Shut Up & Take My Money … what we’ve been reading this week at Brand Genetics

Say what you will about Millennials — typically labeled the ‘lazy, entitled, self-obsessed’ generation — but as CBInsights recently noted, they are actually more likely to “to have savings goals, manage their debt better, and do a better job of sticking to their budgets” than either Gen X or Baby Boomers at a similar age.

So what’s behind this growing financial interest and independence? It could be motivated by their high rates of student debt and rapidly increasingly living costs, as well as our less than booming economies (cue rants over Brexit and ongoing trade wars between China and the US…)

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But we think technology plays the biggest role — and mobile apps and fintech in particular. A few months ago, we wrote about the future of money, but we wanted to pick back up on the theme and cover 3 additional brands we feel represent some of the most disruptive trends hitting the financial & banking category:

Curve & the new digital wallet — Thanks to the iPhone’s Apple Wallet, the idea of a digital wallet is nothing new. But Curve takes this one step further by not only allowing you to digitally store a range of cards in one place, but also giving you the flexibility to retroactively change the card used on purchases and accumulate cash back. We feel this added functionality is representative of the desire for control, personalisation and flexibility so many people (especially Millennials) crave these days.

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MoneyBox & micro-investing — Financial investing is often assumed to be reserved only for those who make over a certain tier of salary. However, companies like MoneyBox have thankfully emerged to fill the gap for those who want to be financially smart and start saving early but perhaps have felt prevented from doing so due to financial pressures and lower paychecks. Playing up the idea of ‘micro-investing’, apps like MoneyBox (as well as some digital only banks like Monzo) allow you to ‘start with your spare change’ — rounding up everyday purchases like coffees and lunch and putting the difference into savings and investing accounts. The process happens seamlessly, instantly, and most importantly, painlessly (with many not even noticing!) — reducing friction to almost nothing, an essential success factor in our increasingly impatient and anxiety ridden world.

Ellevest & the rise of robo-advisors — Who needs a suited-up portfolio advisor when you have AI and machine learning? Enter the emerging role of Robo-Advisors; automated, algorithm-based investment platforms. The space has been expanding rapidly, with the likes of platforms such as Betterment, Wealthfront and Personal Capital (who even offer ‘hybrid’ robo-human advisors, which sounds like a weird science experiment gone wrong). But of the bunch, we’re most interested in Ellevest, which specifically targets women as part of its mission to ‘close the investing gender gap.’ “Gender differences in pay, career breaks, and lifespan matter,” their website reads, “Our data factors them in.” Simply answer a few questions and their online investing tool will curate a plan tailored to you, which can be adjusted at any time — another great example of hyper-personalization and simplicity at work, AND one with gender equality and empathy at its heart.

The HX learnings?

Money matters — while it should never be the source of our ultimate happiness and satisfaction (and in fact, can’t be, past a certain point), it does play an important role in our lives. Given this, we feel it’s particularly important to encourage good habits and behaviours when it comes to spending and investing, especially among younger generations. We feel the above brands are perfect examples of Positive Innovation in the flesh — smart, effective design that leverages simplicity and accessibility to add real value and drive positive impact.

Liz Thompson is a lead consultant at Brand Genetics, an insight and innovation agency specialising in human-centred insight and innovation. She is an insight-led, human-centric strategist who uses her interest and passion for understanding consumer behaviour to spot new business & innovation opportunities.

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Human-Centered Insight, Innovation and Trends from Brand Genetics www.brandgenetics.com

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