Most financial forms today are fillable PDFs

Nothing wrong with fillable PDFs.  They work and serve a purpose well.  But have you tried to fill one out using a phone?  That’s practically impossible.  Even if you receive the fillable PDF in your email, you have to open the email on your laptop (not your phone), download the fillable PDF, fill it out using Acrobat, save it to your hard drive, and then email it back as an attachment. If you know how to use Acrobat’s e-signature feature, then you can use that.  If not, you would then print the PDF, sign it, take a picture of it, and then attach to an email.

Clearly it works, but not exactly a smooth process.


Docusign and similar tools have improved the signing process dramatically, but not the “filling out” process

E-signature tools like Docusign, Hello Sign, and others were designed to improve the signature capture process, You can fill out small amounts of information in those tools, like for example names and address, but they’re not intended for filling out forms requiring a lot of information, like personal financial statements.  And even if you were able to use an e-signature too for filling out a form, they are not mobile-friendly.  You have to pinch and zoom to view details within the PDF.  It’s not practical.

So most financial institutions, for these reasons and privacy/security reasons, revert back to having their customers fill out fillable PDFs, usually in conjunction with an encrypted upload process for them to upload their completed forms.

There are better approaches to this problem.  One concept is to use XForms for financial forms, as described below.

Can you use XForms to create mobile-friendly financial forms, like the SBA’s personal financial statement?

The short answer is yes.  This is possible because of XForms’ table control, where you can build table grids that include columns containing numbers, calculated values, and SUM values totalling all the values in a column.  Here’s a short video of XForm’s Designer tool in action, building out a version of the SBA’s Personal Financial Statement (PFS) form template:

What about calculated values?

Yup.  Not a problem.  You can create fields with complex mathematical expressions.  Things like this formula: {velocity}*3.14159*(({diam}/12/2)*({diam}/12/2))*60/({temp}+460)*520. Clearly, financial forms don’t need these sorts of complex formulas, but they are possible.

Calculated numeric fields can be embedded directly on a form, and even as a column in a table.  In the case of a personal financial statement, there’s not much math in that type of form template.  Just SUM values at the bottom of tables, and simple additional and subtraction.  Here’s a screenshot of the Net Worth calculation, which takes the SUM values from the Assets table and subtracts the SUM value from the Liabilities table.


Can these forms be signed?

Yes.  Just add a signature field to the template. When a new user fills out the form, they will encounter the signature field and can sign it using their finger (on a phone, on a tablet, on a touchscreen), or mouse/trackpad (on a laptop, on a desktop).  Here’s a video clip of the signature field being signed on an iPhone.

Once submitted, can the forms be edited?

By default, yes.  But you can also set the template to lock a form once submitted.  There’s also a form history feature in the system that acts like an audit trail.   this form history feature will show you a PDF of the submitted form as it existed at the time it was submitted.  If it is ever edited, a new version of the PDF is generated, with metadata as to who edited it and when.

Or deleted?

And even if someone with enough user permissions deletes the submitted form, you can just flip the “show deleted forms” switch to on, click on the form history icon, and see who deleted it.  The screenshot below illustrates this feature.


What does the PDF of a submitted form look like?

It can look any way you wish it to look.  Fully customizeable. Take a look at this prototype format we built for a prospective customer.

What else can you do with this?

In a word: aggregations.  Also known as groupings.  A simple way to aggregate your forms is to group them by client, or by state/location, or by zip code, or by net worth.  These are mostly ways of viewing your customer data from a big picture point of view, with a very simplay way to drill down and view the details of a particular submittal.  Take a look at the screenshot below.

We think that XForms can be used to improve financial forms, particularly in today’s mobile-first world.  Want to chat about this with us?  Click/tap the button below.