Eliminate Friction in Financial Services with Remote Online Notarization

Over the past several years, financial and wealth services firms and insurance companies have undergone major transformations—investing significantly in digital capabilities and accelerating their push toward paperless operations. The pandemic was undoubtedly a catalyst for these efforts, but even as society returns to normalcy, it's just as crucial for firms in these industries to maintain momentum. 

For one, the bar for great consumer experiences keeps rising. Today’s consumer is comfortable transacting digitally with their providers of choice, and they expect their financial providers to keep up with this trend. According to recent research by the Bank Administration Institute, consumers expect 61 percent of their banking activities to be digital by 2024, while branch usage has declined by 35 percent between 2015 and 2020.

COVID accelerated digital transformation

The pandemic has also accelerated workplace transformation, and the financial services and insurance industries have not been immune. Over 70 percent of respondents to a Deloitte survey believe their business will operate in a hybrid fashion in 2022 and beyond. In the absence of in-person collaboration, companies need to think about how technology can support their teams in delivering services remotely.

Lastly, financial and wealth services firms and insurance companies are increasingly under pressure to reign in costs. Paper is a significant expense, especially when accounting for hard costs like mailing, printing and storage, and the time invested in navigating manual and paper-based processes.

At Docusign, we've seen these three factors drive banks, insurance companies and wealth services firms to e-signature to streamline workflows and remove paper from the process. Everything from account opening forms, insurance policy applications, client onboarding documents and loan applications have been digitized—improving customer experience and helping firms stand out among competitors.

But notarization has traditionally been a last-mile challenge preventing financial services firms from achieving a truly paperless vision. According to a recent Docusign survey, professionals in the financial services and insurance sectors cited process inefficiency as one of the biggest challenges with paper-based notarizations. Whether it’s the need to have documents re-signed because of missing fields or errors, or difficulties with verifying signer identity, the manual nature of the legacy process has proven to be one of the most frustrating pain points.

For many years it was tough to challenge the status quo. But the emergence of remote online notarization (RON)—using audio-visual technology with e-signature technology to perform a notarial act entirely online—is revolutionizing the experience. In fact, since COVID, numerous states across the country have begun adopting RON legislation, opening up opportunities for companies to conduct notarizations differently.

RON supports efficient banking and lending

Many banking, wealth services and insurance firms are adopting Docusign Notary, a RON solution that streamlines notary processes and improves customer and employee experience.

RON can make a big difference in two key areas within the banking and lending world. One is secured lending, which includes auto lending, home equity loans and residential mortgages. Bankers often must handle various customer forms—including loan documents, powers of attorney, deeds and more—that are essential to loan closing. The power of Notary is in empowering financial institutions to close these loans faster, which improves the borrower experience and allows lenders to realize interest revenue more quickly.

For example, M&T Bank was already using Docusign eSignature when the firm expanded to offer Docusign Notary as an additional level of convenience.

“It really felt like a natural evolution and a great way to give the customers a consistent notarizing and signing experience,” says Sandra Bell, VP, enterprise transformation office at M&T Bank. “We also liked the fact that it combined a multifactor authentication method, using both identity verification as well as KBA [knowledge-based authentication] into one seamless experience for our customers. We wanted our verification to be rigorous and compliant, but we didn't want to compromise the customer experience. Lastly, the name recognition of Docusign gave our customers trust in the solution.”

Solarity Credit Union uses Docusign Notary to help streamline and improve its mortgage lending processes, incorporating the service into its Docusign Rooms for Mortgage workflow.

“We looked at our traditional [mortgage lending] model for ways to disrupt the mortgage ways of old,” says James Wise, senior lending program manager at Solarity. “We’ve tried to perfect the member experience and we were very comfortable moving into the remote online notary space without changing our process flow. It is just a tool to create efficiencies and expedite [our paperless processes].”

Solarity is targeting closing at least 60 percent of its mortgages using Docusign Notary in 2022, with the eventual goal of reaching 100 percent RON compliance.

Branch services is another area where Notary can play a critical role. Local bank and credit union branches are fixtures in the local communities they serve and a place where customers and members often come in to get their documents notarized. However, many branches temporarily shut their doors during the pandemic, and financial institutions struggled to meet their customers’ in-person notary needs. Even as these branches have reopened, many have suffered from staffing shortages, and consumers today are increasingly seeking out digital convenience as an option wherever they can find it. For this reason, adding a remote service option for walk-in notarization needs like permits, liens and other common documents represents true value for consumers.

Wealth and insurance firms gain efficiencies with RON

Within wealth services, advisors and planners often notarize documents for their clients as part of the quarterly meetings hosted at the client's home or in their office. The pandemic precipitated a significant trend of in-person meetings being replaced by virtual meetings. And a recent study by McKinsey showed more than 70 percent of investors are looking to engage remotely and digitally with their advisors across the lifecycle. RON is an excellent way for wealth management professionals to meet their clients wherever they are and provide a high-quality, virtual experience during these moments that matter.

Lastly, insurance carriers are investing in modernizing their claims operations, and Notary can play a vital role in this transformation story. One common example is total-loss auto claims, which often require a power of attorney document to kickstart salvage processes. And when claims are disputed, RON can help teams execute important documents and close legal matters more quickly, resulting in a better claimant experience and higher customer satisfaction.

During the early stages of the pandemic, one group protection provider found it challenging to obtain notarization on important legal and claims documents within the required timeframes. Through Docusign Notary, they’ve saved time while reducing the expense of overnight courier services.

The group protection provider benefitted by transforming a historically time-consuming, in-person process into a convenient, quick remote experience. And the electronic journal feature means they no longer have to write down all of the details of the transaction; Notary gathers all that information and stores it digitally.

To learn more about how RON is transforming notary for a variety of financial services organizations, watch “Eliminate Friction in Banking and Insurance with Docusign Notary,” and “Your Partner on the Journey to Providing a Fully Digital Mortgage Experience,” both now available on demand. Also, check out our latest blog answering five common questions about RON.

Register for Momentum 2022 On Demand with the link below here: Watch now.

Manas Baba
Financial Services Industry Expert