What can Facebook and AirBnB teach us about financial wellbeing?


Think back to that fateful day when you first created your Facebook account. Little did you know the endless hours of your life this would suck up with ‘poking, liking and posting’.

A good question to ask yourself is why did you first sign up to it? I must admit I was a late adopter to Facebook and the only reason I signed up was it became too painful not to have it. Life without Facebook meant missing out on invitations to events and losing touch with your friends who now communicated using this new social tool. In short, I had to use Facebook because it became too inconvenient not to.

Another roaring success of Dotcom 2.0 is AirBnB which is now valued at more than Marriott, at $50 billion, but still doesn’t own a single hotel room. The real secret to the success of AirBnB wasn’t due to the success of creating a platform which got you great rates on accommodation, this market was already served by the likes of Booking.com and Hotels.com, but it was its ability to deliver the user with personalised experiences in areas they didn’t know.

AirBnB leverages the knowledge of local experts to design one off travel experiences, getting you into hidden restaurants and activities which aren’t usually on the tourist map.

These apps also have in common their simplicity to use, the speed at which they create value and the fact you don’t have to read any sort of instruction manual or learn any jargon before you use them as their user experiences are completely intuitive.

Changing expectations

These two apps are so widely used that it has altered the expectations of the user in other areas of their lives. We continually see the burgeoning financial wellbeing market launch services which require large amounts of effort for users to engage with, are often filled with jargon and don’t provide a great deal of value at the end of their journey. In order for these programs to succeed this must change.

Many companies are launching education services, including online libraries filled with generic information, in response to answering demands to launch financial wellbeing programs and help employees with their finances.

However, as is plainly evident, these services don’t in the least bit resemble those of the most successful apps. They require large amounts of effort by the employee in order to gain any valuable insight into their lives and often leave the employee hanging at the point where a change could be made.

We must realise what is being demanded is not education or seminars but a solution to solve people’s financial concerns. Vanity metrics like seminar attendance should not be considered but in its place should be tangible metrics such as the number of employees who now feel more confident in their finances or the workforce debt reduction, the percentage of workforce with a cash buffer or the percentage of workforce on track for a comfortable retirement. These are the bedrock of a financially healthy workforce and should be heavily cited when building business cases for financial wellbeing programs.  

In order to engage with employees and truly improve their financial habits and capabilities we must look to services which are already successful. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel when launching financial wellbeing programs but can learn from other industries where engagement and results are impressive.

So I would challenge all those looking to launch these services to be more like the ‘start up’ all your millennials are currently using and less like the stuffy HR programs which have always been the norm.

Phil Blows is director at Wealth Wizards.

This article was provided by Wealth Wizards.  


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