-signing.

What’s more, this then feeds back into wider CRM solutions opening up even greater opportunities to upsell, cross-sell and improve the client relationship once it is established.

We have seen first-hand from a number of firms in the UK, US and Canada how technology, such as our own, can more than halve the time it takes to onboard a new client.

This has freed up valuable time so that our clients can take on more of their own clients without needing more staff while creating interactions that are modern and digitally astute.


The expectations of clients have changed considerably in the last few years, and inevitably, as part of this, they expect accountancy firms to be more switched on and active when it comes to technology.

While once firms may have been concerned about the loss of the ‘personal touch’, many practices and professionals better appreciate the efficiencies that automation delivers.

While many have already seen and are employing the benefits of practical, online accounting software to save them time with client compliance, fewer are yet to invest in, and experience, the ways that technology can help with other functions in their practice.

Onboarding is one area where the use of carefully integrated technology can alleviate the strain of running and growing a practice.

The management of these processes is becoming all the more critical in an age where the profession is struggling to recruit new staff to fulfil many of these essential, but time-consuming, practice management tasks.

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