How automation takes the pain out of onboarding and certification

By Christine Blinke
May 2, 2017

For many sell-side firms, client onboarding and certification is a drag on productivity. The traditional methods used to perform these processes are manual, and therefore time-consuming. Because the process is so labor intensive, some firms maintain substantial backlogs of clients waiting for connections to trade. Slow onboarding is costing the business, as it leads to client frustration. This is not only an issue when new clients are involved. Existing clients also go through the onboarding process each time they start to trade new markets or when the sell-side makes a major system upgrade.

Fortunately, automation now offers a solution for making onboarding and certification more efficient. Automating key manual processes can immediately help firms reduce operational costs and shorten the time to revenue, while improving the user experience as well as customer retention and satisfaction in the long term.

No threat to human touch

With this insight, why is still only about 20 percent of client onboarding automated? One assumption about automation is that it signals a mechanical, impersonal connection between firms and clients. I would rather argue for the opposite perspective; that the time saved by automating routine tasks allows for more personal interaction on more critical issues. Human contact should always be an option, available at all times when clients want.

With manual certification, troubleshooting is a laborious process which requires browsing huge log files to track down the error. Using the proper automation tools, feedback on errors can be reported clearly and identified immediately through a convenient interface.

The productivity gains are dramatic. An onboarding process that used to take weeks or months can often be streamlined down to just a few hours. But the benefits of automated onboarding and certification go beyond cost and time savings, as there is also a positive impact on quality and reliability.

Extend the scope of testing

Manual processes effectively limit the scope of testing, as time and budget will not allow for more complex scenarios. With automation, firms can perform more testing and do it more continuously and consistently. An advanced test platform allows for more realistic and precise test cases, by automating the entry of large numbers of data points.

There’s still no way to test every instance that could ever happen, but you can get close by taking a systematic approach to identifying scenarios and subject these to repetitive testing related to the level of risk.

Automated onboarding can be performed with built-in, instant certification and managed as a single process. This helps increase the reliability of trading systems, while making the risks involved more manageable.

Easier to upgrade

Automating the onboarding process makes it much easier for a sell-side firm to upgrade the FIX connectivity layer. During an infrastructure migration, all clients need to be onboarded again, and the broker must ensure the ability to route orders is not impacted. The prospect of doing this manually can discourage firms from performing a valuable upgrade. But if the onboarding process is automated, improving (and future-proofing) the firm’s own FIX infrastructure, it becomes a much simpler and less daunting task.


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