Historically, financial services companies evolved by offering increasingly broad functionality and varied transactions to their customers. Adding new transactional products and services created a bit of differentiation and drove incremental revenue. Over the past several years, with the roll out of these new products, many successful companies recognized the need to ensure usability and engaging visual design in user interfaces of the digital versions of these products, so they invested in those areas.
These days, there is increasing pressure for continued innovation and differentiation beyond incremental product refinements and a nicely designed screen. Emerging FinTech solutions are competing with larger institutions by offering lean, but empowering solutions that enable consumers to take greater control of their financial wellbeing. Companies in other industries are incorporating financial aspects into their offerings, and consumers are expecting a streamlined experience that consolidates their experience with a company, rather than dealing with different silos.
To compete, financial companies are evolving to think more holistically about supporting customer’s financial lives, not just developing new products and features. Developing products and services around the entirety of a customer’s financial experience has the potential to develop a deeper emotional connection, and strengthen the relationship and trust with a brand.
This has been difficult for financial companies in the past -- there is a lot to overcome. Complex regulations, privacy and security concerns, and large (often disconnected) systems make innovation difficult. The variety of customer knowledge and personal money management habits vary widely. Corporate culture is difficult to shift. Trust of financial companies is low. Finally, we are a culture that doesn’t talk about money, especially personal money habits.
But all of these challenges provide ample opportunity and guide rails for those who think Design can help. Here at Mad*Pow, we draw on extensive experience and foundational research into the psychology and behaviors of financial management. We also embrace prototyping and evaluation to be able to evaluate ideas quickly with consumers. Collectively, design approaches give us the ability to create overall positive financial experiences for the entirety of the customer experience. It’s not about tweaking products, veiled as customer improvements, just to eke incremental revenue.
There is also opportunity to learn from other industries. In particular, we see many similarities between our work with financial companies and our extensive experience with Design in healthcare. There are many crossover points between someone’s physical health and their financial wellbeing. Many triggers, behaviors, and motivators from healthcare are shared in the financial arena. Things that drive people to care about their health often are similar to financial drivers, like valuing family and quality of life. Designing for financial health means designing for good money habits, similar to designing good habit experiences in health.
It is an exciting and dynamic time for financial companies. Innovative, comprehensive experiences have the potential to help people, develop brand loyalty, and provide a point of differentiation in a crowded marketplace. This is why I am so excited about our upcoming Financial Experience Design Conference on Nov. 7 in Boston. I am looking forward to the opportunity to hear from others on how they’ve approached experiential innovation, and how financial services companies can continue to evolve to be customer-centric and design driven.