The rise of Chief Behavioural Officer and how to hack customers’ mind

Financial Services has traditionally been a game of numbers, aggressive product (mis)selling, big bonuses and as a result too many “too big to fail”s. The rise of regulations and technology innovation within the industry has resulted in a course correction. The customer is now getting some attention. And more recently customers’ behaviour is.

Applying behavioural sciences to study how customers make their financial decisions has seen some recent traction. It is critical to bring together cognitive biases and behavioural anomalies and understand how these affect financial decisions. Add to that the impact these financial decisions have on an organisation’s PnL. An executive in a bank capable of doing that would be an ideal fit to as the Chief Behavioural Officer.

The rise of Fintech was accompanied and facilitated by the rise of friendly customer journeys. Today I spend so much, not realising how much money has gone out of my bank account with just a touch. The process is so frictionless that, the act of paying someone is invisible. When it is out of sight, it is out of mind. That’s the simplest way to make people spend more.

That is an example of how an existing process has been made less of a touchpoint. Recently, Merill Lynch conducted an experiment where they asked users to upload their photos. They would run a program to show what the users would look like in 30-40 years. That made the users more conscious of their retirement planning, and shifted their financial behaviour.

Another instance is where the Commonwealth bank of Australia launched an app for customers to set goals. The tool prompts customers to set personalised savings goals and breaks them down to smaller milestones. Since February 2019, users have created more than 250,000 savings goals – 27% of the goals being towards a holiday and 19% towards a property.

Human beings are irrational when it comes to financial decisions. An understanding of behavioural sciences is not just important to win over customers. It is critical to understand the biases that affect existing business decisions that are made within a firm. Leading valuations expert Ashwath Damodaran calls for the need to study these biases as much as the valuation principles used within investment banks.

All valuations are contaminated by bias, because we, as human beings, bring in ourpreconceptions and priors into the valuations. When you are paid to do valuations, that bias multiplies and in some cases, drowns out the purpose of valuation

Professor Ashwath Damodaran

We (my firm Green Shores Capital), recently did an event to identify top financial inclusion firms to invest/track for investments. One of the firms Confirmu, based out of Israel, study the psychological responses from a potential borrower to assess if they were trust worthy or not.

It is one thing going through the borrowers bank account, business plan and reasons for the loan. While all that could be genuine, a borrower might still not have a genuine intention to repay. Especially in countries where there are no credit bureaus, a system to predict the future behaviour of a borrower could be very handy.

While there are several tools to assess the ability to repay, there are very few to assess the intention to repay a loan.

Confirmu’s customer journey takes the users through a chat process, where the customers answer a few basic lifestyle questions, then choose their favourite between a bunch of images, and finally leave a voice answer to a question. Their machine learning powered algorithm gives a rating indicating the customer’s intention to repay.

Banks have started to focus on technology much more than they have ever done. However, as Steve Jobs puts it – ” it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing”


Arunkumar Krishnakumar is a Venture Capital investor at Green Shores Capital focusing on Inclusion and a podcast host.

I have no positions or commercial relationships with the companies or people mentioned. I am not receiving compensation for this post.

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Digitizing employee benefits towards Goal-based investing: the case of Moola.(JLT)

Gemma

Call it a hidden bias, or coincidence, the fact is that I have mentioned Moo.la the UK `robo` in three posts over the past 3 years. Gemma Godfrey, CEO and founder, is an ex-Goldman Sachs personality who was in the City A.M.’s Power 100 list the 2017  and was also chosen to join Arnold Schwarzenegger advisory on The Celebrity Apprentice (alongside Jessica Alba, Warren Buffett and YouTube celebrity Justine “iJustine” Ezarik).

In early 2016 as I was searching for robo-advisor actual performance, I spotted Moo.la as one of the promising female-led robo advisors along with  Sallie Krawcheck`s Ellevest. Call this another bias? Maybe, since Sallie and Gemma are both ex-Wall Street female leaders with significant investment experience. See here.

In late 2016. Moo.la was already included in the Top50 European Fintechs.

 In Feb 2018, I included Gemma in my monthly `Women and Fintech – The Feb. playlist of 10` for a very explicit reason.  Gemma’s venture was addressing the savings crisis problem in the UK. Her message was loud and clear and based on her belief that the domination of men in finance is a problem that can only be solved by us women becoming raw models for others.

In Spring 2018, Moo.la came across my path again as I met Paul McNamara, the CEO of Evalue, the sophisticated UK financial planning and advice software company. I could not resist sharing on DailyFintech Paul`s excitement on the launch of their API platform and their participation in the 2nd cohort of the FCA with a focus on regulated advice.

Moo.la was one of the Fintech partnership examples with Evalue that I reported. While Moo.la is a savings platform and one that caters to all those that are intimidated from the investment lingo and the confusing product choices; they wanted to offer their clients realistic, visual scenarios for the inexperienced to become comfortable with their investment choices. Evalue offered a piece of mind to Moo.la that behind the scenes, the scenario analysis was as sophisticated as it can get.

On the other hand, Gemma had made a business choice to offer a limited menu of investment choices. Three kinds of investment plans and one additional pure ethical portfolio. There is no `luxury` of customization and the focus is on offering comfort for the pre-designed investment choices. The philosophy behind this, is to focus on the customer experience which is mostly driven by emotional comfort or discomfort (leading to panic when least needed).

Four investment options that are well understood will work wonders for customers versus 44 investment options that are not well understood.

As Moo.la is not an investment advisor, Evalue`s software also makes sure that all is fully compliant. The limited menu also allows Moo.la to keep costs low. Savor Moo.la`s knowledge center with insights and education for all levels in a language that is natural.

Last summer, Moo.la was acquired by JLT Employee Benefits (JLT), one of the UK’s leading employee benefits providers. This acquisition should not be seen as a just another Fintech M&A transaction. It is actually a purposeful strategic ecosystem move, whose success should be measured beyond the dry numbers. First and foremost, Moo.la becomes part of a business (and running also standalone) that is in complete alignment with their philosophy. JLT’s strategy is focused on helping UK businesses deliver better performance through the improved financial, emotional and physical wellness of its people.

This acquisition is at the service of Goal-based investing.

Moo.la will also be integrated in JLT`s Benpal platform. Fintech from an angle of employee benefits in all industries is a great example of sustainable innovation. Robo services that are not just about the low cost but predominately about retentions, engagement and well being of the employees. BENPAL is an evolving next generation rewards and benefits platform that JLT offers its corporate clients. It is designed to help attract, retain, engage and reward the workforce. It allows employers to manage employee reward and benefit program in a digitalized era.

Last week Moo.la won the City of London’s ‘Best Goal-Based Investing Service’. We are already designing the world we have been dreaming of; slowly and steadily. An investment world that is not only about the monthly reports of our investments but also about our progress towards our goals

In this spirit:

Efi-Book-Review paolo1

Book one hour with Efi – Ask me anything (AMA) for 0.10BTC – Efi@dailyfintech.com

Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer.

 I have no positions or commercial relationships with the companies or people mentioned. I am not receiving compensation for this post.