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Client onboarding assessment: Creating clarity before committing to change

The challenges of the last 18 months, Brexit, the global pandemic and increasing demands for greater transparency and market control are driving change at a breath-taking pace in Financial Services. Banks are under great pressure to deliver efficiency and lower cost operations, and as a result, are taking an ‘invest to save’ approach within their client onboarding and client lifecycle management (CLM) functions.

Committing resources to design systems, processes and technology that will deliver long term benefits and cost reductions, certainly makes a great deal of sense. However, how do you ensure successful delivery of significant change programmes when teams are already stretched and mandatory regulatory change takes precedence?

A few questions to answer

Before committing a significant amount of resource, time and budget to a change initiative it is essential to review the situation on the ground and determine whether the right foundations are in place. This involves answering several key questions such as:

  • Are the outcomes for the proposed change clearly understood and articulated?
  • Is it clear what parts of your onboarding and CLM function need to change?
  • Is it clear how the change can be delivered and what skills may be required?
  • Do your team have a clear vision for the function, how this will develop over time and where the proposed change fits within the overall picture?
  • Are the existing processes, policy and procedures fit for purpose, or will these require amendment in advance or in parallel with, the change cycle?

Answering these questions will enable you to determine whether you have the right foundations in place and whether you are confident of the successful outcomes of the change.

In our experience, programmes without these solid foundations often encounter problems at some point in their delivery cycle. Time and sometimes stakeholder confidence can often be lost in the complex process of putting these underpinnings in place while the programme is in flight.

Building the foundations

It is best to approach the initial start-up phase of an onboarding project in two stages. The first stage involves the completion of a rapid ‘initial assessment’, focussed on generating an overview of the function and ensuring that the challenge or problem statement is clear. Once the core of the challenge is understood, it is then possible to focus on specific elements of the change that will be critical to success. This is achieved through one or more ‘discovery workshops’.

Initial assessment

The initial assessment involves a rapid review of the current situation on the ground. This can be completed as a standalone exercise but is often initiated in response to a tactical short term ask that needs to be defined and clarified before resources are committed.

Why complete an initial assessment?

Before embarking upon any change initiative, it is critical to ensure that you and your team have a clear understanding of the challenge, this will include answers to the questions:

  • What are the key strategic drivers of change within your organisation, Operational efficiency; risk management; or customer experience?
  • Where are the key challenges across procedure, policy, process, technology and data?
  • What is the scope and scale of any change required?
  • What are the overall organisational constraints, including budget availability, skills requirements, management overhead and stakeholder engagement?

Assessment Format:

An initial assessment can be conducted relatively quickly. Over the course of one to two hours the senior manager or delegated members of the team will answer a series of questions designed to rapidly understand:

  • The focus of the challenge;
  • Critical factors contributing to the challenge;
  • The skills, teams and functions required to generate a solution; and
  • The level of complexity along with other key factors which will influence the effort required to be successful.


The aim of this exercise is to deliver a clear articulation of what needs to change and the priority in which each component should be tackled. This approach can be used to generate clarity around a project, programme or even to draft an initial portfolio of change initiatives that may be required to deliver a specific outcome for your business.


The efficiency of the process is enhanced by working through a proven question framework such as the ‘Beyond Initial Client Assessment’. This has been refined over time to get to the core of issues quickly, saving you time and money. This also helps you gain clarity on the problem statement as quickly as possible and form up an approach to deliver against your client onboarding change agenda.

Discovery Workshops

The initial assessment will provide a clear idea of the general scope, scale and focus of the change. Once these fundamentals are well understood it is often greatly beneficial to run one or more deep-dive sessions to address the highest priority initiatives and work through initial solutions design, identify potential risks and issues and put in place a plan to commence work and begin the implementation cycle.

Why complete detailed discovery workshops?

These sessions can be invaluable, providing the opportunity to clarify what ‘success looks like’ for each of the key stakeholders and to confirm the specific constraints that will impact the initiative. In the discovery workshops you should aim to:

  • Breakout the low-level detail of a specific challenge
  • Brainstorm workable solutions
  • Understand the full spectrum of skills needed to deliver successfully
  • Confirm how to measure baseline metrics to enable measurement of performance improvement, efficiency and ROI over time.
  • Develop a high-level plan and agree high-level cross functional governance structures required to deliver the outcome

Workshop format:

In our experience one or more half day discovery workshops can be extremely effective. Committing the time to a workshop of this nature provides an opportunity for your team to step away from BAU activities and focus wholly on this strategic challenge and set the direction for the future.

To make this effort a success, it is critical to bring together the right team -  those who can opine on details and have the authority to take the findings of the session forward to confirm budgets and engage with key stakeholders.


Discovery workshops seek to provide a detailed problem statement, initial draft of solution options, proposed method of benefits measurement and a plan for immediate next steps.


Beyond have structured and delivered many workshops over the years. We find that effective planning is the key to getting the most out of these sessions. We work with you to ensure that the right team is assembled, the right questions are posed and your team is facilitated to extract the maximum amount of value from the discussion.

Bringing it all together - the case for change

The intention of both the initial assessment and discovery workshops is to rapidly produce all the information you need for your business case for change. The ultimate outcome will be that your team is able to clearly articulate the need for change, the desired end state, options to achieve this outcome and communicate a consistent and compelling narrative to senior stakeholders.

Taking a genuine clarity of purpose into the start of a change cycle is incredibly powerful. It will enable your team to structure work by gaining momentum early in the delivery cycle, prioritising quick wins and realising early value against targeted benefits. These can then be reported to stakeholders to demonstrate a culture of success and develop a positive change mindset within the delivery team. Equally, clarity will help your team focus on the right activities, to work with greater autonomy and critically, help them to manage the inevitable issues and risks that will materialise at the project matures.


The team at Beyond have partnered with a range of financial institutions to lead numerous turn-around and change implementation programmes in client onboarding over the years. We know that there are critical foundations which must be in place to ensure successful delivery of change within client onboarding and the wider operational environment.  We take our clients through a rapid and cost-effective process to break down complex challenges into a highly structured set of component parts, each with defined outputs and outcomes. This approach generates clarity, creates momentum and critically makes an ambitious target feel far more achievable in the short term.

If you would like to know more about our assessments or Discovery Workshops, please drop me a message. I would welcome the opportunity to talk through and understand your challenges and change requirements.





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Alistair Catto

Alistair Catto

Managing Director


Member since

05 Jan 2021



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