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Kevin Greenard: Opening accounts remotely is the future

We offer all new clients the option to either open new accounts the traditional way or electronically. Traditionally we would print the documents out and meet with the client to obtain signatures.
Kevin Greenard

We offer all new clients the option to either open new accounts the traditional way or electronically.

Traditionally we would print the documents out and meet with the client to obtain signatures.

Another popular option, which we will discuss below, is to have your accounts opened electronically. One of the main benefits of the electronic method is the ability for clients to approve accounts remotely (from their own home).

Streamlining the process

We attempt to streamline the account opening process as much as possible. For existing clients a 10 minute discussion in person, or on the phone, to reconfirm our information on file enables us to gather all the required regulatory information to open accounts. For new clients, the gathering of the required regulatory information takes about 30 minutes, and is typically gathered by the portfolio manager. A member of our team will then input all of this information and obtain the new account numbers on our client’s behalf.

In-person traditional method

Traditionally, we met with a new client in person to review the account opening documents and obtain their signatures. Financial service firms are famous for having a flood of paper work that we are obligated to get signed. This is especially the case if you are a new client and opening an account for the first time. Have you ever gone into a financial institution and been presented with multiple documents for your immediate signature? So much information is discussed verbally that it can be tough to remember all the important details.

Remote electronic approval

Technically, meeting in person is not a requirement to open accounts. We know that our clients are often very busy and so being efficient is always appreciated. After the discussion with the portfolio manager, we can easily put all the important account opening details in a summary email rather than a verbal conversation. You can then save these for your future reference. Wouldn’t it be nice to receive the account opening documents ahead of time electronically so you can read through them thoroughly, on your own schedule, before signing in the event you had any questions? We refer to the sign of documents electronically as ‘e-sign.’

Remote approval scenarios

Below I have highlighted a few situations where remote approval has been beneficial for both existing and new clients. In all of these situations, we have been able to help clients without them waiting to schedule a face to face:

• Client prefers the efficiency of having the account(s) opened quickly and not having to wait for a future meeting (in some cases we can have accounts opened in the same day)

• All documents are electronic , easy to save and store, and it is good for the environment

• Individuals who are busy working and cannot dedicate the time to travel to our office

• Individuals who are away for extended travel, but still need account changes

• Individuals who are referred from an existing client, but the couple is not in the immediate area

• Individuals with health concerns and would prefer not to meet in person at this time

• During this pandemic, we were able to continue opening accounts for existing and new clients, even with social distancing measures

• Receiving an inheritance and wishing to isolate these funds into a separate account

• Additional savings in the bank and wanting to open a Tax Frees Savings Account

• Turning 71 and needing to convert an RRSP account to a RRIF account

Mixed traditional and electronic

There have been many situations over the years where we have assisted with the opening of new accounts through verbal discussions on the phone and exchanging information in the mail and electronically (e-sign). For registered account, not all documents are available via e-sign so some documents will need to be signed in person or by mail. An example of this is the beneficiary form for a registered account. Any required document that we need a signature for can be completed either at your portfolio manager’s office or at home and sent in by mail.

Client involvement with digital process

As the client, you become actively involved in your account application when it is sent to you to digitally sign (e-sign) it. You will input or review any relevant information, if required, and provide your digital signature for any relevant documents. The advisory team can provide step-by-step instructions to assist you. Once you complete inputting or reviewing your information, your application will be reviewed by your portfolio manager and adviser team, after which you will be prompted to e-sign account agreement documents

Step-by-step instructions

Every financial institution that enables e-sign will have their own new account application process. Typically, the process will involve three steps, obtaining the reference number and email link.

Reference # This unique number will allow you to access the website with your new individual accounts Couples will each get a unique reference number. Couples will also get another unique reference number if they have joint accounts. This reference number will be given to you by a member of your adviser team.

Email The email contains a link to the website where you can either review or enter your relevant information, e-sign or access your account agreement documents. You will need the reference number and last name as identification.

SMS Message A Short Message Service or SMS message will be sent to your mobile phone with a code to use as a final authentication step to access the website.

Once you have entered the website you will be guided to approve or enter relevant personal information, consent to Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), and provide the regulatory information. Once you are finished, you click submit. The adviser team member who initiated the application will be notified by email to review and approve your new account(s) application.

E-sign the account holder forms

After the information is reviewed and approved by your advisory team, you will receive emails regarding new account opening and document ready for e-signature or document ready for download. The links provided in this email are from the same secure website where the account information was originally entered. At this stage you can either download the forms (print them) and sign manually or e-sign the account holder form(s). To help clients, there is an e-sign icon that indicates how many signatures are needed. If you click on that icon it moves to the first Click to Sign area. You then e-sign and confirm. You will have to repeat this for each document that needs your electronic signature.

I remember years ago people didn’t want to use the ATM machines when they first came out as they were not 100 per cent comfortable using them. They preferred to see a bank teller instead. However, today the use of ATMs are main stream due to their client convenience. Our prediction is that opening an account remotely and through e-sign will also become a more common option in the near future, and main stream longer term.

Kevin Greenard CPA CA FMA CFP CIM is a portfolio manager and director, wealth management with The Greenard Group at Scotia Wealth Management in Victoria. His column appears every week at Call 250-389-2138.