For example, a KPMG article suggests that in order to stay competitive, financial institutions have to solve the customer-cost-revenue equation. The only way to be able to achieve that goal is by taking transformative actions like becoming a digital firm. Studies conducted by KPMG, Forresters and Deloitte indicate that many financial services firms now realize that and are taking bold steps to move forward and evolve their businesses.

The Covid pandemic has accelerated the focus on putting digital transformation front and center for many companies as they are keeping up with customer demands and making sure they have ways to engage with clients in different ways. That is why firms like Deloitte focus on helping companies accelerate digital transformation, creating experiences that keep customers at the core while modernizing technology to ensure high level engagement and long-term growth.

At Docupace, we work directly with firms, as well as side by side with consulting firms like Deloitte, to deliver a fully integrated approach to digital transformation. We work with organizations of different sizes to help them recognize and promote the importance of starting or accelerating the process of becoming a digital firm right now. That is why it is exciting for us to see that a recently conducted survey of financial services firms confirms that 49% of respondents have accelerated digital transformation of their organizations. For us, more than 94% of customers see the technology as “critical to the success of their business”.

Hortz: Can you walk us through a few examples of how different financial firms have successfully applied digital strategies to their business challenges and opportunities?
Pinsker: Absolutely. Let’s take a midsize broker-dealer firm, for example, who happened to be a Docupace client. This firm has been using the Docupace digital platform in their back office handling all transactions digitally. However, they wanted to ease their advisors to the adoption of digital technology and, as a result, made use of our workflow and document management system as an add-on option. The result was that about 45% of the advisors advanced their technology exposure, while the remaining group continued to use their manual, paper-driven processes.

When the pandemic hit in early 2020, this was no longer an option. The firm quickly realized that those advisors who were operating digitally, the same as their back office, were positioned significantly better to deal with the effects of the pandemic. The broker-dealer firm quickly mandated the use of the technology to all advisors and rolled it out seamlessly to the rest of the group. The result was that throughout the pandemic, the business did not diminish and continued to operate efficiently in the remote environment effectively serving their clients. This is an example where being a few steps ahead on the digital transformation journey helped the firm to adapt very quickly to the unforeseen situation.

Another example was a prominent clearing firm. A couple of years back, they started their digital journey and decided to completely overhaul their back-office technology and systems, but also wanted to provide a completely new digital experience to their correspondent firms and their advisors. The technology rollout focused on fully immersive experiences that were guided and supported by multiple systems behind the scenes. It was done with an eye not only on the advisor, but also engaging their investor clients in the digital process.

The complete redesign of the workflows, processes around them, back-end systems that handled millions of data records, and the front-end experience led to amazing results. According to Greg Beltzer, Head of Technology at RBC Wealth Management: “The account opening transactions that use to take two weeks, now takes 24 minutes. On top of that, because of the adoption of the digital technology, average revenue for accounts that are digitally opened increased by 15% within the first 90 days.” It has become much easier to do business with the firm.

As you can see by these examples, there are different ways of successfully implementing digital strategies. It works for firms of different sizes, regardless, if you are an individual advisor office or a large institution. The benefits and effects of becoming digital are clear.

Hortz: What are some best examples on how to develop digital strategies that are truly transformative? Is it all about the technology or are there other elements involved?
Pinsker: Developing a digital strategy for a firm is an all-encompassing undertaking. It should cover several key elements: technology, processes, operations, and people.  In many situations it is not enough to put a great system or combination of systems in place. 

One would need to make sure that systems talk to each other, and for that, you need to understand what the process is. Does your current process need to change because you are adopting a new system?  In most cases, the answer is yes. Once you start changing your processes, you would want to see what kind of adjustment that would bring to your operation, and how your people will be impacted in their day-to-day operation.