July 2013: Online Applications for New Clients

Though all 17 firms tracked by Bank Monitor offer an online application, the design and capabilities vary from firm to firm. In this edition of Bank Monitor Report, we investigate how these applications are accessed, how they are laid out, and what funding and account options are provided during the application process. We focused on the following criteria for each bank’s new client online application:

  • Can the application be accessed from multiple locations throughout the site?
  • Do firms use a single-page or multi-page application format?
  • Are applicants given funding information prior to final submission of an application?

All 17 firms examined provide links to the application from account overviews and individual product pages, with only 47% of banks also providing a link directly to the application from the homepage. The most common application design is a multi-step, multi-page application with a progress meter situated at the top to inform users of their status within the application process; this design style is offered by 16 firms. Only one firm offers a multi-step, single page application utilizing expanding sections; as the user completes one step and continues onto the next, the completed step collapses and the next step expands. This way, users are able to track their application process without being overwhelmed with all the information. All 17 firms allow applicants to open a single or joint account online, and 77% of firms allow users to apply for multiple accounts simultaneously. Of the 13 firms that allow users to open more than one account, five firms provide additional account recommendations for the applicant.

 

Regardless of the type of application provided to new applicants, the information and options within the actual application varies from firm to firm. Though every firm offers a landing page, not all of them provide users with a thorough understanding of what is to be expected in the application process. The best firms include a progress meter displaying the steps of the application on the landing page in addition to the application pages so that users are able to gauge how long the process may take. Additionally, 13 firms include a toll-free number on their applications to contact a customer service representative for application help. Ten firms take it a step further by also providing a live chat tool, allowing users to quickly connect to CSRs to address any application issues. A common weakness among firms in this report is the lack of funding options presented to prospective customers prior to application submission; with 11 firms requiring users to submit their application before making an initial deposit.

 


Additional key findings include:

  • 59% of firms offer Verification pages as the last step of the application.
  • Five firms allow new customers to arrange funding during the application process prior to submission.
  • Eight firms allow users to save partially completed applications to submit them at a later time.