Close Brothers ISA accounts

Adding ISA accounts to a growing product porfolio


Close Brothers Savings traditionally has offered long term savings and pension products however in order to increase and expand their customer base they wanted to start offering ISAs to their customers. They came to our team to see how we could support them in evolving their current systems to incorporate a new range of ISA products.


I led the design of project working alongside a visual designer and gaining feedback from head of design. I was responsible for conducting an evaluation of the current system, developing concepts and testing these with users.

The problem

Close Brothers Savings were looking to introduce ISAs for their customers; however, their existing systems were not optimised to do so. They lacked the scalability and structure to deliver additional and more complex products.

Understand and agree our focus

We ran numerous workshops with the business to understand their requirements, review the current banking system and identified key areas within the current system where changes or improvements needed to be made in order to support the introduction of ISAs whilst also identifying opportunities to enhance the user experience and improve usability.

We identified four key areas where change was required.

  1. Marketing website – restructure of products to cater for and promote ISAs.
  2. Product application – allow customers to fund their account via ISA transfer
  3. Customer account – improvements to better cater for different product types
  4. ISA allowances – look to encourage customers to use their ISA allowance by adding funds to their account

Focus 1 – Restructure of products to cater for a growling portfolio

Due to the limited number of products that Savings initially offered, the structure on the website was quite flat. All products were accessible from a single page, via a tabbed navigation. We quickly recognised that this structure would not easily be able to cater for additional products.

As-is products page

Grouping products by their type

We looked at how we could group the products to reduce the number of products presented in one view – ISAs, Savings and Pensions. This would allow customers to view and compare similar products in one view and then navigate to other product types using the main menu.

Restructure of products

Whilst this restructure satisfied the business requirements, we were aware that this did create an extra step in the customer journey. We therefore looked at how we could route customers to those different groups directly from the homepage to ensure the journey remained fast and efficient.

New homepage
New product group page

Focus two – Provide customers with a way to transfer their existing ISA to us

The steps to apply for an ISA were very similar to the existing journey. The main change required for ISAs was allowing customers to fund their account via an ISA transfer – transfer funds from an existing ISA they held elsewhere to us. To do this CB Savings needed to capture where the funds where coming from, how much they wanted to transfer and whether this was from a current or previous year’s allowance. We then created a high level user journey for the application process to understand how we would best order the information. Due to the amount of information asked of the customer during on boarding we used a multi-step form to break up the information helping to keep users focused and make the application feel less daunting.

ISA application flow

Creating our detailed screen flow

Using the high level journey as our base we created a detailed screen flow which captured all of our edge cases such as wet signatures, additional IDV checks and multiple confirmation/next steps screens. We used this to test our scenarios and ensure we had catered for all our product requirements.

Detailed screen flow

Fast and efficient design using the Design System

Finally, we began creating the screen designs. One big advantage we had during the screen design phase was our design system. Having all of our components already designed and tested, following key usability principles meant that we didn’t have to spend time designing each component and allowed us to focus on the ordering of questions and user flows. It also allowed us to rapidly create the pages and get early feedback from stakeholders.

In order to minimise the questions presented to the customer, we utilised conditional logic at key stages in the application. This ensured that customers were only presented with questions relevant to them and made the application as fast as possible. We used this to adapt in page questions like when selecting between a Cash ISA or Stocks and Shares ISA but also to adapt following screens in the journey – for example, when selecting their deposit method we would only present the relevant funding screens to match their selection.

Select deposit method
ISA transfer instructions

Designing for all devices

We designed desktop, tablet and mobile screens together ensuring that the journey worked across all devices. Again, by using our design system components, we were able to create our responsive screens fast focusing on the ordering of questions and flow.

Responsive screen designs

Focus three – Help customers understand and distinguish between their different accounts

Whilst the current customer account home page could cater for ISA products we did however identify a potential need to help customers distinguish between their different product accounts as their portfolio grew.

Our focus was:

How might we help customers understand how their account balance is split between their different product types so that they can manage their money effectively?

We started by identifying what information a customer would need to see in order to understand their account and product:

  • Total account balance
  • Product groups the customers currently has
  • The combined balance of products per product group

Using visualisation to reduce the cognitive load

We then began to ideate thinking about different ways we could present this information to customers. We explored different visualisation types with the aim of making the information easier to digest and reduce the cognitive load.

We looked at two types of visuals: a segmented bar and donut (pie) chart. These type of visuals were best to show the parts of a whole and because our average customer typical held no more than three types of accounts at any one time we were confident that they wouldn’t become overloaded with too many segments.

We carried out some guerilla style testing with CB colleagues (not part of Savings) to get feedback on the different layouts and visualisations. Preference was on the donut style visualisation as it was deemed to be easier to see ratios between amounts and was deemed to be more recognisable when representing parts of a whole.

Accounts breakdown ideation
Account summary study

Focus four – Allow customers to see how much of their ISA allowance they have used

The final element we looked at was allowing customers to see how much of their ISA allowances they had used.

Identify the scenarios

We identified six scenarios which we needed to cater for along with the options users would have and the information they would need to make an informed decision:

Easy Access – Allowance remaining
User is subscribed to an Easy Access ISA account and has not used their full allowance for the current tax year. They have the option to add more money their account to make use of their tax free allowance.

Easy Access – Allowance used
User is subscribed to an Easy Access ISA account and has used their full allowance for the current tax year. They are unable to add any money to their ISA accounts.

Fixed Rate – Allowance remaining – Inside funding window
User recently opened a Fixed Rate ISA account and is currently still in the funding window and has not used their full allowance for the current tax year. They have the option to add more money their account to make use of their tax free allowance.

Fixed Rate – Allowance used – Inside funding window
User recently opened a Fixed Rate ISA account and is currently still in the funding window and has used their full allowance for the current tax year. They are unable to add any money to their ISA accounts.

Fixed rate – Allowance remaining – Outside funding window
User has a Fixed Rate ISA account has allowance remaining but is outside funding window. They are unable to add any money to their ISA accounts.

Previous ISA
User holds a previous years ISA account with Close Brothers. They can re-subscribe to an existing eligible ISA account or open a new ISA account for this tax year.

Design exploration

The key information we needed to provide etc user was:

  • Amount they had saved in ISAs this tax year
  • Amount of allowance remaining
  • How long they had to use their remaining allowance
  • Clear action to open or fund and existing eligible account
ISA allowance ideation

Our visual designer took the early wireframes and developed a series of different visualisations to communicate the information. We again took these different designs and tested them with a group of CB colleagues (non Savings team) and asked them to explain what they thought their ISA allowance would be using the designs.

We found that the more simple and traditional bar style designs performed better. Users were quicker and more confident in understanding their ISA allowance.

Allowance visualisation study

Developing the designs

We then took the visuals and began creating the designs for each of the scenarios.

Outcome and results

Delivery of the four areas was phased with website and onboarding changes being delivered first, and account information and ISA allowances following. The ISA allowance feature is still under development and due to be released by January 2022.

The 2 Year Fixed Rate Cash ISA was the first product to be offered within the category, followed by the launch of longer terms. 4 months after launch over 4,000 ISA accounts were opened and 1,830 ISA transfers-in had been processed, reaching £100m balances in ISA products. There was also a 18% increase in overall online applications. 9 months post launch, the Fixed Rate Cash ISA book has grown to over £202m of Savings Balances.

The success of the launch has enabled Savings to grow their portfolio and customer base. We are continuing to work with Savings to optimise the onboarding journey and servicing journeys.