Building Freetrade

Meet the team: Caitlin Rich, Principal Product Designer

Freetrade Team

June 1, 2020

Freetrade Team

Meet the person responsible for making Freetrade look cool

What attracted you to Freetrade?

A friend of mine introduced me to Freetrade when they were running their first crowdfunding campaign. I was really interested in the product as I had previously explored investing, although had been turned off due to the high fees and minimum amounts required to get started. I wanted to learn, though didn't know how to get started without putting a chunk of my savings at risk while I was figuring out what to do.

That is what really attracted me to working at Freetrade, and why I'm passionate about what the company is doing. Investing should be accessible to everyone, no matter how much experience they have or capital they are willing to risk. Especially in this current climate where interest rates on savings accounts are so low. I was able to start with just £100 until I built up my confidence and knowledge on how to read and follow the market. I really want to encourage people to start developing these skills when they are younger and to also stop investing from being such a boys club.

One of my favourite things about being a product designer is that you have to really skill up in the subject matter your working on in order to present it back to the customer in a simple and elegant way. I've learned a lot about investing and really want to help those who are newer to it skill up through our app.

What are the key design opportunities at Freetrade?

I really love the influence I have over the shape of the product. The app is established enough to have a decent design system in place and guidelines on what design pattern or interactions should be used in different scenarios, although it is not at a stage where it is too rigid either.

The direction of design and the processes we have are still fluid. You can push the boundaries and try new, creative ideas, which I find are really encouraged. There is a lot of passion for good design across the company, and everyone understands the value that design brings to the product.

The company is growing and evolving rapidly, and how product design fits into this is as well. We have really talented and creative designers working alongside marketing, though product design is still finding its feet.

We're currently building a team from the ground up that can complement each other to ensure we're providing the right level of support for our engineers, as well as spending the right amount of time with our customers to really understand what makes them tick.

There is a lot we want to improve on, from both a design and process point of view, so it is awesome to have the influence to shape this during these early days.

What makes Freetrade's design and product process unique?

For me it is how integrated my teams members are throughout the design process. I have a great relationship with the product managers and I really like that we work on problems and new features together rather than design just receiving a brief of what is required.

We pull in whoever we need to to make the right decisions, such as engineers, data scientists, senior leadership or customer operations.

We also put our customers at the heart of every problem we are trying to solve. Investing can be complex, and we aim to simplify it the best we can. We have a fantastic and really involved community who we learn a lot from as well as a beta group we use to test out ideas while we're still at the concept stage or when we've just built a new feature. Their feedback is honest and really valuable in creating slick simple experiences that go into the right level of detail.

Which features excite you the most?

I've spent today testing out one of the newest features I've designed that is soon to be with our customers which will allow top-ups to their account using open banking.

I'm really excited to have this in our customers hands as there is so much that can potentially go wrong with transferring funds manually. If the reference number isn't quite right, or you forget which account you linked, we can't always match the transaction. This can be an awful experience for a customer, though with this feature you will just have to accept the transaction in your bank’s app and, voila! Your money is in.

I'm also currently working on some new features to go into the "Insights" tab on the app. We have so many ideas on how to better track the performance of your portfolio, so I'm really excited that we are starting to add some of these in.

What are the main challenges you see ahead?

We recently reached 200,000 users, which is incredible, and there are still so many people who I think are underrepresented here.

We've been focused on setting in place a good list of features that support more experienced investors, however I think there is a lot to do in order for us to achieve our mission of making investing accessible to everyone.

We need to educate those who are newer to investing, such as provide more support for them on how to find their first investments, on how to analyse and understand their performance, and to help them build and structure their portfolio.

I think when we start to remove this barrier to entry we'll be able to attract more people to try investing who may have been too intimidated before.

What were you doing before Freetrade?

After completing a Graphic Design degree, I started as a junior graphic and web designer for a small design agency back in Sydney, Australia.

I started off designing and building a lot of Flash websites for clients, however, when the iPhone came out in 2008 it pretty much made Flash sites obsolete. Our clients started switching to dedicated mobile websites and eventually, apps and I became obsessed with how quickly the industry was moving due to the rise of smartphones.

After a couple of years with the agency, I switched into an in-house role with Getty Images supporting them on everything from web experiences, event branding, video, and social media campaigns.

While I was there, I had heard of an old classmate from university moving into 'Product Design' or 'UX Design'. I was intrigued, and applied and was accepted onto a Product Design course with Tractor Design School. Unfortunately, they are not around anymore, though the course was taught by really talented UX, product, and design specialists who would teach out of their offices and then set assignments that you had to present back to them. I learned a lot and ended up topping the class, which really made me want to specialise in product design.

How did the London move happen?

An opportunity popped up with Getty Images to move to London, which I took as I always wanted to experience working overseas. However, I was blown away by the startup scene in this city, and not long after moved to a small, early-stage startup in the virtual reality space as their first product designer. I worked with a small team of developers to get a 360˚ video content editor up and running from scratch.

I found VR interesting, though I became rather obsessed by the emerging Fintech space, and ended up moving on to become the Head of Design at Tide Business Banking. It was an incredible experience to be embedded in a company that was scaling up very quickly. I developed the design team and supported the company through a rebrand and subsequent major design update to their app alongside a bunch of new features. I learned so much in this role and it also really cemented my love of Fintech.

After Tide, I began contracting to really explore what style of working, industry, and company structure fitted best for me. I contracted for other fintech startups; some small, some more established, and also more corporate companies in other industries. I really found where my skillset added the most value, and when I saw that Freetrade was looking for a Principal Product Designer, the company ticked all the right boxes for me.

What was the first thing you invested in on Freetrade?

I wish it was something a lot cooler, though the first thing I bought was a share of theVanguard FTSE 100 UCITS ETF GBP.

When you invest, your capital is at risk. The value of your portfolio can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest.

This should not be read as personal investment advice and individual investors should make their own decisions or seek independent advice. This article has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is considered a marketing communication.

Freetrade is a trading name of Freetrade Limited, which is a member firm of the London Stock Exchange and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England and Wales (no. 09797821).

The views expressed above are those of community members and do not reflect the views of Freetrade. It is not investment advice and we always encourage you to do your own research.

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