According to Gartner, the No. 1 area of technology investments being made by financial services companies these last several years is improving firms’ ability to more quickly and seamlessly onboard new clients.

Particularly as the new crop of robo-advisors has raised the bar for client experience, the urgency to address this issue is increasing.

(Related: 4 Ways Robo-Advisors Improve Client Onboarding)

A perennial problem area, opening new accounts has remained a slow, cumbersome and complex process for advisors. Exacerbated by historical paper-based processes that the industry has yet to solve, due mainly to compliance requirements, constant regulatory change, slow adoption of digital signatures and the problem of integrating multiple systems to get the data to complete the many different varieties of forms that each custodian, fund company and financial institution requires to process new business.

In fact, some firms are reporting that it can take up to 90 days to establish a new relationship with a client. But that is all about to change.

At the recently held Laser App Financial Services conference in San Francisco, new technology innovations launched by Laser App and its many integration partners promise to make solid progress in solving this issue.

Laser App is a leader in the forms business, boasting a technology library of over 33,000 custodian, broker-dealer, fund company and insurance forms and applications from 700 of the industry’s largest institutions — the core digital documents and information needed to process business by over 100,000 advisors on a daily basis.

Laser App plays a big role in the new account opening process as the industry’s largest forms repository, the place advisors and their staffs log into every day when a new client is onboarded and when existing clients expand their relationship with their advisor by opening additional accounts, or transferring cash and securities.

Led by Ed Beggs, CEO of Laser App, his team has been busy enhancing the Laser App platform to solve the new account problem. Top of the list of new products announced at the conference and a potential industry game changer is Laser App Propel, a new account opening application that is a “formless form,” meaning that Laser App can pull client information from an advisor’s CRM and pass it directly to custodians to initiate a new account via a workflow process automation system and not need to fill out an existing application. 

(Related: Envestnet | Tamarac Adds Single-Sign-On for TD Ameritrade Institutional Users)

“The fastest way to open new accounts is to pass data directly to the custodian from our over 100 CRM and third-party technology system integrations,” noted Robert Powell, Laser App vice president, in his keynote address. “By also integrating electronic signatures into the Propel workflow engine, advisors can literally open the account in less than a minute through one screen.”

This approach of using workflow automation platforms is gaining traction not only from the forms platforms, but also from document management systems. At the conference, document management leader Laserfiche demo’d their “Forms Magic” platform, which includes integrations with CRM systems, forms-filling platforms and digital signatures to automatically extract data from the CRM, pre-populate forms and push them out to digital signature platforms. The platform then packages all of the documents for archival and future retrieval.

Other new product announcements from Laser App announced at the conference was Laser App Fusion, a new way for advisors to embed Laser App forms into their own website for client self-service, along with Laser App Accelerator, a streamlined way to customize Salesforce to open new accounts without hiring expensive developers.

Rounding out the product development roadmap were over 60 new enhancements to the existing Laser App Enterprise desktop and Laser App Anywhere web-based platforms.

The Laser App conference also included a series of technology demonstrations from top partners integrated with Laser App, including Laserfiche, Advizr Redtail, Advicent, Grendel, MoneyGuidePro, Riskalyze, Signix, Sycamore, Junxure, Orion, Albridge, Salesforce, Oranj, InsuranceNewsNet, BackNine Insurance, Envestnet Logix, Asset TV and Entreda.

(Related: Orion Integrates With Web Form Provider )

Top themes discussed and demo’d were the importance of automating as many back-office processes as possible so that advisors can continue to thrive as the market environment continues to become more competitive, complex and challenging.

The final mile for all of these technology enhancements, however, still rests with the custodians and their willingness to accept client data in this fashion. “Propel will be available broadly, depending on the custodians,” noted Powell.

To learn more about what went on at the 2017 Laser App Financial Services Conference, check out the many tweets on the #LaserApp2017 hashtag on Twitter.

Disclosure: Tim Welsh has consulted with some of the companies mentioned in this article.