HSBC mobile app empowers UK customers to start investing

The Zühlke team led the research and design of HSBC’s new investment product for UK customers.

HSBC sign on a building
  • Research uncovers lack of confidence in investing
  • New app design empowers customers to start investing
  • Zühlke collaboration enhances mobile service design and delivery processes

The challenge

HSBC provides retail banking and wealth management products to around 14 million UK customers.

With customers impacted by rising inflation, a big focus for HSBC and the UK mobile banking team is helping more customers get started with investing.

For HSBC, it’s an opportunity to deliver superior experiences that better serve customers’ changing expectations around banking services and support.

For customers, investing can be a very effective way to grow personal savings. While the value of any investment can fall as well as rise, investing can be an attractive alternative or addition to low-interest current and savings accounts.

That’s why HSBC wants to empower UK mobile customers to understand the basics of investing and get started with just £50.  

portrait photo of James Hewitson, Head of Wealth Management, HSBC UK
' Around 389,000 of our customers aged under 35 have sufficient assets to invest, but are not doing so today. Empowering these customers to start investing is a clear opportunity to create added value. '
James Hewitson, HSBC UK
Head of Wealth Management

The bank had already built a successful wealth management mobile service for its Asian markets and wanted to leverage this knowledge to build a localised offering in the UK, where 64% of HSBC customers are digitally active.

But customer research and insights showed that Asia and the UK have very different customer attitudes towards investing. A different approach would be needed to create a compelling and user-friendly service for the UK market.

What we did

HSBC partnered with Zühlke to solve this challenge with the help of our world-class experience design capability.

We kicked off our collaboration with extensive user research and an eight-week discovery phase involving stakeholder workshops to clarify the needs and goals of the business and its customers.

The qualitative research, delivered with our partner Bunnyfoot, allowed us to gain a deep understanding of HSBC’s customers and their relationship with investing.

Research findings revealed that:

  • UK customers lack confidence in investing and are risk averse.
  • Awareness and financial literacy is much lower in the UK than in HSBC’s Asian markets.
  • Many UK customers believe that investing is for high-net-worth individuals only, and requires huge upfront investment.
  • UK customers trust their existing bank and would rather start investing with them than go to a different financial services provider.

Our research showed that HSBC had a clear opportunity to improve awareness and education and help more UK customers start investing. But the customer journeys that were working so well in Asia clearly needed rethinking to serve user differences in the UK market.

Here's how we approached the challenge.

two mobile phones showing the investment app of HSBC
  • Understanding and segmenting customers. We developed research-based personas to clearly establish who the service should appeal to and support. This provided a basis for addressing the needs, goals, and pain points of three customer groups: those totally new to investing, those a little more informed and curious, and those with investing experience.
  • Understanding the problem space. We mapped research findings against the existing customer journeys to uncover opportunities to better serve the business and its different customer sets.
  • Development of an MVP. We prioritised the most impactful improvement opportunities and incorporated them into an initial MVP design focused on investment fund selection.
  • Ongoing user testing and research. We ran ongoing research and testing together with our research agency and HSBC’s own pool of customer research participants. The quantitative and qualitative research, ranging from large surveys to guerrilla testing, helped us validate assumptions with evidence and test desirability with the target market.
  • Improving design and delivery processes. Our team reviewed and optimised mobile service design and delivery processes, with a focus on agility and customer centricity. Improving trust and communication across different disciplines and time zones was key to our success.
  • Accessibility testing. We ran user testing with customers with different access needs to ensure compliance, accessibility, and the best possible experience for all users alike.
  • Placing content at the heart of the service. Content is key to education and awareness, and so was vital to this project. We worked closely with our content partner to ensure that the service put the right content in front of the right types of customers, at the right stage in their journey.
portrait photo Jason Sweeney, HSBC
' The Zühlke team helped us bring our wealth management services to the UK mobile banking experience, adding value for our customers. What’s more, they helped us become more agile and customer-centric, allowing us to move smarter and faster. '
Jason Sweeney, HSBC UK
Senior Digital Product Manager

The results

Our team helped HSBC design a compelling mobile wealth management service for UK customers.

Customers in the UK can now reap the benefits of smart investing, with the ease and convenience they enjoy in other areas of their banking.

The team created a positive and lasting legacy, including improvements to their global design processes and Design Thinking approaches.

It’s early days, but the new UK service is already adding value for the business and its UK customers. The popularity of the new service has superseded expectations and is fuelling further developments and offerings in this space.

male person holding a mobile phone, looking at the HSBC investment app
Myles Davidson
Contact person for United Kingdom

Myles Davidson

Director Business Development

Myles Davidson is an experienced leader for the digital transformation of companies and product innovation. Significant experience in driving business initiatives on a local and international level in a complex and rapidly changing environment. Myles is known as trusted advisor for clients at C- and board-level for strategic questions around business innovation and technology.

Stefan Hirzel, Head of Banking, Zühlke Switzerland
Contact person for Switzerland

Stefan Hirzel

Head of Banking Switzerland

Stefan Hirzel joined Zühlke in 2013 and is responsible for the banking business for Zühlke Switzerland. He is a technology enthusiast and a passionate entrepreneur. Stefan is particularly fascinated by the financial industry, where he brings in his two traits day after day, and in close collaboration with our customers.  

Jan-Philipp Koch
Contact person for Germany

Jan-Philipp Koch

Head of Banking Sector

As an innovation partner, Jan-Philipp supports banks and other financial services companies in the development of data-driven business models and digital solutions and processes. He brings experience as a consultant from a technology and management consulting firm and thus extensive knowledge in the areas of Data, Machine Learning and Blockchain.

Julia Übeleis
Contact person for Austria

Julia Übeleis

Industry Lead FSI Austria

Julia Übeleis holds a degree in economics and has dedicated herself to the topics of digitalization, innovation and regulation for over 20 years. As Business Development Manager, she is responsible for the Financial Services Industry Market Unit at Zühlke Austria since 2022. Prior to that, she was responsible for the successful implementation of strategic projects in banking and insurance companies as well as in management consulting for clients in financial services. For her, Heraclitus' motto is particularly significant: The only constant is change.