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Advisory Connect Design and Research

Advisory Connect is an one-stop shop for financial advisors to open investment accounts and manage their clients. I’m the design lead in this project and I'm responsible for driving the product strategy as well as detailed design execution for most of the experience. I worked closely with 1 PM, 2 designers, multiple engineers and business stakeholders.
THE PROBLEM

The process of opening and managing investment accounts is too cumbersome, making it very hard for financial advisors to grow their business

By talking to the experts from the bank branches, we learned that in order to open an account, financial advisors had to complete a big number of documents in multiple systems and sometimes even on paper. What’s worse is that they had to fax some of the documents to the middle office to get approval. Because there are so many breakdowns in this process, financial advisors can’t take as many clients as they want.

To be more specific

1. Too many systems to jump between, to manage clients and their accounts
2. No digital solution for portfolio selection, price adjustment, and client information collection
THE process

Design with jobs-to-be-done in mind

We used Jobs to be Done framework to define what the users want to get done. These jobs are used across the product design and development phases.

Define the user journey

The user journey starts when a prospect meets a financial advisor in a branch. After the initial discovery, the financial advisor will determine the right product and start using the system to open an account.

The user journey map has been improved throughout the entire design  and user research process. Here is an example.

Plan for the UX validation

Once the initial mocks were created and socialized with the partner bank. We started planning for the UX validation, which includes role playing and user tests with financial advisors. I will talk about the user tests findings in a later section.
initial ux validation plan
user test scenario and task
THE solution

Allow financial advisors to manage existing
and open new accounts in one system

Because of the biggest pain points that financial advisors have is having to jump between different systems to get client and account information, we decided to offer a one-stop shop for their convenience.

Manage all clients at one place and identify who needs attention

The active clients listing page helps financial advisors review the status of their clients and be able to contact clients who need annual reviews.

View client’s accounts and take immediate actions

When financial advisors are calling their clients, they need to be able to view all accounts at once and take actions easily, for example, view transfers and raise cash.

Complete account
opening within 5 minutes

We want to make it easy for financial advisors to finish account opening in very short time, so that they can focus on building the client relationship and growing their business quickly.

Allow financial advisors set the price, select the portfolio, and fill in client information in one streamlined flow

Having all of these features at one place helps financial advisors focus on building client relationships instead of investing time on paperworks.

Change the risk tolerance when the client has a different need

Sometimes clients have specific needs that are not reflected on the result of the risk questionnaire, and their advisors will need to adjust the result for them. This capability helps advisors stay in control.

Give financial advisor the full control and allow them to introduce pricing whenever they need to

By talking to experts from banks, we learned that different advisors have different preferences about when to introduce pricing. So we just made the pricing bubble available throughout the flow.

No fax!
No fax!!
No fax!!!

One of the biggest pain point that advisors had is that they had to fax the documents to their middle office, which is time-consuming and always frustrating. We helped the bank consolidated all the required information and removed the duplicated ones, to simplify advisors’ workflow.

Validate the design approaches with financial advisors

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what i learned

1. Validate with end users as early as possible, instead of iterating on something that’s not impactful for too long.

Sometimes what the users really need is simply a Save button, which is easy for designers to add but also easy to be overlooked. Consider early user validating a time-saver.

2. Use user feedback to negotiate with engineers

We understand that sometimes something is so hard to implement and nobody wants to invest a lot of time in it without a strong reason. User feedback will be the strongest reason.

3. Don’t be afraid the change the user flow. But always re-evaluate the new experience

We should always optimize for the best experience that we can imagine. But remember that even one little change could impact the UX a lot and we should always zoom in and out to re-evaluate the new experience.

4. Don’t lower your standard just because it’s already better than the competitor

Always hold your standard and don’t change that based on what the competitors are doing. You should always be ready to defend for your decision.
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