Empowering millennials to have financial goals for the future
The generation born between the years 1980 and 1999 are popularly known as 'millennials'. Current millennials exist somewhere in between the ages of 21 and 40, some closer to retirement and others just entering the workforce. While young millennials are challenged to find steady employment that covers their high cost of living, they must begin saving for retirement soon to leverage the compound effect of saving early.
Our research pertains to younger millennials who are recent graduates with high interest student loans, high cost of living and a short-term mentality. We found that most young millennials feel retirement is too distant a goal to plan for when there are numerous bills to pay today while keeping up with a chosen lifestyle.
Consolidating the data from our research, we distilled our findings down to three high-level behavioural problems:
In the age of instant gratification, 64% of millennials want to enjoy life as they live it making it easier to overspend for experiences now rather than later. (TD Ameritrade attitudinal research 2016)
With high cost of living, lagging student debt and a need to be social, millennials find themselves left with little or no money at the end of the month.
Being able to own a house seems like a goal too large to accomplish given their current financial habits. Combined with a lack of planning tools, it’s harder for this generation to find somewhere to start at their own pace.
To avoid overwhelming millennials who use mobile banking, our team decided to work towards a quiz-like function within a regular banking application. This quiz can help users visualize their short term lifestyle goals, see estimated costs over a period of 5 years to maintain these choices, and educate them about the financial tools they can leverage to grow their money.
By gently nudging millennials to evaluate the financial investment required for a successful adulthood, we can bring retirement on their radar and assist them in building financially healthy habits.
While retirement is considered a long-term goal, using a visualization tool to discover short-term goals and explore the associated costs associated can help millennials set realistic financial standards for their future. By planning for bite-sized goals millennials gain confidence and set a clearer direction for a successful retirement.
Adding a range of estimated prices can help set realistic standards for lifestyle costs. Knowing the cost of their chosen lifestyle can help millennials switch from a present mindset to a near-future mindset instead.
Educating millennials about financial tools available to grow their money all the while nudging them to improve their budgeting habits to accomplish short-term goals.
As part of our research, we interviewed 9 millennials in-person and over the phone to understand their relationship with money and how they navigate through financial challenges. In our interviews we hoped to gain insights about the following:
What are millennials’ current spending habits? Are there certain trends we can uncover?
Do millennials have a projected retirement savings plan to afford their ideal post-retirement lifestyle? What are their attitudes about retirement calculators?
What platforms do millennials use to interact with their finances?
The interviews were kept conversational and any information shared in this case study was consensually agreed upon prior to discussion.
Prior to conducting interviews, we researched currently available financial tools to calculate the cost of retirement and discovered that retirement planning tools such as WealthSimple, Mawer and SunLife’s financial planning calculators required the user to be completely aware of their financial health and input numbers that correlate to their current financial behaviour. Each of these calculators could be potentially intimidating to the user and does not take into account the impact of inflation.
Additionally, we decided to scour social media for millennials’ retirement plans and landed on a trending Twitter hashtag #millennialretirementplans
On a mission to empathize with our users, we decided to put ourselves in the their shoes and emulate how our user might think, feel and behave when overwhelmed by personal financial goals. We came up with our proto persona, Samuel.
On a mission to empathize with our users, we decided to put ourselves in the user’s shoes and emulate how our user might think, feel and behave when handling their personal finances.
Through interviews we knew that most users use either their web application or their mobile phones to pay their bills and check their spending. Given that most millennials have access to their phones during the day, a design strategy could be effectively implemented in their banking application. This would benefit today’s user by being accessible on the go.
The three main points that could concern our user in a contextual setting were:
Addressing the lack of price awareness by providing an estimated value of goods, services and real estate based on the city our user resides in
Educational facts about the services available to them through their banks to help grow their money
Using an intuitive, accessible interface with a subtle sense of humour to keep it less intimidating for the user
The second day of our design sprint came with a challenge. We were asked to design our solution keeping in mind a user who has temporarily lost function of both their hands. Our team responded by designing an experience using voice commands taking cues from existing AI voice command machines.
Since this tool was not meant for actual financial planning but to help millennials gain an idea of how much their short-term goals would cost over their long-term goals, we decided to present these ideas in the form of an interactive quiz.
Based on the core functionality of this tool, I created sketches and my team members helped me convert them to digital wireframes that could then be tested on users for rapid iterations.
My teammates created the digital wireframes in Sketch and improved the design using animations from Lottie as well as some animations created in After Effects for the final presentation.
Rise of Mobile Banking
Mobile banking has become increasingly secure and more people from the millennial generation use applications to process their bills and other payments as well as track spending habits.
As the gig economy sees growth, there are many millennials that work more than one job to cover the high costs of living and often find themselves wanting to increase productivity even through travel time.
1. Rapid iterations help with a faster, more efficient workflow. Working through a sprint accelerates idea generation and keeps things MVP, saving time and energy and only working with information that is critical to the development of the product.
2. Context is important. As a millennial who is always on the go, I felt challenged to develop a feature that not only educated other millennials but also kept them engaged and entertained. At the same time, I realized how important it is for a bank to take financial matters seriously for their customers to feel secure in having that organization handle their money. The quiz approach we took would not be a practical application for a bank because it can set an informal tone that might be off-putting to many customers.
3. Considering accessibility is a best practice. Designing for accessibility encouraged me to think beyond my needs and empathize with users who are different from myself.