Transforming Canada's largest robo-advior into a financial goal-centric app.
User researcher, UX/UI designer
Interviews, Usability testing, GV Sprint, Sketch, Marvel
3 weeks within March-April 2017
4 research and testing interviews, a user research protocol, recruitment protocol, new mocks for new features, and the onboarding redesign of Wealthsimple.

During my time at Wealthsimple as their first design intern, I redesigned features and as well as built new ones. The biggest project I worked on was leading a user experience research project on financial goals. This project aimed to uncover and understand how people plan and manage their financial goals.

Tying in financial goals to investing was natural, hypothesizing that investing is a means to a financial goal—which proved to be true in all our user interview results. This research helped leverage this validated hypothesis into redesigning our onboarding and creating other new features down the product roadmap.

"Investing is a means to a financial goal."

This project consisted of creating a user research protocol, surveying, screening, and recruiting target users, and creating a prototype to test using Google Ventures' Sprint framework.

Design sprint

Through the sprint, the long-term goal established was, "to provide a leading robo-advisor service that allows people to manage their investments in the most optimal and accessible way for reaching their financial goals." The sprint question this research aimed to answer was, "will providing a financial goal-centric feature make users fund their accounts more regularly?"

WS sprint map
Map of relevant actors and events to get to the target goal—reaching an investment goal.

After talking with subject matter experts such as portfolio managers, the target moment was focused on helping clients on deciding on their auto-deposits. This moment exists in various touchpoints of the app, and this should ideally start from the moment they sign up. Thus solutions were designed from onboarding up to in-account funding.

"The target moment was focused on helping clients on deciding on their auto-deposits. This should ideally start from the moment they sign up."

Various solutions were explored, taking inspiration not only from other robo-advisors or financial services, but also gamification and reward systems. This allowed for ideas outside of the domain to be integrated into the solution. Successful examples of reward and gamification systems followed similar mental models I wanted to take advantage of—driving users to do in-app activities (or deposits) to gain rewards later (or investment earnings).

WS storyboard
Storyboard from onboarding to funding, created after 2 days of the sprint.

The redesign flow of the onboarding process can be seen in the No Call Model HTA (Hierarchical Task Analysis) where the visitor is financial goals and planning questions in addition to investment risk questions. This allows us to leverage their data to create a questionnaire endpoint that drives them to sign up and know how much their monthly auto-deposit must be, right from the get go.

Hierarchical Task Analysis done for the No Call Model.

User research
The resulting prototype's primary solution was to show the user a visualization of their money projections based on each goal, and how much they should save per month. These parameters can be changed and the user will see how much they should be saving in order to hit their goals. At the same time, this also allowed for users currently unfit for investing to reconsider their choices.
"A visualization of their money projections based on each goal, and how much they should save per month."
WS Plan
Numbered are the 10 distinct features tested with the participants.

The user research protocol consisted of interviews, card sorting, and a moderated usability test. Various methods were used to uncover answers across behavioural and attitudinal dimensions. The target user criteria was determined through metrics and corresponding demographics of Wealthsimple clients.

WS Ratings
Qualitative ratings from 1-5 by prototype task. The prototype above scored a 4.25/5.00, and the entire testing prototype resulted in 4.30/5.00.

4 people participated in one and a half hour long user research sessions. There were great reviews of the prototype, and 3 out of 4 participants claimed they would love to use the features in the prototype. The prototype solved the one common problem they all had—poorly defined financial goals.

"The prototype solved the one common problem they all had—poorly defined financial goals."

Working with Calvin Cheng, the design lead of the No Call Model project, my prototyped and tested designs were incorporated into the redesign of Wealthsimple's onboarding. The end product kept the essentials of the financial data visualization and more intuitive visualization controls as noted from the research.

NCM Prod Asset mix NCM Controls NCM Controls

The No Call Model onboarding was put into production in April 2017. It was aptly called as such since it was meant to reduce the number of portfolio manager calls required to let clients fund into Wealthsimple. With the new questionnaire, it is now legally compliant to not require PM calls in order to fund greater than $5,000. Thus, the No Call model has reduced the number of PM calls by more than 50% in its first week of release.

Auto-deposit rate data was too early to collect and hence, remains inconclusive to me after my time at Wealthsimple. Nonetheless, the research proved to make it easier for users to fund their accounts with a guided amount, as the prototype provided.

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