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This is how the Think Forward Initiative encourages financial literacy

In this report, the Think Forward Initiative summarises the findings of its 2017 summit, which aimed to evaluate the role of information in decision-making for consumers faced with financial choices. The summit focused mainly on exploring opportunities to stimulate financial literacy and enable more informed decision-making among consumers by improving access to personal, relevant, and timely financial management tools.

Building on its first summit in February 2016, the Think Forward Initiative Summit 2017 Report by the Think Forward Initiative (TFI) was published in April 2017, and, as its name suggests, is based on its 2017 Summit. The report focuses on three key areas: spending and borrowing patterns (e.g. through social media analysis), savings and investments, and financial literacy.

TFI and its partners, which include Deloitte, MicrosoftING, and others, have been working to translate summit outcomes into clear ambitions and objectives. To achieve this goal, TFI’s strategy includes developing and conducting new research, developing practical solutions, drafting policy recommendations, and spreading awareness about informed financial decision-making.

The 2017 Summit • Part 1

The first part of the Summit involved insightful talks by four leading thinkers on behavioural finance and financial decision-making. Among the speakers was Michael Norton, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and co-author of the book Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending. Norton’s research focuses on altruistic spending and the correlation of happiness to buying experiences rather than objects.

The second speaker during this part of the summit was Sille Krukow, founder of KRUKOW and creator of the KRUKOW behavioural design methodology. Her insights are based on years of archived information around applying structured methodology of data management to the optimisation of consumer behaviours and business approaches. 

The third speaker of the summit was by Björn Weigh, a business strategist and private equity investor with extensive experience in innovation, policy issues and economic development. Weigh delivered insights on how innovation is actually slowing productivity down rather than spurring economic growth. He argued that regulation issues, monopolistic business environments, and policy stagnation are to blame. Part one of the summit was rounded off with a final talk by an anthropologist and insightful provocateur, M.J. Petroni, who discussed new ways of thinking about technology and consumer behaviours.

The 2017 Summit • Part 2

The second part of the summit — a ‘break-out session’ — split participants into four groups to discuss the progress of TFI’s projects related to its future strategy. The first group evaluated spending and borrowing, the second savings and investment, the third financial literacy, and the fourth importing financial decision-making in 2027. Furthermore, each group of 25-30 participants answered the following questions:

– How can we maximise the impact of existing projects?

– What new ideas or insights must be explored to enable innovation in this theme?

– Who did our network miss?

Main findings

The break-out’ session results can be found in the mind maps featured in the Think Forward Initiative Summit 2017 Report. The key findings have been summarised below by theme:

1. Spending and borrowing

Practical solutions for spending and borrowing challenges would benefit from positive feedback rather than binary solutions (yes or no) and more personal feedback (e.g. proposing alternatives to buying such as sharing). Furthermore, practical solutions should be accessible to consumers and TFI should incorporate younger people into their focus (e.g. schools).

2. Savings and investments

The group suggests a need for research that transcends themes as the aforementioned and focuses on a ‘meta’ picture of issues (e.g. trust issues / privacy and personality traits associated with certain thematic behaviours). It also identified the need to answer practical questions like which tools would allow people to take action in this area.

3. Financial literacy

The main takeaways associated with financial literacy were that mobile applications must be integrating with existing banking apps to leverage transaction data, the need for robust testing of user profiles within these interfaces, how to match feedback with different profiles, and the necessity of tackling issues such as trust, ethics, and privacy in this area. 

Finally, the main findings within this theme included the enhanced role of data, technology and new business models in the future. Among other areas these variables looked at how business models will be more platform-based (e.g. mobile applications), passive income through ‘shared assets,; unskilled digital workers, the role of robotics in employment, a larger divide between the rich and poor, and virtual societies.

For access to the full Think Forward Initiative Summit 2017 Report (PDF), click here.

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