A product designer's review of the Hargreaves Lansdown app

Simon McCade

If I was to define my new year’s resolution for 2018, it’d be to become more organised with my personal finances.

Queue the vast amount of research that led me to make the decision to transfer my ISA from MoneyBox to Bristol-based financial services provider, Hargreaves Lansdown. I also opened a SIPP account with them.

The app and the website played key roles in my decision-making process (I can’t help it, I’m a designer), so here are a few notes as a review of the whole experience, in case you’ve got a similar resolution to do something about this year…

The app

After a recent redesign – well, overhaul – a raft of new features was introduced to the app (available for iPhone and Android). Disappointingly, the tablet version wasn’t part of this process, so it’s mobile-only.

Let’s look at the four areas of the app I think could still do with some work, especially if the tablet app is going to be updated for the purposes of brand consistency:

Logging in

As with many new apps, HL integrated Touch ID into its login functionality. It works very well, in my opinion. There’s scope for Face ID, too, if they update it for the iPhone X.

The downfall of this procedure, though, is in the lack of integration with other apps that help people recall their passwords if they haven’t memorised them, such as 1Password.

If you don’t have Touch ID or prefer not to use it, you have to enter three random characters from your password, which can be a frustrating system if you’ve opted for a long one.

The app could be more accommodating in this way, but perhaps updates are in the pipeline over at HL.

My accounts

The fact that you’re able to see your entire portfolio at a glance is super helpful and makes the app very easy to use and your investments very easy to access.

Clicking into a specific account allows you to see the detail you need in relation to gains and losses over time, but I can’t help but feel that it’s not granular enough. It could do with more filtering options to give you greater control over what you see on-screen.

Charts and technical indicators could be included to bring the accounts to life and take advantage of landscape view in larger smartphones.

Another drawback is that it’s currently not possible to set up monthly savings or move funds between accounts; you have to go online or call HL direct to do so, which isn’t ideal for what should be basic tasks.

It’s also not possible to see broker forecasts, reports or accounts of certain stock and funds, so making smarter decisions on where to invest is made unnecessarily and slightly more difficult.


The app features the ability to organise your favourite investments into folders called Watchlists, which is one of my most-utilised features.

There are a couple of areas that are ripe for improvement here, too. I’d love to see total costs, including gains and losses for each of the Watchlists, and have the kind of organisational functions you have for subfolders as you do for bookmarks on Google Chrome (sub-Watchlists, if you will).

Collaboration with others could also be possible here.

If the app could facilitate shared Watchlists, you’d be able to collaborate on ideas to make smarter investments with your family and friends as well.

There are also a few discrepancies between the app and the website whereby this part of the service is still referred to as ‘Virtual Portfolio’, so that could do with clearing up to avoid confusing users.


HL makes good use of its news section to share its expertise and standing in the market, which I find very useful and informative. Personalisation and accessibility would be key here, though.

There’s currently no ability to filter or select my own sources of news and no features that are catered to those with impaired vision.

There are also no videos and few images to enhance the experience for people. The usefulness of the content would be vastly improved if, along with this, they introduced interlinking and improved bookmarking in the app. There’s too much manual work involved on the part of the reader as it stands.


Overall, there’s a pleasant experience to be had in an app that is this easy to navigate. It’s not difficult to find what you want, but this benefit could be even better with things like more detailed bookmarking. 

From a design perspective, it looks clean and lends itself to a positive brand experience, but not for those with a tablet or those using different parts of the website.

There have been a few disappointed customers who have expressed the same kinds of frustrations I experienced, so it would be no surprise to see the developers and designers rectifying that in future updates.

The management of my personal finances has been improved on the whole thanks to this app, but I think there’s still work to be done on the small things to allow it to appeal to audiences on a bigger scale.

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