Using UX Design to Build Client Relationships

A great user experience reduces attrition, while increasing client loyalty and share of wallet. Meaning it’s important to get it right. Moderated by Amelia Young, this expert panel features Adam Hulnick, Andrew Turnbull, Brett Calzada and Eric Lennert. The discussion looked beyond theory to provide practical takeaways you can implement in your business.

Your clients’ mental model

The problem many brokers face is today’s investor has a high expectations. They enter your platform with a “mental model” of how things should work and expect it to function flawlessly every time. To increase the difficulty, these expectations differs from user to user. Those trying to manage their management expense ration will have very different needs than active traders.

Cultivating trust

The financial services industry has no shortage of tools, but trust comes from giving people the right tool for the right job. For example, an investor who uses their broker’s site to rebalance their individual retirement account (IRA) every quarter doesn’t need a real-time stock screener.

Effective UX should be personalized. Rather than giving investors a junk drawer full of tools and letting them figure out what they need, show them that you know why they’re coming to you. Provide them with only the tools they need and suggest how to best use them so they can accomplish what they need efficiently. Done properly, you’re no longer just building trust; you’re saving them valuable time.

Investors have come to expect this level of service. They know their brokers have plenty of data on them, but they want that data used in a way that benefits them. They don’t want to be treated like every other client.

Crossing the line

While personalization is important, it must be managed appropriately. Clients understand their broker knows personal information about them based on the content they are provided, but often underestimate how much is publicly available. For example, a broker could easily discover a client’s divorce or new child through Facebook. Although it allows brokers to offer customized solutions, clients become uncomfortable when you use information they don’t know you have. This discomfort grows when their information is used to sell them something rather than to help them.

Another concern is privacy within a client’s personal environment. For example, brokers should be careful when personalizing a client’s home screen, because the client might not be the only person who can see that home screen. Be aware of the level of sensitivity of the information you’re leveraging, and weigh that against the benefits of personalization.

Implementation challenges

Finding user experience experts with strong financial backgrounds can pose a significant challenge. UX is a competitive field and the financial industry is at a disadvantage; there are regulations dictating what can and can’t be done, and finance isn’t perceived as ‘exciting’.

Brokerage firms may need to get creative about how they harvest their design talent. Consider recruiting from other industries. The key is to find individuals with great ideas and UX experience, as well as those who can deliver on client expectations. Finding this combination, means you may need to train on the brokerage side of things.

Another challenge facing the industry is technology. Firms are moving toward application program interfaces (APIs) with a service layer, which is critical to good UX design. However, many are also trying to develop these with legacy technologies, which simply isn’t working.

To succeed, brokerage firms must separate their user-interface layer from the legacy systems that provide their actual brokerage services. Otherwise, a firm could have the greatest ideas, but won’t be able to execute on them.

A View from Recognia ~ Capitalizing on Micro-Moments

As we lead the transformation of online brokerage user experiences, we often focus on big picture concepts like personalization and mobile. That's a great starting point but the details matter. The best user experiences will leverage each micro-moment as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship with the client. With open observation and empathy for users, we can discover those moments which are our opportunities. At Recognia, we are helping our clients with transformation by opening up our kit of insightful investing analytics, and placing them in the investor's path in the moment it might be useful to them. Traditional site map organization is still widespread and expected, where online broker websites have distinct sections for accounts, for education, and for research on stocks, ETFs and options. But now we are being deliberate to curate relevant content to the investor as they might need it, rather than teaching them about the site map and asking them to navigate it. Ask us about the following three initiatives and others we have on the go.

Proactively notifying investors when there are significant changes in the overall technical or fundamental picture for stocks they ownOffering trading tactics with options as the investor goes to place an order, to help them reduce net cost or control riskGiving a top-down view of sector and market analysis alongside the stock search as a helpful insight in the moment of decision making

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