How to sell difficult banking products


Buying investment funds and doing it online? Financial decisions are no insignificant matter. So how to encourage customers to shop this way? The then BZ WBK Bank decided to find a way to do it.

Research, Ideation, Co-creation, Visual design
Project implemented in November 2018

How to encourage clients to purchase investment funds on their own through the website, without the support of advisors?

We go to the bank's website. We are trying to find information about investment funds. And then we see it – long descriptions you have to go through to understand what's going on. So at first the simplest solution comes to our mind – we reach out for the phone to call the hotline or we go to the nearest bank branch and the problem is solved. The advisor guides us through the entire purchasing process. So how to talk about funds so that clients don't need to consult an advisor? The Bank wanted to create a platform available for customers 24/7, where investment shares could be bought, managed and analysed. And if problems arise, the platform will provide appropriate support. Legal issues were also an important aspect - the project was to comply with the EU directive MIFID 2.

During the work, we were discovering more cards with challenges:

  • an investment fund – what is it and how to talk about it? It is, after all, associated with considerable own contribution, risk and uncertainty,
  • errors in the usability of the investment platform itself – how to encourage someone else to wade through something that is even hard for me to do,
  • Fear of investing due to the recent financial crisis – some of the respondents lost money on investing in funds or knew the people who lost it. They trusted that their valuations would constantly go up. No wonder they're unsafe about this topic.

There was also a legal issue. The new directive makes it clear that advising on specific solutions is not an option. Because how to advise not to advise? So how can we help you go through the process so that at each stage you understand what is happening and can make the best decision for you? We had to start looking for a way to talk about the funds as objectively as possible. But still, in an engaging way!

We couldn't forget about the psychological barriers of our customers. How to know and understand what are the barriers to buying without the support of advisors? There's no better way than... to talk! That is why we started with in-depth interviews about the current version of the service.


The most important path

The survey participants made it clear that the old platform is difficult and incomprehensible. And if they don't understand what they're reading and don't know what to do, they lose confidence. We needed to remember - when designing a new platform, we must improve the purchasing process and eliminate the risk of abandonment. So we started by writing a new user path. 

Below we present a diagram with planned information architecture of TFI Arka in BZWBK service.

In working on the user's path we made the following assumptions

  • Let's create a clear navigation and start page - the most important change that will make it easier to get a quick overview of the situation (account status) and to perform the most important actions (purchase operations).
  • Let's design a "Green Path" - visible in the diagram. We will introduce the user step by step into the world of investment funds.
  • Let's add guideline content - for less conscious and distrustful customers.
  • Let's add the ability to compare funds - for more advanced users.
  • Let's add "Cart" – a solution known from online stores.

And after all that, the designers will propose a new visual version of the platform. Simplicity and readability as a basis!

The project consisted of 4 stages

1. We get to know the context

  • For starters, benchmarks – the best solutions functioning on the market. We analyzed their strengths and weaknesses to create a set of good practices. They were very useful in further stages of the project.
  • We conducted research with users – it allowed us to create a profile of the recipient of our solution – what he needs and what his expectations are.

2. We develop a strategy for the platform

  • A common vision – it's hard to move on without it. That's why we brought together all the decision-makers to make sure that we all see the same goal of the project,
  • Inspirations – we collected the most interesting solutions from the market and presented them to the team on the bank side. This has helped us to better understand what they expected from the designed platform,
  • Who do we do it for – we have decided together who we address the platform to. We were helped by the staff, and together we created the personas in the course of the research,
  • Value proposition – we started designing a new value proposition for the project,
  • Design workshop – we conducted it together with all stakeholders. First of all, it helped us develop strategic assumptions and project guidelines.

3. We create a design proposal

  • Design directions – that is how we can develop our solution,
  • Customer paths – because everyone can use the website a little differently. And having written down the paths, we could create an information architecture on the site. One that allows users to go through the process in different ways - the path that is most convenient for them,
  • Communication strategy – what language will we speak and how will we conduct the narrative,
  • Another usability test – because it is the best way to verify our ideas and improve them quickly.

4. We submit the project for implementation

Close cooperation with developers allows to avoid many misunderstandings at the implementation stage. If we all understand each other and know exactly how our solution should work, we are able to complete the whole implementation much faster. So we prepared 110 pages of detailed description of all screens designed by us, but also the recommended form of interaction.

A fragment of the home page.


We designed a new service that easily introduces the world of funds

We got it! The new platform guides the user step by step and explains the more difficult moments. The users can now control their investments and, most importantly, they no longer need the support of an advisor to buy funds. They can use online help at any stage and the language is fully understandable.

User panel structure.

What have we achieved

  • Online fund sales without the help of an advisor increased – the bank noted an organic increase in independent online purchases (after 6:00p.m.).
  • The project won two internal BZ WBK awards in 2018 – including for best implementation.
  • The new platform was launched in 2018 – the detailed implementation documentation prepared by us had a great influence on the quick implementation.



What we learned

We knew that the financial theme would not be easy, but the adopted model of cooperation allowed us to carry out the project efficiently. Developing all the dependencies on the client's path and analysing the fund purchase process were a solid lesson for us. We experienced it ourselves how important good contact and constant exchange of information with the customer were in this project. And most importantly, with the decision-maker, who collects conclusions from all decision-making departments of the bank.

It was of great value to us to include the voice of advisors in the project. They're the ones who have helped clients buy investment funds so far. And they're the ones who have the best knowledge of how to sell. They also gave us a lot of insights the things we should have avoided. And this has greatly improved project decision-making.