Financial accessibility: new European legislation
The 19th May marked the 11th Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) around the world, as Europe prepares for new legislation that has come into effect under the European Accessibility Act (EAA).
On 28th June 2022, European Union (EU) member states had to create and outline their own digital accessibility law, and apply it by 28th June 2025. This change is an important milestone for digital accessibility and a strategic opportunity for European markets to attract and engage more actively with an estimated 135 million individuals in Europe who live with a disability. This overwhelming demand for stronger accessibility doesn’t stop there.
Widening and evolving investor demographics
As mandated regulation increases expectations on EU members to protect investor needs, the investor landscape itself is quietly reshaping due to population transformation. With more conditions, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Dyslexia, being correctly identified and diagnosed, due to increased awareness and screening, demand for accessibility in younger generations is rising. But despite media attention on millennial and next-generation ‘disruptors’ through more immediate trends, increased life expectancy and declining birth rates in Europe is increasing the median age of Europe’s population. Nearly 30% of people in the age category 55-64 report a disability, with the incidence of disability increasing as people live longer in their later years. As this change evolves, inclusive design practice must address the contextual and ever-changing needs of vulnerable savers and those experiencing functional limitations, with many already digitally connected and engaged across social media platforms. This will shift much of our focus towards digital experience and retention of older investors. With that in mind, what steps should organisations be taking in preparation for 2025 to continuously deliver outstanding investor experiences across generational users?
Practical steps forward
Digital inclusion goes beyond a checklist and disclosure statement policy. Primarily, it’s about user interaction. Four core experiences that firms should empathetically build into their design practice include:
- Physical experience – all user movement as part of the interaction.
- Cognitive experience – time to digest and understand content.
- Auditory experience – sound quality, with alternative option experiences.
- Visual experience – colour contrasting/fonts, column structuring and logical ordering.
Accessible design for cross-border investing involves hours of work and effort to adapt formats and channels appropriately across language jurisdictions. Integrating universal design principles from the beginning of a project is less costly and complicated than attempting to adapt post-live products. Furthermore, prototypes across all media – chatbots, websites, apps, video, print and email – should contain inclusive functionality, and wider test groups will help to capture real-life user experiences without biased or pre-determined outcomes. Finally, designs should be balanced with a blend of human and artificial intelligence as more robotic concepts deliver authenticity in the future, to assist users in a variety of ways.
Overall, design concepts should be as much about connecting investor journeys as they are about making individual touchpoints accessible. A single Customer Communication Management (CCM) platform, integrating multiple data sources, offers greater personalisation and, therefore, a higher opportunity for inclusion. Ultimately, this will create stronger outcomes across the diverse needs of everyday investors in Europe and support investment providers, ensuring they comply with changing legislation.
Client Relationship Director for the Asset, Wealth & Pensions Division of Paragon Customer Communications.