Craig Graue
UX Architect
Made with

Scottrade Rollover Comparison Tool

Helping customers compare options when rolling over 401(k) accounts

Scottrade Rollover Comparison Tool

The Challenge

In 2017, the US Department of Labor passed legislature requiring professionals offering advice on retirement accounts to meet a certain level of fiduciary responsibility. This meant that we needed to quickly build a tool for Scottrade's branch associates to compare a client's 401(k) plan with the company's retirement account options and determine if a rollover was in the client's best interest. While the DOL rule was designed to protect people's retirement assets, it also made things a bit more complicated on the brokerage side.

Our design challenge was to create a tool for our branch associates to use, but the output needed to be a client-facing printout that made the comparisons easy to understand and help clients make decisions about their retirement funds.

Scottrade Rollover Comparison Tool


For most digital products, we build things based on user needs & goals.  However, since this tool was needed as a result of government regulations we had our work cut out for us to build a good user experience.

We met with several retirement associates from our corporate call center as well as branch associates to better understand how the fiduciary rule would affect their client interactions and what was really needed to help visualize the process.  The biggest concern was that it would likely take up to 30 minutes to track down a client's specific 401(k) plan with a general internet search and/or calls to the plan provider.  Branch associates worried that clients may end up frustrated with waiting during that time in the office, providing a poor experience.

We needed to find a way to quickly bring this information to the branch associates and phone consultants in order to provide the best experience to clients while still supporting the DOL fiduciary rule.

Scottrade Rollover Comparison Tool

User Journey

The first thing we did was map out the interactions we needed for the user journey.  Here you see my initial notebook sketch of the journey and process flow.  I began with the user triggers and the DOL requirements to frame what needed to happen.  This eventually led to a more refined version I created in Adobe InDesign after working with internal stakeholders and subject matter experts.

We used the final journey map to drive our wireframes as well as get the development team started with some initial work on setting up the environment.  Scottrade had an existing internal associate tool suite for us to work in, but there were some back end systems that needed to be connected.  The team used the agile methodology so it was very easy to keep designing in parallel to the initial development efforts.

Scottrade Rollover Comparison Tool


As part of the overall solution, we leveraged data from a third-party company that allowed us to quickly search their database of employer 401(k) plans.  However, there was a lot more data available than we or the clients actually needed.  I created a series of wireframes using Adobe Illustrator to cover the initial search page, the results selection page, and the resulting data display.

Once a set of plan data was selected, we displayed a side-by-side comparison of what the client currently had available in their existing 401(k) plan and compared it to retirement solutions available from Scottrade if they decided to do a rollover.  The resulting comparison was converted to a formatted PDF that the branch associate would print out for the client's records.

Prototype & Test

Since we developed the application in an existing tool suite and used an agile approach, we decided to build the screens in the application framework using test data for our clickable prototype rather than creating something separate.  Especially given that the tool was for internal use, it was easy to gather test users to take our new application for a spin and get quick feedback. 

We did a series of user observation sessions to test both the usability of the tool as well as get feedback on the PDF output of the plan comparison.  This allowed us to refine the form design and prioritize specifically what the branch associates and retirement consultants found the most useful in highlighting with their clients.  Once the prototype design was finalized, we were able to simply integrate the third party data source and get the full application up and running in time to meet the regulatory date schedules.

Scottrade Rollover Comparison Tool


This project really highlighted the value of designing and building applications with an agile workflow.  Working side-by-side with the developers and product owners allowed me to quickly iterate on the designs, test them with users, and fine tune all of the interactions. 

Even though the tool was created to meet a regulatory requirement, the branch associates were extremely happy with the result.  What would have taken 30-60 minutes to do manually, we were able to provide a workflow that took 2-3 minutes tops.  Once they found the correct plan in the search results, the associates were able to print out the formatted PDF and walk the client through the comparison seamlessly.