Wealth Outlook Report Redesign

Merrill Lynch Financial Advisors (F.A.'s) use a proprietary software program to run analyses and projections of their clients' finances, but the report generated by the program needed work. Designed by finance and data experts, it wasn't exactly designed with the end user in mind (namely, average people saving for college or retirement.) The report was intimidating, unattractive, and hard to understand. My goal in redesigning this report was to help F.A.'s have better conversations with their clients, and to help clients better understand their finances.


Communication audit / Design Review

The first step in this process involved a thorough analysis of the current report. I poured over every page in order to uncover the purpose of each exhibit, areas that are working well, and areas that needed improvement. I presented the results of my findings as follows: the robust report contains tons of helpful data, but they need help framing and designing the information.


Competitor Review

Next I analyzed two competitor reports that had similar purpose and scope: the Morgan Stanley LifeView Financial Plan and the Wells Fargo Envision Presentation. 


Interviews & User Research

I built prototypes of the most commonly used exhibits and tested them with Financial Advisors first, and conducted a separate test with Merrill Lynch clients. As a result of insights gained during testing, Merrill Lynch and I agreed to scrap a few exhibits that been a nightmare to design. They were too detailed and went beyond real users' concerns and needs. 


Concept Presentation

The proposed redesign addressed the issues uncovered during the design process: unclear narrative structure and flow, unclear terminology, inconsistent use of color/visualizations, and a confusing and crowded layout. A comprehensive typographic hierarchy and flexible grid system were put into place, and every opportunity was taken to simplify exhibits by reorienting, rewriting, combining or deleting information. The complete project involved creating designs for over 170 pages.