Yellowtail, a Netherlands-based financial consulting firm, has expanded its offerings with the launch of its User Experience & Design (UX) practice. The expansion allows the professional services firm to meet increases in financial services client demand for design services. Birashanth Thanabalasingam, employed since 2010 by the firm, has been named Head of the UX practice.
As digitalisation washes over the financial world, the importance of design is rising. Banks and insurance companies are under pressure to streamline their client services in a bid to stay on top of the increased expectations from customers around the quality of online engagements. Particularly, the millennial generation has high expectations about the online availability and user-friendliness of financial services. Under the design domain the need to have a well presented front-end is only a minor element, design today has become more and more about how services and products work – particularly in relation to customer service and channel-independence. To put it bluntly, good design means that financial services are made more relevant, functional and palatable to customers.
For Yellowtail, an agency specialised in designing and implementing new concepts in the financial sector, the launch of a dedicated User Experience & Design practice stems from two important developments. First, the organisation has in recent years carried out several UX projects, not only in the Netherlands but throughout the world. According to the consulting firm, the pooling of knowledge and experience developed in the assignments within a dedicated practice is a natural step in the further professionalisation of the firm’s proposition. One example of such work was the development of a ‘wealth management dashboard’ designed for Advicent Solutions in the US - which allows consumers to specify goals, aggregate existing accounts and actively monitor and intervene where appropriate. As part of the service, the customer is always assisted and advised by a robotic advisor.
“The design we have created simplifies the processing of information and makes making important decisions easier. We want to engage customers and generate positive emotions with them. For that, we have combined creative design and our industrial-expertise within the application of the ‘Dual-Process’ theory; the most important piece of knowledge about how people think and act,” says Birashanth Thanabalasingam, who heads the new UX practice.
Standard Bank, one of the largest banks in South Africa, was recently also supported by a UX process. To better train its bank advisors for the conduct of customer services calls, the bank launched the ‘Goal Saver’ - a handy tool with which they can work with customers on site in the development of financial goals as well as in financial decision making. It took Yellowtail less than eight weeks to develop the efficient ‘funnel’, and tool is now used by the bank.
Second, Yellowtail is, with the launch of its Design Practice, responding to the rapidly growing market for design. The Financial Services segment – which accounts for about a quarter of the global advisory market – is the fastest growing sector in the consultancy market. Moreover, it is within Digital (together with Risk & Compliance), the fastest growing segment. To be successful in the field of design, a field that goes beyond the traditional spectrum management consultancy, consultancy firms see themselves forced to expand their UX expertise by starting new practices or through takeovers. Thus, to name a few examples, McKinsey & Company acquired Lunar in May of this year; Synechron took over UX specialist Usable; Accenture recently bought both Chaotic Moon and Fjord; while BCG last year bought the Australian Strategic & Creative. The Big Four are also busy expanding their design skills – PwC, as reported earlier this month on Consultancy.uk, has been quick to move toward combining digital design and consulting.
In the case of Yellowtail, Thanabalasingam indicates, the firm distinguishes itself in the market by its focus on the financial sector and the end-to-end services that it can offer its customers. “We can now develop components from A to Z that provide impetus and boost the quality of digitisation efforts within the financial services sector. Moreover, we can support clients with our expertise in the areas of strategy, experience design, implementation and optimisation. The combined package under one roof is demanded by clients, seeking to respond quickly and effectively to developments in the market,” says Thanabalasingam.
Thanabalasingam is based in Hilversum, and will work closely with Yellowtail's thirty-five consultants in the city and over forty developers in Cape Town.