More Than Finance: What It’s Like to Work in FinTech as a UX Designer

The world of finance is evolving, and fintech is at the heart of that change; powering everything from trading algorithms to banking applications. While it’s understandable to assume that everyone who works in fintech has a financial background, there are a variety of roles within the sector that attract individuals with creative skills.

Aine Ekoh is a UX Product Designer at JPMorgan Chase, where she collaborates across teams to develop and update digital products. She recently sat down with Dorenda Johnson, Industry Engagement Network Manager at 2U, Inc., for a virtual discussion about Aine’s journey into fintech as a UX designer and tips for students interested in joining the field.

Below, we’ll cover questions about what it’s like to be a UX designer in the fintech industry and how you can position yourself to be a competitive candidate for similar roles.

What is it like to work as a fintech UX designer?

User experience (UX) design is fairly new to the financial industry, but with the emergence and growth in fintech, finance is starting to catch up with more advanced technical fields. For Aine, she was attracted to the position due to an interest in tracking her own financial data through the Chase banking app and, as a result, decided to become part of the change happening within the industry.

“User experience design is like creativity you can express,” Aine explained during the discussion. “I want to create a better experience for users, and it’s exciting when I can work toward a solution with my team.” In her role at JPMorgan Chase, she works on building digital products for internal employees, while the consumer UX designer works on customer-facing products like the Chase banking app. After she and her team design the product or feature, they apply logic to their work and hand it off to the development team.

Communication and collaboration across various teams are crucial to Aine’s work. When small bugs are uncovered, she speaks with her manager to assess the issue, completes the UX design process to fix the issue, and passes it on to development. Relationship building can help make this process more efficients by partnering closely with the development team to explain the UX benefits of the product to the developer; making sure designs are being coded as they should. “Make the developer buy into the UX process,” Aine added.

Which tools do fintech UX designers use?

While every team will have its own preferred set of tools, Aine and her team at JPMorgan Chase rely heavily on design and project management tools to stay on task and on schedule. For instance, they use Figma, a web-based prototyping tool, to view and test their product designs; other firms may opt for AdobeXD or InVision, which perform similar tasks.

When it comes to project management, the JPMorgan Chase teams use JIRA to stay in unison with other teams. Aine and her team of designers can easily collaborate with the development team, track the status of a project from start to finish, and view the status of any given project she’s working on.

The UX/UI Boot Camp at UT Austin delivers a curriculum that covers these tools and more, including user-centric design research, user interface development, and web prototyping with programming languages (e.g., HTML/CSS, JavaScript). Get hands-on practice working with the same tools Aine uses in her day-to-day work!

What types of skills are required for UX designers working in fintech?

While UX design doesn’t necessarily involve the coding component of app development, having an understanding of the coding languages that underpin the technology can give designers a competitive edge in the job market.

In addition to foundational skills like storyboarding, prototyping, stakeholder management, and research, UX roles in fintech require specialized skills to succeed:

Hard skills

  • Finance knowledge (e.g., general terms, regulations) to stay on top of user needs and industry trends
  • Coding languages to understand how developers will implement designs

Soft skills

  • Problem-solving around business initiatives
  • Customer-focused approach to ease user pain points
  • Logic applied to the user journey

Keep in mind that once you start working as a UX designer in fintech, you’ll have to adopt a routine of lifelong learning to keep your skills relevant. Do your research to uncover trending tools, technologies, and tech stacks; familiarize yourself with new processes; and always be on the lookout for new design trends. Those trends won’t just help your designs look better, but they’ll also keep your company competitive through industry best practices.

What does a competitive fintech UX design resume include?

When it comes to standing out from other UX design candidates, your number one asset is your portfolio. That being said, your resume is an important component that gives employers a full view of your capabilities through your applied skills.

When Aine started to apply for UX roles in fintech organizations, she used her portfolio to get in the door — and she didn’t let her lack of finance experience prevent her from reaching her goals. Instead, she used her resume to market her transferable skills from her previous work in software development and highlighted her accomplishments in other ways:

  • Certifications — Depending on your area of expertise, consider supplementing your knowledge in UX design, financial technology, or project management through certification-based programs (e.g., Google UX Design Certificate). This will demonstrate your drive and motivation to master new skills outside of your foundational education.
  • Quantifying previous success — Promote your past work accomplishments through results-based language. For instance, your designs may have helped increase user traffic by X% or reduced user complaints by X%.
  • Boot camps and continuing education — Even if your initial training or education isn’t in UX/finance, make sure to include other types of relevant education such as boot camps or continuation courses.

Another tip Aine shared during the discussion was to leverage LinkedIn for more than just networking. She advised attendees to browse the profiles of individuals currently working in the role or company you want to work for, and look at their professional journeys that helped them get there. You may be surprised to find that many of those professionals have made similar career pivots to yours. Chances are, if it worked for them, it can work for you, too.

What should my UX portfolio include if I want to work in fintech?

Once you’ve decided that you want to apply your UX skills to the fintech industry, start working on projects to add to your professional portfolio. While networking can absolutely help you get in the door for an interview, a portfolio can help t you get in the door even faster; displaying your work from the start.

“Try to work on projects that are similar to the industry or business you’re interested in,” Aine told attendees. “Redesign their app, redesign anything so you can relate to what you’d be doing on a daily basis if you get hired.” This will also demonstrate to employers that you’ve done your research and have a clear understanding of the company’s work.

How can I set myself apart from other UX candidates when applying for fintech roles after completing a boot camp?

Once you’ve completed a boot camp, it’s time to start your job search — but keep in mind that your dream role may be a few steps down the road. “Don’t pressure yourself to get into a role right away. Instead, look to stepping stone roles that can help you get to the position you want,” Aine explained. After graduating from The Coding Boot Camp at UT Austin, she gained valuable insights through her job search process:

  • Use YouTube as a resource to see UX designers in action and even get practice for whiteboard interviews before you meet with hiring managers.
  • Internships can help you get your foot in the door of a company you want to work for, or provide you with additional experience in the field before being hired full-time.
  • Reach out to people on LinkedIn who are posting jobs, or who have recently made career pivots similar to what you’re interested in.
  • Familiarize yourself with the terminology used within the finance industry.
  • Remember that you’ll learn as you go — you won’t be expected to know everything from day one — so keep a growth mindset as you navigate through job postings.

With the growing need for UX professionals within the fintech sector, a boot camp is a great way to gain the skills and experience needed to qualify for a role in the field. The UX/UI Boot Camp at UT Austin teaches both the theory and tools used by modern designers while giving students the opportunity to work on portfolio projects throughout the program.

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