Are you focused on converting branch customers to digital users? Not just once-in-a-while users, but permanent digital users? This should be an initiative of every financial institution. Whether it’s an older customer who has never used online banking before social distancing, or a digital user who adds activity through expanded features, these customers represent opportunities for your institution.
Converting digital users into lasting relationships takes work
Imagine this: your customer is familiar with checking their balance in-app, but not so confident depositing checks. You teach them how easy it is to deposit checks via mobile, and you gain a sticker relationship with them.
Or, a customer loves the ease of mobile deposits, but is not familiar with adding their card to a digital wallet in order to use PayPal or Apple Pay. When they learn to use this feature, they are much more likely to think of your institution as synonymous with digital banking! By helping your customers realize how easy it is to bank digitally, you encourage loyalty, and make the relationship stronger.
So, what are other reasons beyond these more well-known ones you can give digital banking users (especially new ones) to continue to engage with your platform again and again, well after onboarding, and for more reasons than checking an account balance?
SPENDiD Delivers Another Equally Valuable Reason
SPENDiD’s unique and addictive solution helps encourage digital banking usage and loyalty through simple automated budget creation, periodic review of the user's SPENDiD Score for a cash-flow health check-up, or to quickly and easily seek wisdom for “what-if” decision making at life’s milestones such as a move or when considering a major purchase. If the account holder knew that instant feedback was just a few clicks away in your platform, proven behavioral science tells us they will return again and again to satisfy their natural curiosity and get quick answers to life's "cash-flow" questions. Plus, each added "touch" cultivates greater and greater dependency and loyalty. This beneficial impact can be offered simply by the digital banking platform that commits to being "Powered by SPENDiD”.
HR and related industries are on the front lines in America’s fight for financial health, whether they realize it or not. Bradley Swain of the Common Cents Lab at Duke University used a similar opening line in his excellent and prophetic article in the summer of 2018 speaking to this fact. Since then, the global pandemic has only added greater stress for millions of low to middle-income Americans, especially hourly wage earners and “gig-workers” struggling with income volatility, low savings rates, and high personal debt. HR executives have a unique opportunity, and some might say an obligation, to make a positive impact on the financial health of their employees and contractors by leveraging the rapidly advancing technology already available to them...with much more innovation on the way.
Too many HR related product managers don’t seem to appreciate (or use) this power for good. Simple to offer plug-and-play solutions are available already – with ever improving alternatives coming along almost daily. The key to choosing the right one? Here’s our opinion:
Another buzz-phrase for user experience simplicity is “reduced friction.” So get rid of friction, solve a pervasive financial health problem that a large portion of your team struggles with, and you’ve got a potentially successful solution that could make a positive difference in your employees’ lives.
"Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” - Aristotle
I came across an article recently by Dr. Uptal M. Dholakia, Ph.D. at Rice University which should be profoundly important to the financial literacy movement. In it he and his colleagues describe the massive disconnect between extensive financial literacy training (and the dollars thrown at it) and evidence of any real positive downstream outcomes directly correlated to those efforts. They point to a well-cited meta-analysis of 201 studies examining the relationship between financial literacy and downstream financial behaviors. These studies concluded that interventions to improve financial literacy explained just 0.1 percent of the variance in financial behaviors…that’s .001 or 1/1000th. Almost no impact whatsoever.
A large Standard & Poors study concluded that the U.S ranks 14th in the world when measuring the proportion of adults in the country who are financially literate. To put that further into perspective: the U.S. adult financial literacy level, at 57%, is only slightly higher than that of Botswana, whose economy is roughly half the size of Vermont’s.
Other conclusions by Dr. Dholakia include that while financial literacy training is of course important, it will likely never significantly “move the needle” without the presence of another often missing element of financial knowledge, that being a clear sense of financial self-awareness (FSA).
What is financial self-awareness?
FSA is a specific type of knowledge about personal finances that differs from financial literacy. It concerns how well the person knows and understands their financial situation. In Dr. Dholakia’s research (conducted with doctoral candidate Nivriti Chowdhry), they formally define FSA as the “personal knowledge about one’s current financial assets, liabilities, and spending patterns.”
In a nutshell, they found that having a higher FSA (and raising it) is a good thing. They concluded that financial self-awareness is associated with higher financial self-efficacy. This can be defined as a belief by the individual in their ability to handle an important task with greater confidence, and to learn from their prior experiences related to the area they seek to address.
The study reports that a higher degree of self-awareness about one’s finances translates into more certainty about their current strengths and weaknesses, and clarity about what to do next as they move forward to more positive downstream financial outcomes.
Dr. Dholakia’s study goes on to say that improved financial self-awareness is associated with:
In conclusion, their research points out that “once one knows their [financial] situation, they will feel confident in how to maintain and improve it.” Hence the relevance of the quote above by Aristotle: "Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
What’s that old saying...”Misery loves company”? SPENDiD and other early stage fintech companies know very well that a world in the midst of a pandemic is a real kick in the teeth for a startup founder. The recent Forbes article linked here emphasizes this point very well. The key to surviving and even thriving in such a world is agility, and not only having the ability but the willingness to pivot toward delivering best in class solutions to problems that are “fluid”, shall we say.
The unmet needs among millions of US households are clearer now more than ever: financial anxiety, budget illiteracy, and a growing intolerance for complex, confusing "solutions" which often just make things worse. Compounding this is the shrinking (or is it evolving?) attention span of humans today. Some studies have concluded that the average person today has an attention span just under that of a goldfish. Not surprisingly, the "firehose" of content being hurled at everyone today via multiple technologies and channels leaves us all longing for one elusive thing...SIMPLICITY.
The fundamental problem for millions of American households today more than ever is "making ends meet". Any discussion of saving for retirement, or a down payment on a home, or the kids’ college, must be preceded by a clear, simple perspective on their current cash-flow situation. The data is out there, and the technology to deliver tremendously valuable information is in place - the problem until now has been no one has curated the demographic spending data properly, and created the seamless algorithms to deliver clear perspective and answers that low and middle income households desperately need. Further, these user's limited spending resources need to be marketed to in the most efficient way possible. "Shotgun" marketing is terribly inefficient and a waste of everyone's time.
Perhaps most troubling is the devastating cycle of payday lending and exponential credit card debt that millions find themselves trapped in. Often this is due to prior negative credit problems that can follow a person for years. The resulting low traditional FICO and other credit scores don't allow someone to get a fairly priced loan. They may even have a good steady job now, paying their bills on time, and without much doubt, compared to most of their peers are a very solid credit risk – if not for what may be ancient history defining them by a borderline credit score. Without a dynamic, current, relevant secondary lending metric that tells a lender that this person can indeed be a really good loan candidate as compared to their demographic peers, they will remain locked out of a win/win opportunity for them and for the lender.
At SPENDID we plan to pursue these solutions now more than ever before – because the need is greater than ever before. Early stage startup or not, pandemic or not, SPENDiD intends to succeed and help millions of households also succeed as a result.
Startlingly high numbers of US households today are in no position at all to benefit from these innovations in investment rebalancing or automated savings… they’re just trying to make it to the next payday. The latest step toward addressing this has been the Early Wage Access (EWA) industry whereby an individual can use any one of countless similar apps to access earned wages 2-3 days before their normal pay date. Again, that’s good. But there is no reason to “spike the ball” and celebrate as if that user has achieved any real financial success as a result of moving up their cash flow situation by a fixed amount of 2 days. It’s a one-time gain and gets no better after being used the first time. There is no more total income coming in than did before, and spending has not been addressed at all by these EWA solutions.
Millions of US households have serious and sometimes “disguised” financial behavior issues which desperately need to be addressed through simple-to-adopt solutions. A clearer perspective of one’s spending behavior versus available cash income is a great place to start. Think about it… to some degree, we all do mental comparisons of our lifestyles and apparent spending behaviors. What if this information could be curated and delivered in a beneficial way via simple technology available to almost everyone?
SPENDiD’s API has pioneered a new approach to offering demographically derived, peer-comparative spending intelligence for use by platforms in the fintech/PFM sector, whether that be digital banks, FIs, budgeting apps or financial wellness platforms. By leveraging the API’s vast unbiased databases and unique algorithms, developers can offer autonomous budgeting solutions, personalized marketing insights, and even valuable new secondary lending metrics. This technology helps the adopting developer better personalize the FI/account-holder relationship in an era where the parties may never meet face to face.
Such user-friendly technology is intended to help address an alarming trend in financial illiteracy and FI/customer separation. And it’s not just the household or individual who suffers due to their cash-flow stress. Employers dealing with a distracted, less productive and less healthy workforce are “co-sufferers” of this along with the financially stressed employees and their families.
So, back to the original thought of self-driving money. APIs such as SPENDiD are a giant step toward that goal. It’s kind of like bowling with the rails up on the sides to prevent gutter-balls… you’re not guaranteed a strike, but you’re WAY closer to a better score than using the “traditional” approach of an unaided toss down the alley. When it comes to your money, who wouldn’t want the rails up?
Institutions are more proactively exploring how such data can be used for good. Recognizing this opportunity was the inspiration behind the genesis of SPENDiD. It is important to remember that SPENDiD began as a consumer app. Its central reason for existence was to address a disturbing trend in our country: the startling lack of basic financial literacy and simple awareness of how to structure one’s month-to-month financial life in order to “make ends meet”. As time went on SPENDiD’s founders realized there existed a much wiser market approach to putting their newly developed demographic perspective to spending behavior in the hands of those needing it. That path was to offer an elegantly documented, highly scalable API to PFM apps and financial wellness platforms already “in the room” with customers and employees longing for a simple, sensible approach to understanding and improving their monthly cash flow health. By thoughtfully curating unbiased empirical datasets and indexes of already proven consumer behavior, SPENDiD might not have yet fully drained the data swamp, but has at least “filtered” it by retrieving and applying its truly valuable components.
Further enhancements to SPENDiD’s capabilities are planned or already in development, and all will abide by the premise of “Simple but not Easy”. There exists a critical difference between these two common words. Simple means “easily or quickly understood”, or the opposite of complicated. But what simple does not mean is “easy to create or develop”. In fact, the simpler something is to understand, often the more difficult it is to create. The difficult creation task has already been conquered by the team at SPENDiD, enabling our client partners to help their thousands or even millions of struggling employees or customers with the simple to understand results.
SPENDiD will remain “maniacally focused on the radically simple”. We believe the winners in fintech will be those who deliver simple to understand solutions, readily adopted by the masses. Here’s to draining the swamp!
It’s A New Priority Following The Pandemic
It has become clearer than ever, in the wake of COVID-19, that American workers are not prepared to handle a financial emergency.
As many millennials have only a couple months in emergency savings (if any), the pandemic has uncovered an issue that they’re realizing is serious - they don’t have a back-up plan when disaster strikes. Going forward, American workers will know the importance of budgeting and spending wisely (from experience!) and millennials are going to place an emphasis on core workplace benefits.
Financial wellness has been growing in awareness in recent years, but this pandemic is naturally bringing it to the forefront of many employees’ (and employers’) thoughts.
Google Trends illustrates this explosion of new queries like: ‘covid financial assistance,’ ‘coronavirus financial assistance,’ ‘covid 19 financial assistance,’ ‘financial assistance for coronavirus,’ ‘financial assistance for covid 19.’
Even the broad term ‘financial assistance’ hit a massive spike in March 2020 in the United States.
The influx of pandemic emergency loans and grants being offered is astronomical. It is hard to say exactly how the international pandemic will hurt education, business, and more, but one thing is sure. Many Americans are facing hardships they were not prepared for.
As this article, Financial Wellness Will Be the New Priority Following the Pandemic, outlines, “Retirement industry professionals might soon see a significant shift toward emergency savings accounts as millions of workers struggle to make ends meet after the financial hits brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Thus, financial wellness and benefits will become a competitive survival factor for many firms. Millenials will take this seriously, and will be comparing these financial wellness benefits when they decide whether or not to work at a company. Don’t wait to get an education on financial wellness. As an employer, you need to be prepared for this new priority, so that you can provide direction and prepare your employees for a life of financial wellness. Learn more about SPENDiD’s demographically-guided, simple-to-use approach. . And don’t waste valuable time and resources “reinventing the wheel,” but instead, start a conversation with us today! Let us show you how easy it can be to make a crucial, positive difference in the lives of your employees and their families.
In recent years, more employers have been adopting programs centered around “financial wellness,” and for good reason - it encourages their employees’ awareness of money and a healthy relationship with finances.
But a key aspect has been missing, until now. “Employees who rate their financial wellness positively are more likely to feel that they can effectively manage their day-to-day finances, pay bills while saving for future goals, and that their retirement savings are on track.” found
a Bank of America report.
So, employees have demonstrated that they want to feel secure about their current and future financial health - and over half say they want reassurance about financial decisions.
This is where SPENDiD comes in. We created SPENDiD out of a desire to help reverse the alarming trend of financial illiteracy, including the resulting stress caused by uncertainty and a lack of demographic perspective on spending behavior. Based on carefully structured peer data, our API technology is thoughtfully designed to help improve the general spending habits of the end user by making budgeting and financial decision making radically simple - even addictive.
Suddenly, making ends meet now actually makes sense.
Not only does a simple to use financial wellness program like SPENDiD improve your workforce’s satisfaction with their overall benefits package, but with this sound financial health comes increased focus and productivity at work and lower stress related health costs.
Do you have a financial wellness program? Bolster your employees’ financial health by offering them access to SPENDiD. Our predictive, crowd-validated consumer spending intelligence helps the user understand their monthly budget health in ways never-before possible. Reach out to us through the Contact Us page at www.spendid.io and let us show you how easy it can be to make a crucial, positive difference in the lives of your employees and their families.