June 2013: Online Applications for Existing Clients

Firms that offer existing client applications usually provide one of two forms – a specifically designed, truncated application or a pre-filled version of the standard application. Both versions help clients save time when applying for a new account. In this edition of Bank Monitor Report, we investigate which type of online application firms offer to existing clients, how these applications are accessed, and what funding and account options are provided during the application process. As we examine each banks’ online application for existing clients, we focus on the following issues:

  • Is a standalone, truncated application offered to existing clients, or are banks utilizing pre-filled standard applications for account holders?
  • Are clients linked directly from the private site to the application?
  • Are account holders given information on funding new accounts prior to final submission of an application?

Existing client applications enable users to sign up for a new account without all the hassle that is required of new users. A pre-filled version of the standard application is offered to existing clients by 12 firms, with the firm auto-populating many of the required fields from client information already on file. The remaining four firms in this report provide clients with a specially formatted, truncated application that typically omits sections related to identification and security confirmation. Only one of these four firms that offer a truncated application allows clients to edit pre-filled information. Pre-filled applications, on the other hand, generally allow applicants to edit at least some of the information provided, though three firms do not give clients the ability to edit any pre-filled information.

Regardless of the type of application provided to existing clients, the information and options within the actual application varies from firm to firm. Currently, 88% of firms covered in this report allow applicants to select at least one add-on account option within the application process itself. Among the account options offered, the ability to select a debit/ATM card for the account and the ability to sign up for overdraft protection are the most popular, with 10 firms offering these options. While the majority of firms allow clients to add account options, few allow users to set up initial funding prior to submitting the application. Over half of the firms covered in this report (56%) require users to submit an application before setting up an initial deposit. The remaining firms allow applicants to arrange funding during the application process by moving funds from an existing firm account into the new account. Another popular funding option, offered by six firms, is the ability to make an ACH external transfer.

Additional key findings include:

  • A landing page prior to the application is offered by 81% of firms.
  • A progress meter is made available throughout the application process by 14 firms.
  • Existing client applications from two firms are only accessible via the public site (login required).