Why UX Matters

Espen Skogen
The goal of any "tool-designer" ought to be to produce a tool where the use of it is ‘obvious’ – It should offer an intuitive user experience, and make the user want to use the tool. User Experience Design is now an integral part of the workflow for client-facing​ software delivery, and it is increasingly becoming so for most internal applications. The giants of the internet, Facebook, Google, Netflix and Amazon, have pioneered the technology, and now is the time for Financial services to catch up. We have better technology now, and if you’re not already engaged in a User Experience led HTML5 development workflow, you should be.

Banking and financial services have developed into a digital business over the last 10 years. While the role of a sales team in an investment bank once was to sell financial instruments, its role now is increasingly selling the bank’s tools enabling the client to research, place orders, trade and settle. The bank has become a purveyor of financial tooling, and the salesforce sells these tools. Unfortunately, though, banks have often forgotten the client altogether when producing its tools. ‘E-commerce solutions are built for the banks – not their clients’ according to the report ‘Digital Investment Banking – Beyond Single Dealer Platforms’
by Greyspark1 . Non-intuitive software design, which does not centre on the User and his/her demands, leads to poor Return On Investment, and in the worst case, reputational and financial loss for the bank.

The buy-side selects the way they transact with sell-side counterparties based on a number of factors – Investor demand/ requirements and regulation controls the interaction first and foremost, and the sell-side is continuously adapting to meet those requirements. This background leads to increased competition and the necessity to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Most tier-1’s have responded to this, and have made a significant investment in all their channels, but none more so than the single dealer platform. The reason for this is two-fold - Firstly, clients trading on a single dealer platform rather than API or Multi-dealer platforms, are significantly more profitable for OTC transactions, and secondly, even if the trade is matched by a third party (some banks have chosen to surface a multi-dealer aggregation feature within their single dealer platform), the bank still retains the relationship with the client. The relationship extends beyond just the trading platform, and also includes research, analytics and other pre-trade features, as well as comprehensive post-trade platforms, and most banks go to great lengths to ensure their platform remains ‘sticky’.

It is for these reasons that banks who is building large single dealer platforms were amongst the early adopters of UX design- the ability to differentiate themselves through superior or innovative usability, design and features, is making a material difference in banks client retention strategies.

In parallel to the advent of the single dealer platforms’ UX revolution, another significant event occurred in the marketplace. The mobile apps became increasingly more sophisticated, starting with Apple’s launch of the iPhone in 2007, and it became apparent that user experience design was not only possible using commoditised web technologies – it was very effective. The influence of the App economy, while pervasive to the world outside of finance, is still routinely applied only to client-facing projects in financial services. This may be about to change though. Most major banks have a significant portfolio of legacy applications with user-interfaces using technologies such as Java Swing, WinForms, WPF, Adobe Flex, Silverlight and JavaFX. Many have been waiting for the right time to start the migration to modern web technologies, while others have been put off by

the lack of desktop support historically offered by JavaScript and HTML5. ‘When is the right time to move on this technology’ has been a question often heard in big banks. We believe by including User Experience Design as part of a re-platforming strategy, now is the right time, and done right, banks can not only achieve their re-platforming goals but also increase efficiency and reduce total cost of ownership.


“User experience” encompasses all aspects of the end user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products. Don Norman – VP - Advanced Technology Group, Apple Computers (Inventor of the term ‘User Experience.’)

It would be accurate to say that every product has a user experience; and that user experience can be deliberate or accidental. That is to say, user experience is something that simply is. It’s something we don’t directly control as practitioners. Human experiences are personalised; we don’t control it because the experience belongs to someone else.

To find out more read the white paper attached.