• Adam Wallace
  • Published: 11 December 2019

Capco is experiencing an ever-growing demand from our investment banking clients for user experience (UX) and design-led strategy expertise; which led to me working with a tier one US investment bank to define, using a Design Thinking-based methodology, innovative solutions to improve the way in which their senior management regime supervises operational risk. This was an environment I had not found myself in before and I learnt a number of things along the journey which I feel are useful to share. So here they are.


Don’t let domain complexities get in the way of user-centricity

The complex nature of capital markets processes and products can be daunting. I often found myself in ‘empathy interviews’ with global operations managers where it was challenging to keep up! The trick to managing this, and obtaining the information you need, is to shift the focus away from these complexities and instead discuss a user’s practical needs and aspirations. Regardless of the system or process you may be working with, a designer’s role is to empathise with and understand the end user. Whilst the content is the primary focus of an SME (subject matter expert), a designer’s should always be on the user’s needs and frustrations.

Don’t be afraid to dismantle

Sometimes processes and systems have been in place for a long time and become engrained in BAU work. This can cause attachment to them, even if they don’t necessarily work too well. In my experience, fostering a design mindset amongst the cross-functional client team that questioned the norm, and wasn’t afraid to be disruptive, was very productive. This is arguably how we innovate and realise the real opportunities, which may be to actually re-build with an understanding of the previous design’s weaknesses. Sometimes, the only way to fix something is to take it apart and start again.

Make your work relatable

If your investment banking clients have a limited understanding of exactly what user experience and Design Thinking is, what they involve and the benefits they provide. This can pose challenges with gaining support and understanding from stakeholders. I found storyboarding to be a powerful technique that brought them on the design journey with me by making my work relatable to their role and interests in a visual way. This relatively quick technique can help enable your stakeholders to tangibly understand what you are trying to achieve and the value it could bring. 

Co-creation is key
To truly realise the value of Design Thinking and give yourself the best chance of succeeding, it is important to achieve buy-in from all your key stakeholders. In order to do this, you cannot design in a vacuum. During my project I encouraged the client to break down silos by inviting a cross-functional team from operations, technology and change management to collaborate in ideation and prototyping workshops. Co-creation allows everyone to feel like they have contributed to building a product and should enable you to have everyone striving towards an aligned goal.
Everyone should think with their hands, not their head
Innovation is rarely achieved by simply sitting around a table and thinking. I found that using rapid prototyping and crazy 8s ideation takes stakeholders out of their natural working environment, which encouraged them to think differently and get closer to innovation. As designers we naturally prefer practical activities to come up with ideas, so push your stakeholders to do the same and you might be surprised by the results.

Reflecting on what I have learnt from the last few months as a designer working in capital markets, I have come to realise that the power of design is much more than just being a creative skill. Design has the power to be a cultural disruptor that brings about lasting change which fosters an empathetic, collaborative and open-minded environment to work in.