In 2019, banks made significant strides in implementing electronic signatures to push forward into the next phase of the digital transformation movement and meet the demands of modern consumers.
While consumer expectations remain the leading driver for the adoption of e-signatures, banks should not overlook the potential for e-signatures to transform other areas of the institution.
Read on to learn how leaders at two different community banks used e-signatures to give their institutions an edge in business services, particularly in digital transaction management, treasury management and relationship management.
Digital transaction management
With electronic signatures that enable self-service capabilities now well-established, banks are broadening their focus to operations such as rules-controlled digital transaction management and compliance.
Banks are increasingly looking to e-signature platforms to ensure the proper procedure occurs for each transaction, and that the right documents are presented to the right person at the right time. By focusing on automated workflows in combination with e-signatures, transactions can be completed with fewer errors and all approvals secured with ease.
Warsaw, Indiana-based Lake City Bank is among the institutions pursuing digital transformation through e-signatures. Kevin Deardorff, its executive vice president and retail banking manager, says e-signatures are a key component in Lake City Bank’s goal of moving to a completely paperless environment.
“Every document, including internal paperwork, new employee onboarding materials and even new address forms, are examined for ways to incorporate them into our digital strategy,” Deardorff says. “We’ve recognized significant savings in almost every department by taking this approach, by reducing our reliance on paper across the board.”
Lake City Bank has eliminated many paper-based reports by leveraging electronic reporting, including automated archiving of documents. This can drive increased accuracy, which boosts security and compliance requirements. The bank remains committed to its overall branch transformation strategy of incorporating digital processes whenever possible. Its advice to other community banks is to look at e-signatures as a catalyst in shifting to an electronic environment.
“This is an evolving strategy and one where we constantly look for new processes that can be digitized,” Deardorff said. “It’s one of the few initiatives that ultimately saves the bank’s money, time and resources, while better serving our customers, improving their overall experience and providing resources that shows we value their time.”
As banks expand the application of e-signatures across the entire organization, a top priority will be streamlining treasury management, traditionally a cumbersome, paper-based process. E-signatures can be used not only to complete treasury management requests, but to make the entire process digital and cohesive from end to end.
“Simply put, we can do business faster than the bank next door,” said Drew McMonigle, director of process improvement at CrossFirst Bank, based in Leawood, Kansas. “This really resonates with our business clients, with whom we work on an almost daily basis. Our turnaround time for getting documents out to clients is same day in most cases, which has given our treasury management bankers the ability to provide a positive client experience while boosting our efficiencies and competitive advantage.”
Electronic signatures enable business clients to sign off on any pending documents immediately on any device and regardless of business hours. Eliminating the need to rely on paper documents has freed CrossFirst Bank to streamline operations, which further improves efficiency, creates process scalability and provides clients with a more secure and convenient process.
E-signatures can also contribute to a bank’s ability to build loyalty across its digital footprint, from account opening to maintaining and growing relationships with existing clients. CrossFirst Bank wanted their users’ experience to be seamless, no matter the business system bankers use to produce documents or the system clients use to sign documents.
“We understand that, since most of our business is conducted outside of the four walls of the physical bank, we need to make the relationship easy to facilitate, with minimum friction, all while delighting our clients,” McMonigle said. “With e-signatures, we have now found a way to execute documents electronically so that we may do business anywhere at any time and ensure that the experience is an engaging one.”
Though most of us as consumers have come to expect our banks to offer some kind of e-signature functionality, Lake City Bank and CrossFirst Bank have gone further by finding more ways to apply e-signature solutions in both their customer-facing efforts as well as their back-office systems.
As competition from fintech and third-party providers increases, financial institutions must ensure that the digital experience they offer is as seamless and worthwhile as possible. This includes delivering new and dynamic methods for consumers to complete and sign documents, as well as enhancing back-office processes and associated tasks to encourage process flow and efficiency across the institution.
John Levy is the executive vice president of Rahway, N.J.-based IMM, a provider of e-signature and digital transaction solutions designed exclusively for financial institutions.
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