Design Engineering
Showcase

Coutts & Co

Team
Private Banking Services, Banking and Lending
Supervisor
Dr Marco Aurisicchio
Role
Design Engineering
Sector
Finance

Coutts is one of the longest established players in the private banking industry, but it is trying to transition away from traditional banking practices towards more agile ways of working. I was interested in how I could contribute as a Design Engineer to service the needs of the bank. Over the course of my internship, I made contributions to eight different projects that will significantly impact the creative direction of the business in the future. These encompass the responsibility of leading my own projects, running ideation sessions and presenting my proposals to senior stakeholders, including the executive committee and CEO.

 — Coutts & Co

Demonstration of Design Engineering Thinking and Skills

In my time at Coutts, I have had the opportunity to work on a large variety of projects that have challenged me to utilise my existing knowledge and learn new design thinking skills. Working with individuals from different departments across the bank has helped me to develop my interpersonal skills and expand my professional network. Below are some highlights of my most notable contributions.

 — Coutts & Co
Design Thinking Community of Practice

Design Thinking Community of Practice

Together with five other design engineering interns, I ran a weekly design thinking workshop for employees across the bank. These, one-hour workshops, consisted of a short presentation about design thinking followed by an interactive ideation activity. The main objectives for this were for attendees to gain a better understanding of design thinking practices, why they’re important and the chance to practice some design thinking skills first hand. Overall, it felt like we really made an impact to the way that our workshop attendees might think about approaching problem solving in the future and I learnt a lot about effective ways to engage with an audience.

 — Coutts & Co
Innovation – Project Athens

Innovation – Project Athens

This project was a good introduction to understanding Coutts’ target client base. I helped to draft a survey for real Coutts’ clients, which helped us to identify that clients value transparency about fund decisions. An idea that I contributed to target this was a twitter-like engagement platform that would allow fund managers to post about ESG updates. Clients would then be able to interact with these posts to encourage a more transparent dialogue between them and their investment managers. I created a high-level, UI prototype for this using Photoshop and animation, which received positive feedback.

 — Coutts & Co
AUM Lab – Project Engage

AUM Lab – Project Engage

In this project, I had the opportunity to create client-facing, interactive prototypes using Adobe XD, which greatly improved my proficiency using this software. I was also given the responsibility of leading client interviews via Zoom, where we would walk through the prototypes and synthesise clients’ feedback. Following this, I helped to run an ideation session focusing on pain points faced by clients, and then contributed ideas for apps that could help clients to increase their confidence in investments.

 — Coutts & Co
Operations – Improving Cards Processes

Operations – Improving Cards Processes

One of the biggest projects that I worked on was looking at how we could Improve Cards Processes, with a focus on improving the end-to-end client journey. This was a project that I managed on my own, so I enjoyed the responsibility and flexibility that came with that. The initial stages of the project involved information gathering, finding out what all of the different cards processes were, and interviewing the relevant SMEs about pain points in these areas. I came up with some proposals to address these pain points and presented these to key stakeholders, who gave me advice about how I should best take the ideas forward.

 — Coutts & Co
Innovation – Project Voltaire

Innovation – Project Voltaire

A smaller project that I worked on with Innovation was Project Voltaire. I created a marketing poster that could convey some key messages for their product proposal, Vested, which was a workplace pension package. The main challenges here were to be able to clearly communicate the messages in an engaging way whilst also working under a tight time frame of just a few of days from brief to end product. I worked rapidly with innovation, through several iterations and ultimately, this was the final version that was presented to SMEs with good feedback.

Role and Contributions

My name is Jingtong Ng. I worked in Coutts & Co., which is one of the market leaders in the UK’s private banking industry. Coutts prides itself on its reputation for excellent client service. They aim to build lasting partnerships with their clients and deeply understand the different facets of their wealth which in turn, allows them to develop highly personalised financial solutions for clients. With the company being part of the wider NatWest Group, there is great opportunity for strategic alliances with NatWest Group subsidiaries.

My role was a Design Engineer within the Change division of Private Banking Services, Banking and Lending. This division was responsible for the innovation of the bank’s new and existing products and services. My contributions could be measured through physical metrics such as saving time and effort for the business as well as broader contributions like introducing new practices and initiatives.

  • Introducing Design Thinking Methodology – Being given the authority to run weekly Design Thinking workshops showed that the company really valued my design specific skillset. The workshops were popular and there was a good indication that they would make a significant impact to the way that the employees would approach problem solving in the future.
  • Process Optimisation – Leading a solo project in Operations helped me to gain experience researching and interacting with senior stakeholders. I helped the bank to optimise their cards processes which would help to save time for employees as well as clients, and create a better experience for both parties. I learned about the many components that must come together to meet SLAs, not only on the technical side, but also with customer satisfaction.
  • Adobe Suite for Prototyping – The bank does not widely use the Adobe Suite as a tool for prototyping, but I suggested its use for several projects as an effective way of creating engaging visual material. My UI prototypes helped several departments that I worked with to see the value that the Adobe suite could bring to projects and consider the use of it to enhance their own work in the future.
  • Marketing – In Project Voltaire, I helped to create a digital poster using my design skills and Adobe Photoshop. Another marketing project that I worked on was an instructional video that was sent out to clients to teach them how to use their mobile phones as authentication devices. Both of these projects helped me to learn about effective ways to communicate information in an engaging yet concise way.

Summary

During my placement, I have really enjoyed seeing how Coutts is shifting towards a more Agile way of working and how the skills that we have acquired from our Design Engineering course have aligned with this. You have the opportunity to network with individuals with a broad range of skills and expertise, therefore I would encourage any DE3 students who are interested in working for a larger company, that is a supportive of personal growth, to apply for this placement.

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