Case Study

How a self-guided investment journey can lead to financial success

The EY Design Studio helped an investment advisor firm create a digital platform simplifying customer journeys for self-directed investing.

The better the question

How do you make future investments a personal journey?

Businesses need to invest in digital experiences when customers request self-service options.


Using technology to enhance long-standing customer service can be delicate. On one side, technology can offer customers added flexibility and autonomy; on the other side, it can potentially stand in the way of irreplaceable human interactions. For a registered investment advisor, this was the dilemma. Their goal was to offer frictionless investing by adding digital self-service options for simple financial transactions – without eliminating access to advisors who are still just a phone call away. 

Many financial institutions are finding themselves in similar situations. Ernst & Young’s LLP’s (EY) NextWave Consumer Financial Services research, part of an ongoing series surveying a diverse group of more than 5,000 financial consumers, highlights how quickly the financial institution landscape is changing due to customer demands for digitization. With 86% of those surveyed rating their primary financial provider’s ability to offer seamless cross-channel experiences as important, the survey explores how financial institutions can win the battle for consumer loyalty by creating digitized and personalized experiences. So, while financial institutions have made great strides in growing their product and service offerings, there is still work to be done to create connected, super-fluid, opti-channel (optimized for the channel of choice) experiences for consumers. 


For one investment advisor firm, it was important to improve its customer’s digital experiences by reorienting offerings around the customer’s online journey. Many in the industry are focused on investment product improvements leaving the human element out of the equation. This firm wanted to offer an opti-channel tool allowing customers to manage their financial accounts independently, while simultaneously ensuring employees were still effective at offering personalized and tailored financial guidance when requested. Once this registered investment advisor decided to complete the digital transformation, they approached EY professionals to use human-centered methodologies and leading-edge tools to transform their customers’ digital experiences.

Our role at the EY Design Studio is to use empathy to drive design decisions making technology enjoyable to use.

The better the answer

A human-centered, user-driven design process leads to better outcomes

The EY Design Studio’s multi-disciplinary team and personalized approach helped transform a financial advisor’s investing experience.

The registered investment advisor knew they needed to understand their customers’ purchase patterns, financial acumen and company interaction pain points to ensure the new digital self-service investment platform would be useful. So, they tapped into the experience of the EY Design Studio, a cross-functional design team comprised of strategists, writers, developers, product owners, researchers and UX/UI digital designers who create digital experiences backed by research in human behavior.

The EY Design Studio team immediately began working with the investment advisor to analyze existing customer experiences, define a vision for the company's digital transformation and then apply the latest innovations in design to iterate toward that future state. 

It is important to note that before the EY Design Studio began transforming the client’s online customer journey, the EY Microsoft alliance successfully migrated the investment advisor’s current customer relationship management (CRM) database onto the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform. This step was crucial in creating a central repository for data collection and allowed the EY Design Studio to have access to important information for key design decisions. 

The EY Design Studio team combined a data- and research-informed iterative approach with human-centered methodologies to design the client’s digital user experiences, creating more efficient, multi-channel interactions across all user types and touchpoints — from self-directed investors to advised investors, from the web to chat. Additionally, using an agile process, allowed the team to create a seamless on-time project flow.

“Our role at the EY Design Studio is to use empathy to drive design decisions making technology enjoyable to use,” noted Greg Picarelli, Principal, EY Design Studio, Ernst & Young LLP; EY US Experience and Innovation Design Commercial and Operations Leader. “In the case of this client, we used targeted user-centered research insights, modern design and advanced development methodologies to craft a unique digital experience allowing consumers to have more autonomy during the investment process.”

The better the world works

Investing on the go makes money management effortless

Elevating the digital experience helps investors gain real-time updates for their portfolios.


This investment advisor is now equipped to support its customers how and where they want. Around the clock and around the world each client can now see what accounts they have active, how well those accounts are performing, and they can complete simple financial transactions. In fact, the new user-optimized digital experience has increased independent online customer actions by 400% and reduced call volume by 1,000 calls per day. 

If organizations want to succeed in an industry with ever-changing customer expectations and a growing competitive landscape, they need to be ready to transform. And as digitization has created opportunities for new players to emerge, acting with a sense of urgency is essential to retain relevance. By addressing consumer demands for more autonomous investing without underpinning the importance of personalization, this investment advisor is solving a dilemma many financial institutions find themselves in today — winning the battle for consumer loyalty.

Online customer actions have increased by
due to the new user-optimized digital experience.

With the goal to be seen as a digital leader in the asset management space, this investment advisor continues to elevate its brand and make it easier for customers to invest with them. Their next steps will include additional online investing capabilities and an upgraded mobile application making on-the-go investing even easier.

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