“We believe the improvements we’re making today on CashPro Assistant will fundamentally change the client experience.” It’s a bold claim but Bank of America’s (BofA) Jennifer Boussuge, Managing Director, GT&O, Treasury FS&O Executive Global Banking & Markets, truly believes that, following months of research and design, the introduction of new online service dashboard and authority management tools will “dramatically simplify the lives” of the 500,000 users spread around the world, and in some cases working remotely, who access CashPro for their daily treasury needs.
The two new tools, which are now being rolled out by BofA through its self-service platform, CashPro Assistant, itself a component of the bank’s CashPro suite, will automate, and validate in real-time, both account opening and authorisation management activities allowing clients to be nimble as they adapt to working outside of their offices. The bank’s confidence in these enhancements stems from what Tom Durkin, Global Head of Financing and Channels in GTS, BofA, describes as a “thematic approach” to its investments in innovation. It is, he adds, one that is “powered by people and driven by technology” and focused on “bringing intelligent treasury to our clients”.
BofA has a well-developed sense of innovation across the organisation. “We’re always thinking about what we should be investing in to help our clients operate more efficiently,” says Durkin. Certainly, this restless approach sees the bank exploring emerging technologies. But he says it always applies a pragmatic lens that defines the application of solutions in terms of enhancements that can be delivered to the client, not least in the fields of risk management and fraud protection.
Tradition has it that the bank onboarding process for corporate clients is manual and slow; managing documentation for AML and KYC takes time and it’s a common pain-point. But Boussuge says BofA is transforming that experience into one that is “secure, simple, transparent and fast”.
As such, the service dashboard and authority management tools represent significant developments in terms of the client experience and, indeed, the creative processes that have been called upon to bring them to fruition.
Throughout the development process, the emphasis has been on end-to-end automation, a goal that sits well with the bank’s holistic vision for CashPro. The results represent a full front and back office overhaul within CashPro Assistant, taking out manual rekeying and hand-offs for clients.
“We have literally re-designed the entire end-to-end onboarding process for our clients, creating a faster, simpler, more transparent experience for them,” says Boussuge. The new service dashboard enables clients to quickly open and clearly view all implementation and service requests. But this is not just a visualisation tool, she insists; it is one designed for action, with end-to-end workflows and status alerts driving client progress, with the dashboard also acting as the nerve-centre of client/bank communications throughout the entire process.
It is now possible, in just one place, to see all the actions needed on every aspect of onboarding documentation, including those for legal and AML/KYC processes. In offering what Boussuge describes as a “clear visual guide for all the requirements”, it empowers users to respond to and manage those requirements, and electronically sign them (e-signatures can even be captured on the integrated CashPro Mobile app).
In centrally displaying all request details, the dashboard reveals to every individual with appropriate access rights, the full request scope, the necessary contacts, the required documentation, and the process status of each action. All of which can be done at any time the client chooses, not just in the office or during normal business hours.
The level of transparency the dashboard offers should be a major source of comfort for clients. This is complemented by the added security of knowing the precise status of every request at any given moment: status view shows clients the level of progress made for each action, helping them to expedite proceedings wherever needed. Such control is likely to be especially beneficial to clients with sophisticated treasury requirements across multi-regional accounts.
In practice, when accessing the front-end of CashPro Assistant, users can enter the servicing dashboard and drill down into their servicing and fulfilment requests. From here they may also communicate with the bank throughout the entire onboarding process. This is where clients will be able to see what actions are required, download, digitally sign and exchange documents, and track the progress of every stage throughout.
By automating aspects of back-office processing, manual re-keying and signoffs have been removed for the client. Now, for any onboarding action, the moment a client’s request is entered into the system, an automated search is made for all required documentation already held by the bank. The search is executed across the bank’s entire data store, so that repeat presentations of current documents, for a KYC refresh for example, become a thing of the past; the document list presented to the client consists only of what BofA does not already have.
The fluidity of the process allows for significant efficiencies to be created. Where something as simple as account number reservation was made more cumbersome by traditional manual processes – which required a mix of emails, phone calls, branch visits and spreadsheets – the new CashPro Assistant tools defy tradition. Clients no longer need to reach out to local branches and contact points to gather the information, explains Boussuge. “And through the new secure digital automation that we’ve created, we’ve reduced the time it takes from days to just minutes.”
The adoption of a holistic profile of client activities within CashPro Assistant means managing signatories for CashPro users has been turned on its head too. The traditional thinking around signatory management – by account and by entity – often saw information variously stored on different databases and unrelated spreadsheets.
The employment of a new treasurer, for example, required contact with service advisors across every country and region, often necessitating the provision of different supporting documentation. Every subsequent change to a signatory demanded a repeat performance. In short, signatory management has often been viewed by companies as both an administrative and a control challenge (the implications for security and fraud management alone are huge).
The new way, using the CashPro Assistant authority management tool, places the individual at the centre of the process. In being able to view in one place each authorisation profile across all entities and accounts, it gives the client control to modify or delete any existing profile quickly and efficiently, explains Boussuge. Indeed, clients can now set up, review and action authorisations at any time, with reports easily created at a company or single profile level, as and when required.
BofA says it marks the evolution of simple signatory management into holistic authority management. It certainly means that, as part of the wider system, with its audit trails and workflow capabilities, CashPro Assistant can, for example, allow clients to manage escalation of action to the required level of authorisation, and even provide specific bank personnel contact details for direct issue management. This has real practical value.
“With new personnel, if you want them to be responsible for the same set of accounts as the person they replaced, that can all be set up online,” explains Durkin. “They could even self-onboard, in terms of securely sending all the required documentation for KYC. They could digitally sign using DocuSign, and then quickly be set up with the approved level of authorisation for accounts the client holds with Bank of America.”
Contact management, too, is positively impacted. Durkin notes that many companies still maintain contact data across all their banks, on spreadsheets. If, for example, the bank receives an ACH file from a client that is subsequently rejected or fails for some reason, the ACH team will need to contact the client. To do so, it will use the information on file.
Although this is information provided when the service is first set up, the challenge of updating through traditional channels often means the details remain unchanged. If that information is not current, it could seriously impact the bank’s ability to repair that file. For an urgent payment, this could become a major issue. The ease with which the new tool allows contacts authorisations to be updated helps ensure that such issues are not encountered.
It all starts with CashPro
The new service dashboard and authority management tools complement the wider CashPro suite of products that includes Online Banking, Mobile, the CashPro Connect client access channel. As of January 2018, it has also been delivering APIs (which, as the bank continues its work with ERP and TMS vendors on integration, is driving uptake in the adoption of CashPro Connect).
CashPro Assistant commenced with transaction research and investigation, offering clients a set of analytics tools. This afforded anyone wanting customised reporting and enhanced cash flow management far greater visibility into all of their accounts and balances, even across third-party bank accounts.
CashPro Assistant users were then offered an enhanced experience around push alerts, enabling them to set up email or text warnings guided by their own parameters. Further progress saw the inclusion of e-signature capabilities across different devices, provided via DocuSign in CashPro’s secure document storage and exchange facility.
As might be expected where ground-breaking developments are delivered, Durkin says BofA is committed to offering user support and education. This includes demonstration videos, training activities and other resources, to help users get the most out of the CashPro platform. Clients also have the option to connect via live chat with the fulfilment and service teams led by Boussuge.
Leave no stone unturned
Of course, investing in CashPro Assistant is about allowing clients to take control online as a key part of their BofA services experience. The innovative thinking that delivers this goal is not something that is left to the chosen few: it can, and does, manifest right across the bank. BofA has a procedure it calls ‘Speak Up’. This allows anyone with an idea to submit it for closer scrutiny by the relevant expert team.
Through client engagement, employees with day-to-day customer contact often have the greatest insights into what those clients want and need. All ideas are taken onboard and examined in the light of known customer expectations.
Being inspired by real-world client challenges is an essential part of the process. Having the ability to ‘test and learn allows BofA to take on an idea and pursue it to its natural conclusion in the most efficient manner, says Durkin. This can lead to engagement with the fintech community, at both a collaborative and an investment level.
What steers this engagement is the well-developed understanding of client pain points, drawn from BofA’s strong customer contact and tools such as ‘Speak Up’. This has shone the spotlight on a clear primary target expressed by most clients, says Durkin. “Organisations are telling us directly – and through segment-specific CashPro Advisory Boards and validated third-party industry benchmarks – that ease of doing business and responsiveness to service requests are key drivers for client satisfaction.” These advisory boards, he adds, necessarily represent segments drawn from across business banking, commercial banking, financial institutions and large corporates.
BofA infers an ‘innovation mandate’ from these conversations, underpinning its whole client-centric philosophy. It’s able to understand that innovation can strike at many different angles and that this may mean working at the cutting edge of technology, developing products and solutions that are entirely new, but may equally mean exploring and leveraging its own existing functionality within the wider CashPro platform. Generating efficiencies from these can ultimately help clients do the business they want to do, how they want to do it, notes Durkin. “If you put a collective package together that makes business easier, more nimble and offers fast service – then you have banking solutions that can be truly transformational in today’s environment,” he explains.
This is why BofA’s Treasury Fulfilment Service Operations (TFSO) team is dedicated to providing onboarding and service to its treasury clients across the globe. It is, he says “in the business of making the client experience fast, simple and secure – every step of the way – from onboarding, to every day service needs”.
The ongoing technical design process within CashPro calls upon ‘user interface’ and ‘user experience’ (UI/UX) experts to ensure the coherence of the whole package. This expertise is only useful when guided by strong client feedback. Collected by BofA in conjunction with its service partners and directly with clients, the process is sustained across the life of the product, enabling the technology to reflect the dynamism of client needs and the market environment
But banks have not necessarily been known for adopting a human-centred design approach, notes Boussuge. Indeed, she acknowledges that the ‘Field of Dreams’ build-it-and-they-will-come model has long been the industry preference. The way CashPro Assistant, and the new service dashboard and authority management tools in particular, have been delivered appear to mark a new chapter in banking solution design.
Rather than fixating on the UI and just delivering a glossy front-end, working with clients on the full end-to-end proposition through an interactive feedback loop has enabled the bank to completely eliminate friction points in both bank onboarding and authorisation management.
With traditional processing models requiring considerable manual input into multiple systems, physical documents and wet signatures, these practices would not be possible in the current environment. “In re-building the end-to-end process, our guiding principles were the digitisation and automation of the client experience, delivering transparency and giving users more power,” comments Boussuge. “These principles have effectively seen each process being completely re-mapped; we are finally putting an end to re-keying and hand-offs.”
BofA’s CashPro Assistant is a solution built around real-world client needs, placing the individual, not the account or entity, at the centre of a fully digital chain of events, says Boussuge. What elevates it above the norm is the fact that it takes a holistic approach to meeting these needs. Functionality that sits in, and is accessed from, one place, corresponds with “how clients really work”, not how banks would like or believe their clients to work.
Whether on-boarding or managing account authorisations, the new CashPro Assistant now promises a fast, simple, secure and transparent experience for users when exchanging documents and communicating with the bank.
Full platform pilots are currently under way across EMEA. The onboarding experience will be phased in for all clients in EMEA throughout 2020. Additional phases will then be rolled out across other regions. The authority management piece will be phased in across EMEA and the US in 2020.