There was no build vs. buy debate within the bank. "We felt there were solutions available that we should use," he says. The ultimate choices were Pegasystems for workflow, IBM for content management and Silanis for e-signatures.
"I always look for technology that's out there," McGuire says. "There are a lot of good industry players out there."
The implementation was reasonably smooth, he shares. "There wasn't the level of complexity with this initiative that I've had with others," he says. "We've been fortunate and made prudent decisions. We were able to insulate the impact on legacy solutions."
Like Chase, RBC takes a write once, support multiple devices approach using HTML5. "HTML5 is good, we have a lot of experience with it," McGuire says. "You do want to make sure the experience the customer has fits the device."
Wealth management salespeople now use a tablet or a laptop with an e-signature pad to sign customers up for new products.
In surveys, 63% of wealth management staff said the e-sign process saved time, though
36% experienced technical problems in the pilot. Compliance staff have reported that they're able to avoid certain checks that are taken care of automatically by the software.
Implementing the e-signature technology wasn't hard, McGuire says. "There's no rocket science, the heavy lifting is in looking at this end to end, and creating an efficient process," he says.
By the end of 2013, the bank will have e-signature software rolled out across its sales force and self-services channels for deposits and credit documents. "By the end of the year, we will have fundamentally changed our products across channels," McGuire says.
McGuire's advice to others is to start simple. "Don't make it more complicated than it is," he says. "Don't let lawyers design your user experience."
But although banks like Chase and Royal Bank of Canada have made the investment and are embarking on large e-sign projects, challenges remain for the adoption of electronic signatures. For documents with "downstream afterlife," such as mortgage documents for which the loan is sold to another bank or collateralized and sold to investors, disputes can arise. The original lender and borrower might have agreed on the intent to sign the document, but how will third parties down the road feel? "There's some ambiguity about that," LeClair says.
Another issue is the process architecture around electronic signing. Does the electronic signature software handle just the verification of the actual signing, or does it do more than that?
"You don't want to let a particular business unit come in with its own e-signature process and have another one build their own, with different vendors and different formats for electronic evidence," LeClair says. "You want to get the legal department to sanction a particular approach and build a technology stack that can act as a shared service to multiple business units." One e-signature technology could work with mortgages, car loans, demand deposit account opening and more.
Many banks are using outside business process management providers to build the electronic signature workflow technology that can be shared across business lines. "They're not building their own content management, not building their own process orchestration," LeClair says. "Most of them have investments in five to eight systems already and are trying to pick and consolidate."
Simple Documents Yes; Mortgages No
Paperless mortgages are still a ways off, according to David Whitaker, counsel at BuckleySandler and former counsel at Wells Fargo. "Ironically one of the original drivers behind UETA was the residential mortgage industry, they said we'd like to see with statutory certainty that we can take residential mortgages electronic," Whitaker recalls. "They were the driving force behind the drafting and adoption of UETA. There is no transaction more complex than a mortgage, nor one that involves more parties."