The Art of Onboarding

Ronald te Velde, Eppo Heemstra, Gijs Schreuder
Connective Payments, April 2024

Do we still have to convince you of the need for a fast and seamless onboarding process? Every financial institution that wants to enter into meaningful, productive and lasting relationships with potential business clients knows the importance of a seamless online introduction. A crucial process in which a lot of boxes have to be ticked: it involves gathering personal and financial information of a potential business client, verifying his identity, assessing the client’s risk profile, and determining the appropriate level of service or product offerings that meet his needs. While you are making that assessment, you might as well seize the opportunity to educate your potential customer on your products and services, provide guidance on the use of the available mobile tools and engage in ongoing, positive communication.
In short: an onboarding process with a state-of-the-art user experience, while ensuring compliance with legal requirements and limiting the risk of fraud, money laundering and other financial crimes, should be central to your business strategy. Designing and executing it can rightly be called an art: the Art of Onboarding.

Benchmark study

How is this art performed in practice? Last year we conducted a comprehensive benchmark study on the quality of the onboarding processes at 13 financial institutions active in the Netherlands: ABN AMRO, Bunq, CCV, Finom, ING, Knab,, Multisafepay, Mollie, Triodos, SNS Bank, Stripe and Rabobank.

The main objective was to find out how well these processes are designed and executed from the perspective of small and medium-sized (SME) companies looking to become customers. For this purpose, we established a web shop to run the onboarding processes and assess and compare them, based on the following set of evaluation criteria:

  • User experience: the ease with which the page to become a customer can be found, the reachability and availability of communication methods, the conciseness of texts and the (number of) available languages.
  • Speed: the time it takes to get a response, the number of interactions, the relevance of the questions and the duration of the entire process.
  • Customer due diligence: the way compliance with legal KYC obligations is organised, i.e. automated or manual, the extent to which clear language is used both during the process and in the contract, and the options for signing the contract: digitally or only physically or both.
  • Product offering: this criterion includes clarity about the types of products and services, incentives and the accessibility and transparency of the price schedule.

All operational onboarding processes were scored on these four criteria on a five point scale, ranging from poor, fair, good, very good to excellent.

Key observations from the study

  • The general state of the onboarding processes of financial institutions in the Netherlands is overall advanced, automated and fast, with exceptions.
  • All onboarding processes are digitalised, which makes a big difference in the speed in which a business client can sign-up with financial institutions, as well as in the experience.
  • In most processes there was minimal need for interactions with personnel of the financial institutions.
  • However, some financial institutions still maintain as an option the “in person” onboarding where the business client needs to visit their office. This was observed when we encountered technical difficulties in the process and upon calling customer support, we were suggested the alternative of going to a bank office (Rabobank).
  • Most financial institutions that were examined had a digital means of verifying the identity. This was done by using either an in-house or a third-party mobile app with which the ID or passport needed to be scanned, as well as a short video of the face in real time and the result was shown immediately. Nevertheless, there were several financial institutions in which verification of identity was not automated. In these cases, it was required to upload a picture of the ID or passport.

Room for improvement

  • We encountered several technical difficulties during our onboarding process, such as an unstable website page, rejection with no reason nor solution for proof of identity.
  • Another important point is the accessibility for non-local customers. Several financial institutions did not have an option to change the language to English. Only ABN AMRO offered accessibility options for people with disabilities.
  • In several cases, there were errors which were unclear as to why. These required many interactions via telephone and email with the financial institutions, which could not explain why there were errors (e.g. Therefore, this could be a major deterrent for a potential client even if the process appears to be smooth and digital in the beginning.
  • Based on this study, it can be concluded that there is room for improvement in the onboarding processes for several financial institutions, such as:
    • Triodos, which although the process was digitalised and centralised on their Dashboard, it was rather manual, uploading scans and quite unclear, as well as taking up to three months to be evaluated, which indicates a very manual onboarding process.
    • CCV, which at first presented technical difficulties in selecting the service and onboarding (having experienced two different website interfaces). However, it was a good and easy experience in verifying identity through the Dutch iDIN (logging into Dutch Bank Account).

As mentioned in our key observations, the general picture is that for a small but proud company like our pop-up webshop, becoming a customer of one of the 13 financial institutions surveyed is an overall good experience. That said, there are some exceptions and there are areas for improvement at each of the institutions. We would like to refer to the report for these detailed findings, and for a methodological justification of the research. But to raise one tip of the veil, the company that showed the best in class (of 13) results against our evaluation criteria was Mollie, with “excellent” scores on user experience, speed and customer due diligence, and “very good” on product offering. Well done, Mollie.


Why read The Art of Onboarding?

This report provides detailed insights and serves as a point of comparison for your onboarding process with a benchmark of the main financial institutions in The Netherlands. The overall value that you can derive from this study is that it gives you the opportunity to:

  • Optimize efficiency – By evaluating the onboarding process and identifying areas for improvement, you can streamline your company’s procedures, reduce the time it takes to onboard new clients, and increase your overall efficiency.
  • Enhance customer satisfaction – a seamless onboarding experience is a key factor in retaining customers and building strong relationships. Paying attention to user experience, the customer due diligence process, the speed and the product offering, your business can ensure that your clients are satisfied from the outset.
  • Boost revenue – a well-executed onboarding process can lead to increased revenue in the long run. By providing a positive user experience, a clear and relevant customer due diligence process and an overall speedy and relevant onboarding process, businesses can build strong relationships with their clients and establish a reputation for excellence, leading to more referrals and repeat business.

Please find the full report here. 

Connective Payments track record

Very recently we managed a project improving the customer onboarding process at one of the companies that were in scope in this benchmark study. The project consisted of three parts. First, several quick wins were achieved in the form of process and organizational adjustments. Think of KPIs, dashboards, agile approach, etc., but also by collecting more information at an early stage of the process. This saved 10% on the total lead time in a short period of time. For the second part, relatively minor IT adjustments were required to reduce manual transfer moments and to automate simple process steps. This part could be realized within a couple of months, resulting in a potential reduction in lead time of 50 to 70%. In addition, a third part was defined that requires integrated strategic changes. The objective is to achieve “near instant onboarding”, also for complex files.

During this project, work was done on all three of these components, where possible in parallel. As project manager, subject matter experts and policy experts, we ensured (among others) that the purpose always remained clear and measurable (how much improvement in lead time, error reduction percentage, higher revenues, and impact on the bottom line) and that the right priorities were set.

Connective Payments is here to help you

At Connective Payments, we have extensive experience helping financial institutions to improve their customer onboarding processes. We know how to give your clients a seamless and fast onboarding experience, and at the same time ensure robust legal compliance with the Wwft and the CDD guidelines of the DNB and the AFM. In case you are inspired by this benchmark study and you wish to move from words to deeds, please contact Ronald, Eppo or Gijs and let’s talk!

Picture of Ronald te Velde

Ronald te Velde

Connective Payments
Growth Enabler | Managing partner
+31 657 343 406

Picture of Eppo Heemstra

Eppo Heemstra

Connective Payments

Partner, PSD2 lead & Compliance

+31 620 352 007

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