Investing in the right agency partner can make or break your digital experience. So, how do you know you’re working with the right one?
At Spark, we’re commonly solving user experience and technology challenges for the finance industry. In this space, digital products and services are typically targeted toward RIAs, Brokers, Wealth Managers, Financial Planners, and Fiduciaries.
In finance, a Fiduciary is simply a Financial Advisor that is held to a higher standard of care and must always act in their client’s best interests. They must disclose conflicts of interest and have pledged to make recommendations with your best interest in mind, rather than their own financial benefit.
I’m sure that for our prospective clients, searching for the right UX firm can be a bit like being a retail investor looking for the right financial planner. You want to find someone with specialized expertise, a proven track record, and a dedication to professional integrity. Unfortunately, in our industry, there are no designations that make it clear how an agency will approach the client relationship.
In order to make sure you’ve found your UX fiduciary, be sure that you observe the following:
The agency incorporates strategic activities prior to execution
It’s impossible to act in the best interest of the client in finance or user experience if you don’t begin with a candid discovery of where you are today and where you want to get to. In personal finance, that might mean ensuring a stress-free retirement or buying a vacation home and in user experience that might mean improving conversion rates or NPS scores. In both cases, it probably means bringing to light hard truths about your current missteps but confronting these is essential to growth.
The agency proactively talks about measuring the results of the work
The agency needs to be intentional and specific about goals and targeted with how we determine success. Determining what you intend to measure upfront shapes the solution and how agency and executive sponsors will view the outcome. Lesser agencies shy away from these discussions because they’re afraid to be held accountable for real business impact.
The agency will respectfully challenge requests they don’t feel will be effective
A good friend, life partner, or fiduciary will care enough to call you out when you’re headed down the wrong path. A collaborative agency partner is no different! They need to be invested in you to the extent that they will voice concern based off of their experience and interest in a successful outcome.
The agency holds regular account meetings and listens to constructive feedback
A fiduciary typically holds quarterly meetings and annual performance reviews. At Spark, even though we meet with our clients at least once a week, we still hold meetings to listen, receive feedback, be accountable, and make adjustments for continual improvement.
The agency will propose and recommend cost-effective alternatives
Recently, my fiduciary made a recommendation based on the current economic climate that ultimately didn’t increase his AUM and by proxy his fees. For me, this reinforced the value that I was receiving from the collaboration. An agency, if they are acting in your best interest should not always recommend the solution with the largest scope but should instead be looking for value-based recommendations. Many experiences suffer from death by a thousand cuts and can be significantly improved through specific and targeted adjustments that don’t require a ground-up rebuild.