Financial advice through a digital channel

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Lana Strategy Project Manager

5 Jul 2018  ·  5 min read

A project we worked on with Bank De Kremer is launched & ready for the spotlight! We walk you through our approach and focus on user testing.

Bank de Kremer, previously known as ABK Bank, brings together the expertise of two household names in Belgium’s financial landscape: Bank J.Van Breda & C° and Delen Private Bank. Together, they want to help people learn exactly what they have, and what they could have – allowing them to make smart financial choices.

Bank de Kremer positions itself as a trusted advisor, to offer clients an optimised experience and build long-term relationships.

Bringing online and offline closer together

The project started with Bank de Kremer’s ambition to build an intelligent and user-centered digital product – something that would give users an overview of their finances and support them in making choices based on that information.

Our research confirmed what their experience already suggested: the Belgian banking market is founded on a relationship of trust, often a long-term one. This meant that providing financial advice through a digital channel would not be easy. Still, we knew more and more users today turn to digital channels first when looking for information or an answer to their question!

Together with Bank de Kremer, we designed an application that brings the benefits of the offline relationship to the digital product. Rather than focusing on the transactional aspects, the app offers an advice & relationship-based experience.

Our process: thorough user testing

To achieve all this, we needed a well-defined approach. And we decided early in the process that a large portion of that approach should be full-scale user testing! In our opinion, it was crucial to involve the users as much as possible – it was the only way to make sure that the first impression of the application would immediately start building a strong basis of trust.

Starting from the strategic recommendations that we defined based on desk research and multiple co-creation sessions, we initiated a first iteration of our concept design. We then launched into 3 trajectories of dedicated usertesting, over a timespan of many months.

The first round of testing was focused on the concept. There were few reference cases we could look at for inspiration or past learnings, so we wanted to make sure that our first concept and feature set hit the right notes with the target audience!

After this first round, we iterated on the concept to create a prototype. This was the basis for the second round of testing. We knew finance can be a delicate subject for many people; to deliver the best results, we needed users to trust this app in the same way they trust a human financial advisor. In this round of testing, we probed user’s perception of the app’s clarity, trustworthiness and relevance.

We also went into more detail on the specific questions and features, weeding out any inconsistencies or potentially confusing steps or wordings.

Once we incorporated the feedback from this round, we ran a final round of testing, based on more long-term indicators of conversion and retention. We wanted to find out what it would take to activate users to become clients of Bank de Kremer, or to purchase certain financial products. And for retention, we looked into our users’ intrinsic motivations to use the app, and the frequency with which they would do so.

The final product

This iterative process of testing, fine-tuning, and testing again allowed us to create an optimised user experience – on a level that even the most diligent desk research couldn’t achieve.

For instance, one of our main findings was that our users were more interested in insight than they were in getting an overview. By asking users to enter details of their entire financial situation – which is often spread across multiple accounts, products and even banks – we could give them a comprehensive overview of their assets. But features that used the insights derived from this data, like calculating the impact of certain financial decisions on their retirement, were the most popular. The fact that we learned that users were most likely to turn to the app with a very specific question – rather than a more generalised sense of curiosity or wish to learn – further explained this result.

The user testing also supported our choice for a conversational approach in the UX design of the app. We knew that to deliver the insights users wanted, we first needed to collect a substantial amount of information; and each bit of information the user enters leads to a different path through the app. For instance, a user with no spouse or children, mostly liquid assets and an interest in high-risk investments will follow a completely different path through the app than a married couple with two children and several real estate properties.

By designing our interface to be conversational, rather than having the user fill out endless forms, we achieved several things at once:

  • We could chop up a long and complicated flow into small steps, that could be completed asynchronously – a user can take a break and come back later at any point. We also made sure to have some of those breaks built into the flow.
  • We gave ourselves room to explain certain questions to the user. On many screens, we’ve provided guidance and examples of why a certain bit of info is important, and where they might find it. We also embedded the option to skip a certain question and continue with the flow.
    This was another improvement inspired by the user testing: it had shown that people were likely to drop out of the flow when they were unsure about whether they entered the right information, or couldn’t immediately find it.
  • We could use a tone of voice that is more likely to inspire trust and confidence.

Today, we’re proud to see that this project, which was started under ABK Bank, supported the transition to Bank de Kremer flawlessly, and became its central selling point!

We’re very curious to see what people will think of the user experience, and, how Bank de Kremer can help them in achieving their future financial goals – both on- and offline!