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What to consider when load testing financial services

27th February 2020

Financial Services applications have critical functions to maintain and need to be reliable. They manage the overall storage of sensitive data, analysis, management and processing of a bunch of financial transactions, as well as data sets and information to deliver a robust platform for the end users.

However, as providers continue to expand into new markets and products, the rise in application complexity – and associated increase in IT load – is driving the need for performance engineering across the testing lifecycle. With trust at the heart of the customer/bank relationship, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Load testing can help manage loads on your most critical systems to ensure performance, scalability and reliability. But the testing process isn’t without potential pitfalls – as was evidenced by the catastrophic system failure experienced by TSB during the bank’s platform migration back in 2018.

Load testing challenges

It’s complicated

This is the biggie. The more complex the application, the more there is to go wrong. Financial services applications are, by their nature, complex, often requiring multiple layers of interaction between customer and interface involving third-party connections. Any load testing solution needs to be able to spot errors in a busy picture.

Sensitive data needs protecting

There’s little point investing in several rounds of testing unless it returns accurate results – which means that you need customer journeys to be as realistic as possible. That said, you’ll need to balance your desire for actionable data with the requirement to ring-fence sensitive client data (not least to satisfy GDPR regulations). It’s difficult to pull off.

Growth simulation is tricky

While big retailers are looking to accommodate seasonal spikes in demand, banks and financial services providers need to ensure that the user experience (UX) is smooth – something that’s hard to guarantee when journeys are far from simple. Factoring in future growth can feel daunting.

Databases are huge

Financial services providers are interfacing with massive databases, updating balance and transaction information as well as interrogating lookup and credit check sources. It’s easy to see how tiny glitches can turn into customer-impacting failures as problems ripple through from back end to front.

Top testing tips for banks and financial services providers

Test everything!

It may be a complicated testing picture – which makes shortcuts a tempting proposition. But, it’s crucial to cover everything, including third party add-ons like address lookups and fraud checks if you’re serious about optimising the UX.

Don’t sidestep the difficult things

Some processes – mortgage applications, for instance – are inherently complex because of the number of steps involved. But it’s worth going the extra mile because these are the areas that have the greatest potential to fail.

Make time for testing

One of the commonest problems we see is that clients haven’t allowed enough time for some essential rounds of load testing, which leaves them trying to pick the least-worst option: a flawed launch or a delayed launch. Factor in enough time for testing, plus a contingency period, in case your results don’t square up to your KPIs.

Keep it real

The more closely the testing matches real-life activity, the more effective it will be. Oversimplifying the testing process risks returning data of questionable use and may render the whole activity pointless.

At thinkTRIBE, we have plenty of experience working with clients on their complex finance systems and helping them grow by implementing proactive testing. We’d love to show you how we could do the same for your business: call us on 01227 768276 for more details or drop us a line at and we’ll get right back to you.