BMO Smartfolio

Streamlining Investment with Expert Management, Low Fees, and Hands-Off Convenience


BMO Bank of Montreal


User Research

We discovered that young, novice investors wanted to invest digitally, without talking to a human. In 2016 fintech startup Wealthsimple is also making waves with their user-friendly offering. When we show initial mockups, we find that traditional investing terms like “Unrealized gain/loss” are confusing to someone new to investing.  


The target investor is a young professional without a lot of investing experience. They want a completely digital experience without talking to a human. The Journey is to sign up, assess their time horizon (when they need the money), and risk tolerance, and then allow them to add funds to the account. 

Design Process and Iteration

The design was kept simple and airy. What changed the most was the wording. Simplifying investment terms, risk questions, and using a human tone were the largest changes over the process. 

Usability Testing

User interviews and A/B usability testing were used to find the best flow and remove friction from the process. User testing was moderated and recorded. Feedback was prioritized so that the highest value insights were actioned. 



The final solution was an onboarding process that included collecting personal information, a risk questionnaire that assigned an appropriate portfolio. Documents were generated and the client signed with an E-Signature. Once complete there were multiple ways to fund the account. Within a few days, you could see a simple view of your investments including performance, holdings, and transactions.

Challenges and Learnings

The biggest learning was that the onboarding process was larger and more technically challenging to build than the rest of the application. In retrospect, I would have had a PDF application to start so that we could launch earlier. Building on top of legacy systems was both a blessing and a curse. While they were difficult to modify, they allowed us to move more quickly than if we had to build everything from scratch. 

Future Improvements

Over time, the SmartFolio product made improvements to allow more types of accounts, easier money movement, and less operational overhead.


The goal of creating an investing platform that was easy to use for the novice investor was a success. We launched the MVP in just 5 months, which is a great achievement. 

Other work