Identifying Innovation Opportunities for Personal Financial Management

The Ask 

Like its competitors, our client, a major North American financial services company, is investing heavily in digital channels. One area of focus is personal financial management – helping clients do a better job of saving, spending and managing their day-to-day finances. Previous research showed that consumers often struggle with these tasks - helping them do better would increase customer loyalty. Giving them the right digital tools would also increase engagement and provide our client with rich data sets to inform product and CX decisions.

Design and innovation teams were working on a myriad of initiatives, but senior leadership thought there was a lack of cohesion and efforts were not necessarily being driven by customer needs and values. To help provide the team with guidance, the bank asked Phase 5 to identify key innovation opportunities.

The Approach 

Jobs-to-be done. We proposed a "Jobs-to-be done" (JTBD) approach to generate an understanding of consumers’ personal finance management needs. This methodology is based on the premise that people use products and services to accomplish a task or series of tasks ("jobs"), and focuses on honing in on the outcomes that consumers are seeking at each step of the job. An example outcome could be minimizing the amount of time it takes to track and categorize expenses. Or maximizing the accuracy of monthly cash flow projections.

Once needs are identified this way, the JTBD approach looks at determining which outcomes are most important and which are not well served. Findings important outcomes that are not well served are promising opportunities for innovation.

Innovation Case Study 2 - Approach

Defining the domain. Personal financial management (PFM) is a broad area that encompasses everything from household budgeting, bill payment, short term savings, borrowing and investing. To focus our efforts, we used secondary research to identify PFM areas where consumers were least satisfied. We then convened a stakeholder workshop to identify a shorter list of broad PFM "jobs" that centered on 3 themes: Understanding Your Financial Situation, Planning Your Personal Finances and Saving.

Qualitative insights. We conducted detailed in-person interviews with consumers to understand how they approached specific PFM tasks, identify desired outcomes and surface existing pain points and shortcomings. However, first we had to find the right people. We developed a rigorous recruiting approach that:

  • Identified people who are engaged in the topic
  • Had used formal or information tools and solutions to help them with PFM tasks
  • Were open to digital solutions

Based on 20 in-depth interviews, we identified 29 distinct outcomes that people are looking for when managing their personal finances. We also uncovered important attitudinal and behavioral insights into financial management activities.

Initial solutions. Phase 5 believes strongly in collaborative work with our clients. Our findings workshop from the immersive consumer research helped refine the outcomes and identify general solution areas that could address the client needs uncovered in the consumer interviews.

Prioritizing needs. The last stage in our PFM journey was validating and identifying high priority opportunities for innovation. We conducted a national survey of consumers to:

  • Measure the importance of PFM outcomes
  • Rate satisfaction with each outcome
  • Understand use of existing PFM tools and solutions
  • Gather preliminary feedback on our solution ideas

The Outcome

Our study provided our client with a shortlist of high priority PFM innovation opportunities by uncovering consumer needs that were important, but not being well served by existing tools or approaches.

Innovation Case Study 2 - Outcome

Using the Jobs-To-Be-Done approach provided clear direction to the digital innovation teams so that they could be sure they were focusing on solutions that would meet consumer needs. We also provided detailed recommendations on building a platform on which to address high opportunity PFM needs and a checklist of key do’s and don’ts for solution characteristics based on the insights uncovered.