Designing the jargon out of ESG

Design the jargon out

The financial services industry is full of jargon that customers do not understand. Language and frameworks are not shared across the industry, leading to confusion for professionals, never mind pension members and investors. This has never been more true than for ESG. If navigating ESG is difficult for professionals, how can we expect the rest of the world to understand it and engage? 

For pension and investment providers engaging customers with their investments is critical. Providers want customer loyalty, assets and, ultimately, their well-being. And it's important for sustainability too, which is something all universals owners should be concerned about. Customers may not own the stocks underlying their investments but they are indirect shareholders and their interest in the "ESG-ness" of their investments could be our ticket to a more sustainable system. 

This ESG rat race has the potential to introduce complexity to an already complicated set of products and investment choices. ESG scoring metrics, for example, can overwhelm customers. They might be useful for asset managers, but we can't just pass the same metrics down the chain without thinking about design. We must think more carefully about User Experience, in particular, to support investors as they navigate around investment platforms and seek to make financial decisions.

Great User Experience tells a story for customers that surpasses jargon barriers and strengthens their understanding. Good User Experience (UX) takes the load off tech teams and stakeholders by ensuring that every element put in front of a customer is efficient and effective.

"Good Design"

Dieter Rams is a German industrial designer who was responsible for the design of Braun’s consumer products for many years. About 50 years ago, in his quest to answer the question “Is my design a good design?”, he developed the 10 principles of good design.

According to Dieter Rams, good design:

  1. Is innovative
  2. Makes a product useful
  3. Is aesthetic
  4. Makes a product understandable
  5. Is unobtrusive
  6. Is honest
  7. Is long-lasting
  8. Is thorough down to the last detail
  9. Is environmentally friendly
  10. Involves as little design as possible

Rams' principles, as applied to electric razors, should still guide our thinking in the financial services sector today.

Focus on User Experience (UX)

Communicating complex ideas to customers with low financial literacy needs UX design expertise in order to simplify, speed up and personalise their experience.

Referring back to Dieter Rams' list, financial products must be simple (2, 4). Simplicity is vital to maximise uptake and accessibility, regardless of financial literacy levels. You have just a few seconds to engage a user when they land on a website before they leave. Choose to prioritise Ts&Cs at your own peril. Design speaks to the why: why does your product matter to that consumer? Why is it personally relevant for them? That's the first thing they need to know. 

The financial services industry is generally driven by growth in AUM and is increasingly coming under margin pressure. UX and design can be easy cuts to make, yet are imperative for driver value creation - both for FS businesses and their customers. 

Introducing ESG to customers will undoubtedly drive engagement. However, you can't dump a score next to a fund to tick an ESG box. In order to make ESG digestible, attention needs to be redirected to the UX and design of the platform itself. That way, providers will always be at the forefront of innovation with a customer base who are passionate, loyal and engaged. 

More Insights

Gamestop or Game On: when a frenzy frames the future

Read more