Platform Feature and Training
In 2016, I had the opportunity to work with the UI designers and developers in the bank that I was working at as a foreign exchange dealer, to create an in-house Dual Currency Investment(DCI) feature on the bank's trading platform. Dual Currency Investments were highly sought after by our private wealth banking clients. For 3 years, we had been dealing with third party banks using their platforms for the DCI product. The investment banking division realized the need to cater to the private wealth banking business requirement. By having the product on the existing trading platform, it could also be used to increase the business offerings to other corporate clients of the bank. Hence, my team was tasked to work with the UI designers on the design requirements.
The Design Thinking Process
I had no prior experience in UX design as I was a Foreign Exchange dealer. However, the design thinking process was applied instinctively during the design of the in-house platform DCI feature.
Since I was designing a platform feature that was primarily to be used by my team and the private wealth relationship managers, I had to understand the workings of the design and trading capability from a non-end-user perspective. This meant that I had to discuss with the foreign exchange traders to understand if my design requirements would create any substantial impact on them. This is because a DCI is made up of two products that require both the Foreign Exchange spot trader and option trader to manage risks.
To design the DCI feature that would cater to the needs of my team's daily execution and yet be able to minimize the risks absorbed by the traders. It should also be easy enough to allow relationship managers to do self-execution.
We had discussions with the traders on the traded volumes of the DCI business and showed them what other third-party banks offered on their platforms. After they were comfortable with the idea and gave us the go-ahead to discuss with the developers, the actual design process kicked off.
We were dealing our DCIs with third party banks, 2 of them via platforms and 1 via Bloomberg. Our relationship managers, on the other hand, had read-only access for 1 of the platforms. Given that the relationship managers were already used to the layout of the DCI platform from the third party bank, observations were done to take note of the nuances faced by the relationship managers on the third-party platform.
To design the DCI feature almost similar to what the relationship managers are familiar with but also improve on the design to eliminate existing nuances faced.
What I noticed was that the third-party platform showed the expiry date of the DCI on the deal panel which often confused the relationship managers as the maturity date is more important. This resulted in them checking against the wrong tenors for the DCI. They were also confused by the terminologies on the platform and often called my team to check if the parameters that they have keyed were correct. These observations were then noted down.
The 4 personas that I had to take into consideration were the trader, relationship manager, dealer and settlements officer. There were different kinds of risks for each persona. Therefore, I had to take into consideration of that and ensure that the design of the DCI feature would mitigate risks.
To think from the perspective of the 4 personas and ensure that the design of the DCI feature would be able to cover the requirements of each persona. This is to ensure that the life-cyle of a DCI trade would be seamless.
I noted what I thought was essential for each persona and had discussions with the respective personnel to ensure that there were no gaps in my understandings of the requirements.
With the requirements defined, I started to come up with the design based on 4 stages - deal panel, price quote mode, trade notification and trade blotter.
To ensure that the fields of the design in each stage made sense to the individual personas.
I had to ensure that the terminologies used would not confuse the different personas. Therefore, the naming convention of every field or button had to be properly thought out and made as simple as possible. To eliminate execution risks, I also decided to order the fields based on a 2-part parameter entry. Those on the top portion of the deal panel are mostly fixed parameters and the ones at the bottom are the variable parameters. The order would make it easier for the relationship managers and dealers to focus on the necessary fields on the deal panel quickly without having to shift their gaze all around the deal panel.
With the design requirements of the deal panel thought out and handed over to the UI designers, a clickable prototype was created for us to test the deal panel, followed by the different stages of the trade's life-cycle that were to be shown on the platform.
As there was no UX designer involved, the aim was to tie in the functional requirements made by my team with the cosmetic aspects provided by the UI designer for the deal panel.
My team members took turns to look at the prototype and pointed out on certain issues. As the initial deal panel's design requirement was made by us and the other stages were translated by the UI designer, we were able to spot some design flaws that would be confusing for the end-user. On the deal panel, only the start and maturity dates were shown. We removed the expiry date due to the common confusion faced by the relationship managers and at times, the dealer. However, the expiry date is still a key piece of information that had to be shown on the trade confirmation. This was not shown. We also requested the deal button to include key details such as the DCI yield and Strike level to act as a reminder to the end-user on the terms that they are trading on before executing.
After the cosmetic issues were rectified by the UI designers, the official testing took place. The tests involved my team, the traders and settlement officers. This was to ensure that the life-cycle of a DCI trade would be properly captured in the other systems like Murex and Avaloq. It was also to eliminate any operational risks.
Ensure that the DCI trade is properly captured in the downstream systems like Murex and Avaloq. Limit operational risks involved in the transaction by covering all aspects of a deal from start to end.
We booked deals into the test account to ensure that the prices were streaming correctly and that risks were properly reflected in the traders' books. As there were different day-count values for certain currencies, we tested these currencies to ensure that the default day-count was set to either ACT/360 or ACT/365 days per currency. Once the traders gave the all good confirmation, we checked with the settlements team to ensure that the details reflected in the deal blotter were sufficient for them to cross-reference for the four-eye checks.
The prototype was polished overall and the next task was user adoption. I had to perform training sessions with the relationship managers and night-desk dealers to guide them on the new in-house DCI feature.
To introduce the new feature on the platform in a way that makes it familiar to the users rather than to make them feel as if it is a separate application altogether.
I created a training deck that mostly consisted of screenshots and highlights of the steps to take at each screen. I wanted to tie in the feature with what the users were already familiar with our in-house trading platform. I also had to highlight the differences from the third-party platform they were used to, just to prevent any confusions. Noting that bulk of the relationship managers were not tech-savvy, screenshots and simple instructions were necessary to encourage them to be open to adopt and cross-check DCI quotes internally rather than solely rely on the third-party platform. Training sessions of roughly 15 minutes were done with different groups of relationship managers and our night-desk dealers to guide them on the DCI feature via a live-demo. After the training sessions were complete, I personally went to each relationship managers' desks to ensure that there were no issues with the layout of the DCI feature. Rather than help them include the DCI feature on their existing layout, I guided them on the platform altogether and provided a quick refresher course on adding new elements to their existing layout settings.
I received positive feedback from the relationship managers as they mentioned that the DCI feature was easy and clear-cut without having too many complex banking terminologies. What made it easy for them to adopt the new feature was based on the understanding and observations made in the 3+ years that I have worked with them. By knowing their preferences and common issues made while using the third-party platform, it was easy to determine and fine-tune the necessary design elements for our in-house platform, without any prior UX design knowledge.
Things I've learned from this project:
Understanding behaviours and habits helped to enhance the UX design element from a layman perspective.
Knowing that training sessions that exceed 15 minutes tend to be counter-productive due to short attention span, the training deck and session was designed to stay under the 15 minutes timeframe.
While an easy design and training session is useful, the personal attentiveness to each relationship manager during the launch of the DCI feature made them happy to try out the new feature, even if it meant having to do more work by doing a price comparison with the third-party platform.
Rather than only being concerned with the end-user persona, the DCI feature was able to be quickly designed and launched due to the collaboration between the different stakeholders. All angles were covered and the launch was made in confidence and with much success.
On a personal level, it also opened the doors to a new challenge for me. After 7 years of working experience in private wealth foreign exchange, I realized that I enjoyed the process of building/designing the business and applications more than the execution and advisory of foreign exchange related matters. As much as I loved the excitement of the fast-paced foreign exchange market, I could not see myself holding the same job in the long-run. In 2017, I took a leap of faith and left the team that I've built together with my line-manager in 2013. I wanted an affirmation on my then-found realization.