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Plan and Track Finances - How can we give people the financial confidence they need to achieve their ambitions?

Mentor: Jason Early, whose previous clients include Google and Nasa
Role: Sole UX Designer for client Adrian To
Time: 6 weeks

︎ 1. Early Insight 

Seeing the rise of fintech startups, Adrian approached me with an insight he wanted to develop:

“Why are we collecting paper receipts to claim business expenses, when everybody is paying digitally with WeChat Pay and AliPay [in China] ?”

I concluded my findings from 10 intervewees (age 18-45, M/F) about problems with expenses. Here is what I found:

︎ 2. Discovery 

︎ 3. Why aren’t People Finding Financial Planners?

Because they:
  1. do not have enough assets to require a financial planner
  2. do not have enough money to hire a financial planner

This creates a gap between people with financial planners and people without.

︎ 4. Why is the Gap Problematic?

I interviewed another 10 people (M/F, 18-25) to find out.

Interviewees without financial planners have…
  1. either no or incredibly vague financial goals 
  2. little success in following through goals
  3. no clear budget
  4. spent more than they have budgeted for because they don’t remember the total (tips, delivery fees, tax)
  5. little (< 2 months) to no emergency funds
  6. underprepared for emergencies eg. injuries, illness, or being out of work

All of which contribute to poor financial confidence.

︎ 5. What are the Obstacles?  

  1. professional financial advice is costly
  2. startups have to take on substantial risk when they themselves offer financial advice - as a financial firm, they will be regulated by the SEC in the States
  3. too many methods of payment (eg. digital, credit/ debit, cash), which makes budgeting and tracking spending difficult
  4. hard to know if you have spent too much in one category when it is considered as a lump sum
  5. trying to balance saving money and spending money -> need a clearer financial plan
  6. being swayed by marketing, wanting instant gratification and forgetting life goals
  7. lack of incentive to follow through on goals
  8. without clear financial goals, people have no incentive to save consciously

    ︎ 6. How are People Coping?  

    1. writing down goals on diary, but they are easily forgotten
    2. transferring money into savings account, but it is hard to tell how much money has been put aside for a specific goal
    3. being frugal, not buying luxury items
    4. putting money in another wallet

    ︎ 7. Who Would Benefit from the Bridge? 

    Meet Dylan, the primary persona. He is designed to be your friendly, financially responsible friend.

    ︎ 8. How is the App Going to Bridge the Gap?

    The first challenged I addressed is coming up with a way to make tracking and categorizing expenses easier. While this method still does not log cash transactions, it is the most comprehensive method from my brainstorm. Letting users input cash transactions easily will thus have to be a priority in the app.

    ︎ 9. Feature List Brainstorm

    Referencing similar personal finance apps such as ClarityMoney.com, Fudget.co, and Dollarbird.co, as well as previous user research, I graphed additional features on a cost-benefit plot to help decide what features to pursue in a MVP (Minimum Viable Product).

    ︎ 10. Sitemap

    Having considered user flow, and completed card sorting exercises with 5 people, I created a sitemap. The order in which items are presented reflect their priority.

    ︎ 11. Mockup - Accounts

    Reflecting the priority from the sitemap, the Accounts page uses the different accounts has a local navigation bar. 

    ︎ 12. Mockup - Balance (Home)

    The balance page allows you to view the money left in each category, rather then presenting it as a lump sum. Since this is the home screen, the add expense button is easily accessible.

    ︎ 13. Mockup - Goals

    Goals show you your financial goals. Your savings will adjust automatically when you put more money towards your goal. As for the input page, the app will calculate for you the amount you need to save for your timeframe. For example, if you need to save $80 in 2 months, that app will tell you that you will have to save $40 per month in order to achieve the goal.

    While the app does not move money into different accounts, users said that just thinking about money differently already dramatically improves the goal-setting process. Having the goals organized in an everyday application that names the goal and tracks progress is good incentive to pursue them.

    Thank you for reading!