4 Prerequisites For User Experience Practitioners In Financial Services

User Experience (UX) practitioners may encounter a scenario whereby they need to apply their experience and expertise within the Financial Services (FS) sector. This engagement can take various forms that range from consultancy to recruitment. These in turn affect the level of understanding of financial services that is required. Indeed, clients in the world of finance generally demand a few, yet specific skill sets and prerequisites before they consider making a hire. Here are the most salient of them:

1. A Stunning Resume

More often than not, you will not see anyone with anything less than senior/upper level skills finding regular work with financial service projects. When banks assess the attractiveness of prospective projects, they not only figure the promise of the project itself, but also view the talent on board as bundled into the contract. As a result, if a veteran of the user experience market can demonstrate a string of satisfied clients, it’s not a huge leap to secure contracts in financial services

2. Familiarity with robust, complex processes

Finance has always been a complicated domain, but given the real-time nature of today’s online world of money management, a pro in the industry must be able to be on top of a myriad of considerations (risk assessment; regulatory and compliance laws) streaming in from a variety of sources. In other words, top financial service players need to be adept at fast vertical thinking in response to often startling banks of raw data.

Of course, the kind of multi-variable thinking that is the sine qua non of user experience design can serve as an expected gateway to financial services, but in addition to the complexity of data-assessment, user experience emigres should already have had significant experience in areas where volume of real-time data and its attendant software come into play. Accordingly, user experience designers who have spent time in such industries as pharmaceuticals, gaming, and telecommunications — fields dependent on tracking rivers of highly transactional processes — tend to make the most effective transitions.

3. A knack for consultation

In many ways, user experience and financial services could not be more different in their respective compositions: banks are macro entities that are governed by the fiscal visions of stakeholders, not the accelerated soft skills associated with the design-driven world of UX, and rarely have a leg up on leading trends in digital technology. Nevertheless, some of the key skills among the UX sector can effectively be alchemized into a successful formula within financial services. In particular, it is the personal flexibility of UXers, whether in regards to challenging projects or demanding clients, that cuts the most ice among the financial services crowd. When user experience practitioners are tapped into the financial services world, it’s under the auspices of a consultancy. However, because in these situations hirers see user experience staff promising the greatest overall dividends as vision-keepers within a steady team, the part-time, remote connotations of “consultant” are not the case here.

4. Understanding the nuances of banking products

Investment bankers themselves make a clear distinction between their line of work and the boundaries of traditional consumer-end retail banking. To a large degree, this is because bankers in the investment sector must respond to avalanches of transactional data that must be assessed not just in real time, but in microscopic fractions of it. Accordingly, stakeholders will assume designers to come to the table with an all but intuitive relationship with contemporary markets and trading trends.


All in all, you can still break into the world of financial services from a user experience design angle even in you lack certain core competencies so long as the remaining tools in your belt make up for it. Financial services recruiters will expect that you’re on top of your game within the user experience domain, and are well-known within that sector. You should feel at home in a consulting environment, with all of the hardballing and relationship-building that goes with it. UXers should know how to navigate byzantine, industry-specific platforms and the challenges intrinsic to these industries as regards to banking. When these elements come into play, user experience designers will find a solid footing in their adopted second domain.

(Lead image source: SimonQ)

  • Jordan Julien

    Not so sure about the resume requirement. Demonstrated knowledge, passion, strategic thinking, and a collaborative spirit may be valued above a resume at some, more progressive, financial institutions. Evaluating candidates based on a resume can lead to disqualifying potentially great team members, and hiring poor team members. I assume everything on a candidates resume is bullshit until I actually sit down with them and discuss actual involvement in various projects. – Just because a UX professional has had a history of working with great teams, doesn’t necessarily mean he’s great himself (or would be great as a member of your team).