How Web Accessibility Can Create Competitive Advantages in Finance

This article will answer your burning questions about accessibility and help you ensure your website is accessible as possible for all potential users.

Technology-specific challenges, like making sure your website is compliant with web accessibility regulations, can be frustrating for businesses in complex industries like financial services.

This article will answer your burning questions about accessibility and help you ensure your website is accessible as possible for all potential users.

Technology Trends and Challenges for Financial Services

We’ve seen some rapid advances made with technology over the past decade, and these have caused a lot of change in the financial services sector. And that change has only been accelerated further as your customers’ expectations have evolved in line with consumer technology trends, and forward-thinking start-up businesses have disrupted the market.

When so much change happens in such a heavily regulated industry, naturally you’ll encounter some new challenges.

Regulations and Compliance

With more technology and more digital processes, we face more regulations. Challenges and risks with compliance have become more complex in recent years as new, technology-specific legislation has been introduced. For example, becoming compliant with web accessibility standards is now a legal obligation, which we’ll explain in more detail later in this article.

Keeping track of all your current compliance priorities is difficult enough, but with technology you also need to keep one eye on the rapidly-emerging regulations of the future.

Online Searching and Website Use

Competition in the financial services sector has intensified as technology has become more sophisticated. With so many options, customers today want to conduct their own research online when evaluating the vast number of services and products available to them. This is typically done via a Google search, so it’s essential to ensure your website is ranking highly in search engine results pages (SERPs), and that it effectively communicates your value proposition.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) should be a priority, alongside clear, impactful messaging. Your website must also provide visitors with an excellent user experience (UX), to help you retain them and convert them into customers.


Not only do your customers want to research and select your brand themselves, most of them also want to complete their registration process and begin using your services online without interacting with another person.

If you can’t provide this kind of self-service in a simple, convenient way, most of your website visitors will prefer to find one of your competitors who can. This will also be the case if the self-service processes you’ve created are difficult to follow or inefficient.

Responsive Design

It’s no longer good enough to settle for the bare minimum of a clunky, static website with out-of-date content. Without a cutting-edge website and an attractive digital brand, you’ll alienate your customers.

Today’s users demand intuitive, personalised digital tools and services when interacting with brands. Particularly when they’re accessing sensitive financial information, they want to feel like they’re in complete control. These days, that often means delivering your digital services in a responsive design, with many people now preferring to use their smartphones to carry out these kinds of processes.

Overcoming Tech Challenges Creates Opportunities

Of course, if you’re able to embrace digital transformation and embrace these challenges, you can turn them into opportunities to improve your relationship with your target audience and gain advantages over competitors.

By taking a more user-centric approach to your website, and providing a better UX with your digital services, you’ll begin to deliver on modern customer expectations and set yourself on the path to business growth.

One important step to take in achieving that is by working hard to gain a better understanding of web accessibility, and implementing it in all your technology. This is an area in which most financial services businesses are still struggling to meet requirements.

Let’s explore this in more detail.

The Important Role of Web Accessibility

Web accessibility refers to a set of standards, principles, and practices designed to help as many people as possible use websites and other digital services, irrespective of their physical ability, condition, location, or circumstances.

Primarily, this is intended to help people with impaired vision or hearing, motor difficulties, learning difficulties, cognitive disabilities, speech disabilities, or physical disabilities. But it does have the best interests of all users at heart.

For an official definition, the Word Wide Web Consortium (W3C) explains it as follows:

“Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. More specifically, people can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the web and contribute to the web.”

Every business or organisation with a website should be working hard on accessibility in 2023. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports over 1,000,000,000 people in the world live with some form of disability. That’s before even considering the thousands of people who face difficulties when using technology for reasons like losing their ability to read small text on a digital screen.

If your website isn’t optimised to be as accessible as possible, you’re simultaneously contributing to the problem of those people having a negative experience with technology while also losing their business.

As a financial services business, you operate in one of the biggest sectors in the world, and provide essential services that many people with disabilities and other difficulties need access to. Whether we’re considering retail banking customers or the workforce of a global investment bank, all technology needs to be accessible and easy-to-use for everyone.

By improving accessibility, you’ll also improve your UX, enabling more people to interact with your services online. This will only result in positive outcomes.

Legal Requirements for Financial Services Organisations

In addition to this moral obligation to make your website more accessible for everyone, there are more regulations and legal obligations being put in place for businesses as well.

As with GDPR and other regulations, web accessibility is overseen by a governing body. The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) governs accessibility online, using the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Web accessibility in the UK is covered under the Equality Act 2010, which protects all individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair, more equal society. Businesses in the financial services sector are legally obligated to ensure websites and other digital services comply with the WCAG.

You’re therefore required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to make your sites accessible to people with disabilities, and anticipate the needs of potential disabled customers to do so. It’s possible that you could face legal action and penalties if your websites are found to be inaccessible.

How to Make Your Website More Accessible

To ensure you’re compliant with the WCAG, all your websites’ design, structure, and content must be as clear and simple as possible. They must also be compatible with various adjustments or assistive technologies certain people need to use, such as screen readers.

More specifically, the most recent iteration of the WCAG lists four key principles that are required for a website to be considered accessible for all users. These are:

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust

One of the most effective ways to ensure your website is accessible is to test it with a relevant audience. This is particularly useful when approaching the above-mentioned challenge of anticipating the needs of potential disabled customers.

Reach out to customers with real disabilities, as well as a wide range of accessibility needs, and conduct one-to-one testing sessions with these users. Gather their feedback to identify problems or gaps in your site’s accessibility, and use their advice to fix those issues.

Another option is to work alongside a specialist partner with experience in accessibility, who can provide you with professional guidance. It’s also highly beneficial to use a content management system (CMS) that incorporates web accessibility into its functionality, like WordPress. WordPress provides a great deal of in-built support for web accessibility that will make this process far easier for you.

Either way, it’s important to realise that simply being compliant with the guidelines won’t be enough. You need to find ways to integrate genuine empathy for the real-life challenges disabled people face into the design of your technology.

The Benefits of Web Accessibility

Really, investing time and effort into web accessibility should be an obvious choice for businesses by now. It’s difficult to produce an argument against creating a fair, equal experience online for everyone. After all, creating a positive UX for your online customers should be a top priority for your business.

But it’s important to realise that becoming more accessible is an ongoing learning process.
Our business technology is still evolving so quickly, and accessibility requirements will change with it. Keeping up with all the latest trends and regulations is a significant challenge, without even mentioning the need to constantly test and update your website.

To ensure your business can get – and stay – ahead of the curve, it could be beneficial to seek specialist support in the areas of UX design and web accessibility.

You learn more about accessibility by reading our free eBook, The Market’s Guide to Web Accessibility: Making Technology More Accessible in the Private and Public Sectors.

Written in collaboration with UX consultants Web Usability, this guide explores the topic in great detail and provides a wealth of tips to make your website, mobile app, and other various digital services fully accessible.

If you’d like to learn more about accessibility and the requirements in relation to both the public and private sectors, click the link at the bottom of the page to download our complete guide or click here to find out more.

Before you go, why not connect with our CEO Oliver Morrison or our CTO Paul Halfpenny on LinkedIn and follow our company page for day to day updates.

Enterprise Series

FREE eBook – The Marketer’s Guide to Web Accessibility

Our newly published eBook answers the most commonly asked questions about web accessibility, and also provides guidance that will help you make your own website more accessible for your visitors.

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