Making retirement advice accessible and affordable to the masses by digitising the process.
The Standard Life Assurance Company was established in 1825, headquartered in Edinburgh. They commissioned us to help them develop a digital offering that solved a very pertinent problem in the space of financial advice.
In the UK there is an impending pension crisis. Not enough people have savings, investments or pensions that will see them through their retirement. In addition to this, getting financial advice is too expensive for most. Even if enough people could affford it, there also aren’t enough advisors to cover everyone. Add to this the fact that advisors aren’t incentivised to help people with low net worth and you get a perfect storm on the horizon.
Now, more than ever, accessible and affordable financial advice for retirement is an invaluable service to provide. We worked closely with Standard Life to solve this problem.
Months from Discovery to Pilot
Face to face user research sessions
End-to-end prototyping & testing
High fidelity design
Agile build support
1 x Copywriter
1 x Product Owner
2 x Service Designers
3 x Developers
1 x Data Scientist
2 x FS Subject Matter Experts
1 x Junior Product Designer
1 x Midweight Product Designer
Our initial challenge was to work with subject matter experts at Standard Life to understand the subject of financial advice, and how the industry works. Additionally, we spoke to many prospective customers to understand the mindsets of people approaching retirement age – their goals, aspirations and needs. This work enabled us to plot both the landscape of the industry as well as to take a user centered approach to solving the challenge.
We designed many different propositions and ways of articulating features in order to explore with users the way they perceived various aspects of a potential service. Using this work, we were able to quickly validate product features, written language and visual tone of voice to determine an appropriate solution to each, further down the line.
Through iterative design sprints involving many weekly user research sessions, we designed a product and marketing site that were a sea change for Standard Life. Our process enabled us to explore new brand positioning for Standard Life within the digital space and to create a product that provided a world class user experience – revolutionising how financial advice can be provided for the many people who need it.
Hosting the marketing site outside the existing Standard Life ecosystem meant we could iterate much quicker based on how people were using it. This was a great place for us to A/B test copy, imagery, layout and much more to quickly understand how we could improve the service and get people to where they (and we) wanted them to go.
Costs and charges are often a touchy subject, and one that required some communication. A key part to the service is its low cost (and therefore barrier to entry), it's also one of its strongest USPs. Users could even begin using the product for free, to get a sense of how it works and prove its value immediately.
We supercharged the existing Standard Life brand to create a truly contemporary product that would enable us to provide the best user experience and craft of UI design. This work included a UI kit, bespoke illustrations, typeface and colour palette that all 'nodded' to the existing Standard Life brand and digital assets.
This is where we gather all the information necessary to start creating a plan for our user. It's 25% quicker than the traditional process, which involves lots of paperwork and takes over 2 hours face to face with an IFA. We use this time to gather everything needed to understand their needs and aspirations for retirement, as well as their financial situation.
We used the right side of the screen to record and display answers, giving users an immediate view of their plan as it develops. Progress is clear and help is always at hand. We designed the UI to be minimal – ensuring a clean, legible experience. We worked extensively with a copywriter to craft the wording and ensure it remained engaging and understandable throughout – often explaining concepts in lay terms.
People often forget to add extra details and want a bird's eye view of everything as it comes together. Our summary pages enable users edit their details, and provide extra context for important points around tax and usage of funds. Our aim throughout was to be supportive, informative; empowering users to create their plan at a pace that suits them.
The way our product works is based on similar logic to an IFA. A good example of this is the 'Spending' section. This calculates how much money a user might be able to spend based on the finances they told us about and their stated goals. It takes care of essential living costs and suggests a minimum spending threshold based on where they live. Using an animated, interactive data visualisation, we map their finances to the lifespan of their retirement, and give them a picture of their retirement finances. This section is where the plan really starts to come to life - giving the user tangible answers to pertinent questions around how much money they will have to spend when they retire.
Once they have established an outline plan for spending and how their money might work, we then explain to users how their plan will flex and adjust to stresses risks and scenarios. The product takes them through some common hypothetical scenarios around investments, ongoing work, health and spending in order to show how the plan will adjust and the things they may need to consider going forward. Here they can also choose to flag things of particular importance, so that Standard Life can tailor their service.
Our initial pilot covered most of the advice process, but the initial product is supported by Standard Life advisors until additional features are added and the whole process can be digitised.