With the new ISA season upon us, and the annual barrage of mass marketing from an ever-growing number of WealthTech firms, we’re steering our attention towards wealth management for part three of our UX series.
WealthTech has experienced a huge surge over the past 5+ years, with 2021 seeing a 156% YOY increase in global VC investment. Yet when it comes to innovation and user experiences, the industry as a whole continues to fall short of other FS segments. For example, for plenty of wealth management firms, paper-based onboarding experiences still remain the norm. While legacy processes have been tolerated as industry standard by a typically more mature clientele (circa 70% of household wealth in the UK is held by those over 50), the target persona will change in years to come, and the industry must be ready. In fact, the looming‘Great Wealth Transfer’ is expected to see £5.5 trillion transferred to younger generations in the next thirty years, with £327 billion set to land in the hands of millennials in the next decade. As the demographic changes, so too will consumer expectation. Demands for digital, hyper-personalised and seamless experiences have grown exponentially. So, which players are ready, and which are not for the next generation?
Before we jump in, let’s first recap: what do ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ really mean?
- The good: I’d tell my friends all about it and really advocate for it
- The bad: It’s just OK, but has the potential to be so much better
- The ugly: It works, but the experience is poor and it’s a turn-off to continue engaging or revisit
Of course, we need to bring some objectivity to our assessments, so what criteria are we using this month?
- Ease of use
- Aesthetics – i.e. is it visually appealing?
Good – Ellevest
In recent years, the USA’s wealth management market has been a frontrunner in providing digitally-enabled and user-centric experiences – surprising when comparing the maturity of their digital banking solutions with Europe’s challengers.
The clear winner for this month’s crown is ElleVest. They’re on a mission to close the gender-based wealth gaps, assisting women in reaching financial milestones through goals-based investing. Taking on Wall Street, their proposition boasts ‘hybrid’ advice offerings, coupling robo-advice and money coaching services for the everyday investor with private wealth advisory services for the high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs).
- Ease of use: It’s 2022. Digital onboarding journeys are now considered hygiene across financial services and beyond – you won’t wow customers with a simple, mobile-first journey alone. Conversational and unconventional, Ellevest’s onboarding flow is truly differentiated. It offers a slick experience while collecting the rich pools of data required to onboard a customer. Relevant integrations, like Plaid, which enable instant connection to bank accounts via a simple account management UI, make it obvious why Ellevest has been successful in a hugely competitive market.
- Personalisation: Personalisation is at the core of ElleVest. While the company predominantly targets women, anyone can use their services. Their offering truly harnesses the value of data to provide ultra-bespoke suggestions, recommendations and forecasting visualisations – all customisable based on individually inputted goals. So, investment recommendations don’t simply respond to risk appetite or hypothetical desired returns, but specific objectives and a whole host of life events not accommodated by traditional wealth management platforms, or indeed the majority of UK WealthTech “trailblazers”.
- Aesthetics of user interface (UI): Traditionally, wealth management propositions haven’t needed to look ‘good’. After all, what you pay for is the experience and expertise of your adviser. But, as the wealth management landscape turns increasingly digital and seeks a new demographic of HNWIs (e.g. women, millennial), its appearance has no longer been left by the wayside. The UI is clean, using a distinctive yet warm colour scheme and stylish fonts, providing comfort and accessibility to the less confident investor.
Bad – Moneybox
As a result of the streamlined experiences provided by frontrunners like ElleVest, the bad experiences really stand out. As noted, the US are leading the game, meaning many British firms are falling into the “bad” category, even though they do perform well in their home market. We’re not just talking about looks either – fundamental, often industry-wide, regulatory-driven flaws exist in the propositions themselves (attempt to transfer an ISA at your own peril…), indicating an overall industry in need of serious change.
Moneybox’s claim to fame is their ‘round-ups’ offering, where they connect to customer bank accounts and collate all card purchases and invest the difference. The target customer is those new to investing, with the firm claiming “to make saving and investing simple.” Although an admirable enough goal, a poor UX means it is anything but.
- Ease of use: Although the onboarding experience for Moneybox products is relatively smooth, the usability of Moneybox app for returning customers does not meet the same standard. Emphasis is on improving the financial literacy of its customers, and as a result the app is filled with articles, educational resources and investment guides. These elements themselves are easy to access, but often obstruct and obscure the ability to complete other actions (such as managing your investments).
- Aesthetics of user interface (UI): Once you’ve made it onto the landing page, confusion abounds. Customers are confronted with a bunch of calls to action: view your total investment amount, add more money, edit your amount saved – the list goes on. Moneybox have clearly forgotten the core reason as to why a customer might access their app: to view investment performance. A summary of this is nowhere to be found on the home screen.
- Personalisation: Once the customer has made it to their account breakdown, frustrations continue. Although you can see investment performance, the message is still confusing. Competitors such as Wealthify and Nutmeg are stronger here, personalising their offerings by enabling users to choose their risk appetite and product elements like ESG preferences, using clean, interactive visuals that bring performance to life. Interactive wealth calculators – charts that grow as sliders are moved left to right – all make for a bespoke experience and highlight the potential of investments. And in doing so, they encourage customers to invest more – surely a no-brainer addition. Although Moneybox claims to be making investing more accessible, their experience doesn’t compare. In over-simplifying their offering, they do their customers a disservice – even a first-time investor wants to see future projections.
Ugly – Nest
The U.K. government-backed pensions scheme, Nest, is fundamentally lacking behind the rest. Although founded to drive the inclusion and accessibility of wealth to UK citizens, it hosts a limited offering for maintaining and growing a wealth portfolio, proving it’s the “ugly” of the wealth management space.
- Ease of use: Instinctive digital onboarding journeys, mobile applications & biometrically verified security are just some examples of what are now considered hygiene factors when it comes leading experiences. However, Nest doesn’t even offer a basic mobile application. This missing journey – handheld and accessible-anywhere – forces all users to open up a web browser and attempt to navigate their portfolio with a mouse and keyboard or fumble around as their device struggles to render the pages. This archaic approach is inhibiting Nest’s chances of competing with even basic user experiences – a key factor in creating “stickiness” and essential to compete with market leaders.
- Aesthetics of user interface (UI): Unlike Moneybox, Nest’s landing page provides very little: an investment summary and the contribution origins. While this may be a useful statistic to see, Nest ceases to take advantage of the remaining space. Showing contribution analytics or a wealth calculator, for example, could result in better engagement and help educate users, leading to increased profits in their investments – the primary objective of the platform.
- Personalisation: The core objective of a wealth manager is to provide the user with a platform that meets their needs i.e. visibility of performance and future projections. Yet, Nest’s platform offers none of the basic functionalities required to achieve this, leaving the user questioning their investment performance, if they should be diversifying or if they should increase or decrease investments. Every user journey in the Nest platform is unclear, cluttered and overly confusing for users, regardless of financial literacy or investment experience.
Our two cents…
The wealth management industry, typically a biased industry targeting a very specific demographic, is undoubtedly well into an era of major disruption. As target demographics for wealth management propositions change in the UK and globally, the winners will not only have great product terms, but they’ll create experiences akin to what we now expect in the rest of the FS ecosystem – hyper personalisation, sharp UIs and easy-to-use experiences will win over the next generation. We recognise that not all challenges can be fixed by a single provider – take the much-bemoaned ISA transfer as an example. This requires central, regulatory backed, change initiatives. And that’s a good thing; it creates competition and pushes providers to deliver the best experience. Maybe that’s what the UK needs if it is going to compete with US rivals?
Connect with our team if you want to supercharge your user’s experience.