As a business in the financial services industry, you have to navigate a range of sector-specific challenges that make it difficult to meet current user expectations with technology. This article will explain why a bespoke development project is often the most effective way to solve those challenges, and provide guidance on how to approach such a project.

For a long time, apprehension towards cyber security and data protection, alongside challenges with decades-old legacy systems, meant that many businesses in the financial services sector were a bit behind the technology curve. Banks and other financial services companies weren’t typically known for their impressive websites or sleek digital processes, at least not until fairly recently. Those days are long gone now, though, as digital transformation and technology-driven innovation have changed the financial services industry forever. 

Today, both your clients and employees alike expect a seamless digital experience when interacting with your services and processes. And meeting these expectations has become increasingly important over the past 10 years or so, as the more traditional finance businesses have faced disruption from trends like FinTech and digital banking. 

But whether you’re a long-standing financial institution, or an early-stage FinTech start-up, there’s a common priority among businesses in this industry – you simply must keep up with the pace of technology in order to stay relevant with your customers and maintain your competitive edge.

Changing Demands from Your Audience of End-Users 

The technology trends we’ve highlighted there will have caused you to shift large parts of your business model online over the past few years. Consequently, that will have created a range of new challenges for you.


Whatever services or products you provide, your clients now expect the same convenient, effortless experience they’re used to with the technology they use on their smartphones every day.  

When interacting with businesses, most people want to be able to do everything for themselves online, ideally without having to interact with a sales-person or customer service rep. If you can’t enable this self-service in a simple and efficient way, your customers will be left frustrated. 

Cyber Security and Data Protection

The amount of data passing through your business is mind-blowing. All that data can be placed at risk if any technology attached to your corporate network is not secure. When you’re working with such highly sensitive financial data and strict industry regulations, all your technology must be highly secure.

Responsive Design 

Your digital systems need to be highly intuitive, dynamic, and, perhaps most importantly, simple and easy-to-use. That should ideally be the case for all systems, both client-facing and internal. 

User Retention 

If your current website feels clunky, unintuitive, or difficult to navigate, your clients will not hesitate to go elsewhere. While that may have been acceptable with cumbersome legacy systems in the financial services market 20 years ago, it’s simply not an option today.

People will leave a company’s website forever after one poor experience. This demonstrates just how important an excellent user experience (UX) is in retaining your user base.

Similarly, with internal systems like staff training portals or corporate knowledge bases, a poor UX will stifle adoption and usage of the technology. In turn, that will have a negative impact on your return on investment (ROI). 

Using Bespoke Development to Overcome Business Challenges 

In order to break down those barriers and overcome those challenges, many of the leading financial services companies have developed websites that are entirely bespoke. 

Modern enterprise systems need to be dynamic, intuitive, and user-centric. Delivering on all those attributes often requires bespoke development, especially in an industry as nuanced and complex as financial services. 

Your customers, partners, and clients must be able to interact with your services and access their data online, from anywhere, at any time. Not only that, but they also expect personalised content, tailored to their specific needs or challenges, at every stage of their user journey. 

For that reason, it’s often necessary to take the route of a bespoke development project to ensure that your business gains exactly what it needs – and that your users get exactly what they want – in terms of both functionality and capability. 

This covers all the possibilities and ensures your digital presence is tailored to your specific business objectives, the preferences of your users, and unique requirements, including:

  • A bespoke website that differentiates you from your competitors
  • An online portal, either for training internal users or providing a more engaging experience for your clients
  • A new platform that can better integrate with your legacy systems
  • A new content management system (CMS) that can provide greater flexibility and scalability 
  • A way to transform time-consuming, inefficient manual processes into a unique, easy-to-use digital tool.

Whatever it is your business requires, you can follow the simple, proven process outlined below to ensure your investment in new technology is a successful one.

How to Approach a Bespoke Development Project for a Financial Services Business 

Understand the Purpose of What You’re Building

The first thing you need to do is reach a clear understanding of exactly what you’re trying to achieve with your website. Whatever you’re looking to build, it should align with, and support, your company’s strategic business objectives. 

It should also meet a specific need or solve a specific challenge for the users it’s aimed at. This will help you begin to determine exactly what you need in terms of design, usability, and any other bespoke functionality. 

Define Your Requirements in a Project Brief 

A brief is a simple written document that lists all the key ideas and details you think are relevant to the website or platform you’re looking to build. Use this to list all your functional and non-functional requirements, as that will make the project as clear as possible for the design and development agencies you speak to. 

Try to be as specific as possible to give yourself the best chance of having the project delivered on time, within your budget, and to your bespoke specifications. Without that specificity, you’ll likely be disappointed and could even end up drastically over-spending.

For a comprehensive guide to creating a brief that will set you up for a successful web design and development project, read our useful article here

Evaluate Your Technology Options 

In most cases, you’ll use a content management system (CMS) to build your bespoke site. This is a type of software-based platform that allows you to create, edit, and publish digital content across a range of online channels and devices.

Every bespoke development project will be different, so you should aim to select the CMS that best aligns with your objectives, requirements, budget, and other factors.

For example, WordPress is fast-becoming the platform of choice for many forward-thinking financial services businesses, because of the flexibility and fast time-to-market it offers.

To learn more  about how to understand and evaluate the enterprise CMS options for bespoke development, read our helpful related article here.

Find and Select an Agency Partner 

Building, managing, and maintaining a high-performance website in the current technology landscape can be very complex. It requires a wealth of expertise and experience, and also takes time. For that reason, the vast majority of businesses work with a web design and development agency to bring their vision to life. 

The choice you make about which agency to partner with will have a significant influence on the success or failure of your project, so approach this decision with a great deal of care. 

When you’re dealing with such a high volume of sensitive financial data, you must find an agency that understands and respects the critical nature of the work they’ll deliver for you. 

You should consider the following qualities as non-negotiable for your an agency: 

  • Proven financial services sector experience and success 
  • A strong track record with complex bespoke development projects 
  • A long-term partner who can advise and guide you to make the correct decisions
  • Certifications and accreditations 
  • Compliance with financial services industry regulations
  • Secure hosting, with back-up, disaster recovery, and risk mitigation plans
  • Security built into the core of every project 
  • Automated monitoring, maintenance, and support services
  • Ongoing updates and optimisation for your platform
  • Training and learning to help you gain maximum value from your investment. 

What Are the Key Components of a Successful Bespoke Development Project in the Financial Services Sector?

There are some key components of a web development project that you can specifically include in your requirements before you speak to any agencies. These will ensure you minimise your risks and mitigate potential problems, both during and after the delivery of the project. 

You should use these as criteria when assessing your agencies and your technology platform, as they should all be non-negotiable for any business in the financial services sector.

Hosting and Performance 

Hosting refers to the physical and virtual data centres used to house your website. It’s crucial to ensure your site will be hosted in a secure environment, with an experienced, trustworthy provider, because this will have a significant influence on things like security and performance. You’re likely expecting to deal with a high volume of data and a large audience of users, so it’s crucial to ensure your website or platform can handle that. 

Enterprise-Grade Security 

Security is not an after-thought, it’s a critical priority. From your choice of hosting services, to your data back-up and disaster recovery, right through to the frequent testing of your live site. Always place this at the very top of your list of questions when speaking to an agency or a technology provider about developing something bespoke.


Providing your users with personalised services and content is another crucial capability for modern financial services companies, but not all platforms can facilitate this. 

In order to ensure your end-users are having their experiences tailored to each individual, some bespoke functionality could be necessary.

Scalability and Multi-Site Development

As business growth is likely one of your key strategic objectives, your site must be able to support that. A scalable platform will allow you to seamlessly expand your online presence as your business grows and your needs change. 

Integration with Back-End Systems 

Like most financial services companies, your corporate network probably includes a variety of old and new systems and applications across all your different departments. If you’re going to have something new developed, you’ll need to build it on a technology platform that can seamlessly integrate with all those relevant systems. 


Whether or not a technology solution is a good investment or a bad one often depends on how easy it is to use, both for your team internally and your end-users. Usability is a key criteria 


One of the great advantages of developing a bespoke site is that you can continue to iterate and improve it based on user feedback. However, you’ll want to ensure you’re able to do so quickly and efficiently. 

Working with an agency, and a technology platform, that enables a fast time-to-market with your development projects is an important part of the process in terms of achieving positive ROI.

Ongoing Development and Optimisation

Following on from the previous point, your web development project shouldn’t stop at the delivery and deployment of your solution. Once your site is live, measure and analyse its adoption and usage. You can use that feedback to continue optimising its capabilities and functionality for the best possible results.

The Business Benefits of Bespoke Development  

While technology does create its fair share of challenges for businesses that are unprepared or unwilling to adapt, it also presents a vast range of opportunities to those who embrace it. 

A bespoke development project delivers something entirely unique and specific to your business, giving you a range of benefits and advantages, including: 

  • Improving your internal UX, creating greater operational efficiency
  • Improving your external UX, providing more convenient, intuitive services to customers 
  • Streamlining mission-critical processes to reduce costs 
  • Building enterprise-grade security into the core of your systems
  • Enabling real-time interactions with data 
  • Increasing customer retention and loyalty 
  • Achieving competitive differentiation
  • Accelerating business growth. 

In Summary

Financial services has always been a highly competitive industry, but with recent technology trends and changing consumer behaviour, it’s now more important than ever to have a strong, user-centric digital presence.

Not only do your clients and partners demand their data be handled in a secure, compliant way, they also expect a seamless, consumer-grade performance from all digital processes and services they use. Unexpected down-time, poor UX, or any similar frustrations will leave your customers unsatisfied and may put their loyalty in question.

In order to avoid these challenges and minimise your risks, it’s important to find the right agency, with the right technology, to create a website tailored to meet your strategic objectives and exceed your clients’ expectations.

To learn more, read our comprehensive guide to understanding and evaluating the enterprise options for bespoke development here.

Discover how global private equity advisory firm, Rede Partners LLP, transformed a time-consuming manual process into a game-changing client-facing online portal here.

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    Profile picture of Sam Phillips - Technical Director.
    By Sam Phillips
    Technical Director
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