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Taking a human approach to finance
Our business |Author Sean Brennan
14 March 2018

When you live and breathe something every day it’s easy to lose perspective.

Organisations are not immune to this pitfall. Designers like myself, who are often brought into a company when a traditional approach to product or service development is no longer getting results, see it all the time.

Perspective is important. Particularly in the digital age as consumers become increasingly more informed and, in turn, wary about a company’s motives for selling them something.

A heightened premium is being placed on those businesses that offer products and services that demonstrate a genuine commitment to putting them first.

Human-centred design, or HCD, as it often referred, accommodates these consumer behaviours and expectations by putting people at the very centre of the product and service design process.

"When our leaders at AMP decided to take a fresh approach to the way the company offered financial advice, they recognised the need to seek different views."

Core to the HCD process is, firstly, understanding people’s behaviours, pain points and aspirations. Secondly, working together to understand multiple perspectives. And third, being willing to test new product and service experiences.

Establishing and implementing this approach in large and established organisations like AMP is not easy, and requires strong commitment from the top. But it delivers results.

When our leaders at AMP decided to take a fresh approach to the way the company offered financial advice, they recognised the need to seek different views.

They’d been exploring the field of behavioural economics for some time, which looks at the impacts of social, psychological and emotional factors in making decisions about money – the human, and sometimes irrational, element. So, they knew the power of people’s unpredictability and the value of understanding their perspectives.

Designing Goals 360 

During the inspiration phase of what is now AMP’s flagship advice offering, Goals 360, our Design & Innovation team conducted well over 200 face-to-face conversations with customers and advisers— in their homes, offices and in our own concept environment.

Almost immediately we started seeing a clear delineation between AMP’s perspectives and those of its customers.

What we discovered might seem obvious, but great ideas are often obvious in retrospect. 

In financial services, money is often spoken of in terms of funds, interest rates, risk profiles and returns.

Listening to them at their kitchen tables, our customers  spoke of their finances in terms of holidays, first homes bought and passions pursued. In short, they think in terms of their goals, and are very willing to share them.

We already knew that the best financial advisers have been using goals as a means to connect people to their finances for decades. Our HCD research reinforced this value and helped us design the tools to support a goals-based conversation. 

Goals have since become the anchor point for AMP’s group-wide strategy, informing the development of every customer experience we create.


Sean Brennan is AMP's Head of Design & Innovation.

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