Designing for the financial space

4 min read
Tara Malone
  •  Jul 17, 2018
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Designers in the financial world are challenged to create a first-rate customer experience while complying with many different regulations. InVision’s VP of Design Education Aarron Walter recently sat down for a fireside chat with Jesse Lewis and Morgane Peng to discuss their experiences designing for the financial space.

Jesse is Global Head of UX and UI Design at HSBC, and Morgane is Director of User Experience and Design at Societe Generale. In the discussion, Jesse and Morgane provided valuable insights on designing for a highly regulated industry. What follows are our favorite takeaways from the chat.

Image from Inside Design: Capital One.
Capital One designs with a human-centered design culture focused on improving people’s relationship with money.

How can we balance customer experience with rule compliance?

Designers in the financial space need to find a balance between creating a positive customer experience and complying with industry rules. While there is a great deal of regulation, Jesse and Morgane don’t believe that it negatively impacts a design team’s ability to provide a quality user experience. In some ways, the regulations help the teams to develop “seamless solutions.” The teams often need to engage in discussion and experimentation as they discover new ways to engage the customer.

Related: Download 36 icons perfect for finance design—for free!

Jesse feels that while the regulations can present challenges, they don’t “cause alarm.” In fact, they can help to promote design innovation. As he explained, “the creative processes are quite compelling. No one has yet designed the rules for how to design a banking experience. It hasn’t polarized around one solution yet despite all the regulations in play.”

There are many different ways designers can implement a positive banking experience for the consumer despite the regulations.

“Regulations exist to protect the customer, so as designers, we can only be happy about it.”

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What are some ways banks can embrace the constraints and connect with their customers in an increasingly regulated industry?

One of the challenges that banks face as the financial industry becomes increasingly regulated is staying connected to their customers. Morgane and Jesse felt that banking regulations don’t necessarily make it more difficult to connect with customers. They can even help a bank’s design team to keep the customers in mind. According to Morgane, “regulations are there to protect the customer so as designers we can only be happy about it because it makes us customer-centric.”

Jesse agreed, saying that while the number of regulations can seem overwhelming at first, his team, like Morgane’s, understand “that it’s for the customers’ benefit.” Both of their design teams are highly motivated to create an excellent user experience and the regulations aren’t necessarily a constraint.

Instead, they can be used to prompt new and creative ways of thinking about the consumer’s experience. Jesse explained, “We can innovate despite externally perceived constraintsTwitter Logo and still deliver opportunities and exciting customer experiences to mark it.”

Image from Inside Design: Wealthfront.
Wealthfront’s design team uses design to help drive good financial habits among their users.

How to stay attentive to consumers’ needs

Keeping the customers in mind and being aware of their needs is essential for design teams. Gathering data about features and services is a key way that design teams can learn more about what their customers want.

Jesse outlined HSBC’s process as follows: “Currently it’s taking that data, asking ourselves questions about it, creating some designs, and then going out and validating them with either panels or groups of customers via testing. We also engage in research to make sure that we are soliciting and obtaining the right data that can add value to our design program.”

“The awareness of protecting that data is one of the areas where finance will be ahead.”

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Jesse and Morgane also discussed the challenges of understanding the customers’ needs while keeping their data secure. They agreed that the financial world strongly emphasizes regulations with the purpose of protecting customer data.

As Morgane explained, “The awareness of protecting that data is one of the areas where finance will be ahead.” When the design teams work with user data, they do everything necessary to comply with regulations and to make sure they have consent from customers to access the data.

Jesse said that examining the data provides a “whole other opportunity with customers—to have a conversation with them, and engage with them.”

Related: Capital One—Cashing in on human-centered design to improve financial interactions

How to compete with new startup banks

When a new startup bank comes on the scene, it provides opportunities for established banks to reflect on the effectiveness of their own services. Jesse described the situation as akin to having your neighbors build an extension on their house, which prompts you to build your own extension: “A precedent has been set by your neighbor, and these startups, these banks do that for us.”

Jesse finds that startups often have compelling ideas, which prompts HSBC to look closely at their own services and to improve them to provide greater value for their customers. In this way, new startup banks inspire innovation.

Though the financial industry is extremely regulated, Morgane and Jesse have found that rule compliance actually fosters innovation and creativity among designers. Morgane explained that “financial information is so critical and there are so many things that have to be regulated. It’s a process we’ve worked with since the beginning.”

Ultimately, it’s essential for designers to understand why these regulations are in place and to be willing to engage in creative thinking to design the best experience for their customers.

Check out the full recording to learn more about the unique challenges of designing for the financial space.

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