Digital guru and legend in his own mind; Ian Hood has been responsible for creating and driving through delivery of web and mobile experiences for Fidelity International’s UK business. He has now amassed 15 years and counting e-commerce, web design, mobile, online and digital experience across three large financial services corporate companies and one financial services ‘digitally born’ start up.
Supported by a hugely experienced and talented management team and over 60 digital professionals, my responsibilities include the strategic direction of Fidelity UK’s digital arm and delivery of that strategy through various direct and matrix functions: creative and interaction design, content, analytics, product management, technology, channel proposition and marketing.
The responsibility of the team includes everything for our external clients in the direct to consumer, financial advisor, wholesale and workplace investing space. We also support internally across customer experience teams, internal communications teams, HR etc. as an internal service to help those areas with certain skills such as design and visualisation.
My direct teams’ main skillset is understanding our user’s needs by following what’s known in the trade as a User Centred Design (UCD) process, designing, developing, measuring, monitoring and iterating the businesses’ web and mobile experiences continuously to constantly strive to better improve the end user experience, resulting in us driving down the business costs and driving up the business sales and revenues through the online channels.
We’ve only started to tackle these issues in earnest relatively recently as an organisation and therefore there is a long way to go before we get to the standard we aspire to be at in this space. Being a digital function responsible for online experiences, technology and client behaviour, we are evolving all the time so we have to run to keep up in some areas, but that is why my role is so challenging and diverse.
I chose a career in digital because I wanted to progress the size and scale of my role and in my previous profession of insurance underwriting I’d reached as high as I could go. I could see the internet was going to be a dominant force in consumer and business life and therefore jumped at the chance to learn and develop this new area back in 2001.
I moved around different organisations over the years in order to gain different perspectives. However, I always stayed in my roles for several years, seeing what I started through before moving on, leaving that team and business in a better position than when I joined with clear direction, measurement, processes and skills – organised to deliver ever better online experiences for the company’s customers.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I get to work on strategy for the whole UK business as part of the executive committee and work with a team of highly motivated, clever and very experienced peers to help run the UK business. I also get to lead and work on the strategy for my own area (where are we heading as a team and where are we leading the business in terms of the future when it comes to web and mobile) as well as design how the team will work and operate, the roles within the team, what the team should be working on – so every element of designing, leading and building a great team!
Creating this allows me to see the delivery of that strategy through the unique skills my various team members possess. They deliver a lot of great improvements for our clients and when you see nice feedback coming in and the dial moves in the right direction after improvements your team has made, this gives a real sense of achievement and pride that you have impacted someone’s experience of your brand and business in such a positive way.
What are the current challenges the industry faces?
The challenge I am closest to in my role is changing consumer behaviour and advancements in technology. Customer expectation of brands is increasing all the time with regards to how they choose to access a brand’s services through multiple devices and browsers. This means we have to be externally focused and close to how our clients interact with us, what they want from us and also inventing new innovative products and services on behalf of our clients.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?
Digital in the finance industry is a creative, diverse and ever changing career. It’s an in demand area for virtually every business in virtually every sector in virtually every country and region – many of my team have moved into asset management and financial services from other sectors. It’s a secure career for a long time to come and one where you can change sectors quite easily too so I’d highly recommend it as a career.
Check out the various college courses and degree courses in the space of e-commerce, design, interaction design, human computer interaction and technology then join either a small agency or client side in a business either through a graduate programme, internship or as a trainee in your chosen discipline. Work hard, be dedicated, committed, reliable and loyal and you’ll soon be progressing through the ranks!