I met yesterday with Toby Hughes, CEO of MoneyHub, one of the very few people in financial services who I could properly call visionary.
Like most visionaries, his big idea is very simple. He and his CTO Dave Toge talked me through how he wanted to get people to love managing their money. Unlike most visionaries, he’s organised his business to deliver.
The first thing I was shown was a room in which two people were talking to each other over a laptop. One was helping the other set up a MoneyHub account. In the room next door were analysts, watching, listening and analysing what was going on.
Hughes explained to me that any technology produced could only be validated by usage.
I was led through to a vast room where young teccies hunched over screens coding, designing and quality controlling. I’ve seen such operations before but only in gaming, this was Fintech on a staggering scale.
What quickly became obvious was that what was going on in the research rooms was being directly applied by the teccies.
For once – and I really mean “for once” products were being built around what people wanted, not what someone thought they wanted.
The latest version is being built for the smartphone;- tablet and full screen versions will follow but there’s recognition that our lifestyles dictate our financial behaviours. Toby gave as an example his healthcare company – Vitality; he can see the offers that go with the core product but he’s no interest in purchasing gym memberships through Vitality’s cumbersome web-interface.
It was reported yesterday that 50% of applications for internet banking accounts fail because people find it too hard to establish their identities. We can engage people, we can educate people, but if we can’t get technology to empower people to do things, then all this is just words.
The progress of their product development is less “big bang” more “evolution”. Money Hub is a means of engaging with budgeting, self-education and personal empowerment and is somewhere on the way to getting it right.
No doubt it will always be somewhere on that way, as “right” is only as good as we can currently understand. I understand this little chart is resonating with people.
While this beauty may look good but is not so effective
I bet the vast majority of those of us in financial services would have guessed the other way round. It takes a degree of humility to bin all the work, but these guys are honest – many of their ideas don’t work. I would like to hear similar admissions from the CEOs of our insurers and fund managers who continue to build around what they want people to buy, not what people want to learn.
The crux of this is that MoneyHub is not bing paid for by taking a charge on your money. The service is paid for by monthly subscription , there are no ad-valorem fees. IMO, this is the only way to eliminate bias.
The modesty of Toby and Dave is a refreshing change from the hubris of most FinTech exponents. They recognise that though they have captured millions of financial decisions , they are only a small way to understanding how those decisions were taken and why.
The data bank they are creating has no limits, just as our understanding of human behaviour. However the method of building this understanding , using emotional as well financial intelligence, is already bearing results.
Amongst the debris of abandoned pages I was shown, were tools that were working and getting such engagement from MoneyHub users that Toby could point to them as making it to future versions of his system.
These guys are living proof that if you know what you want and want it enough, you will deliver on the vision. I came away from the meeting, buzzing, thinking how I could apply these lessons to my own business and of the people I could share this great stuff with.
Almost every conversation I have – whether with HR, Reward and pension managers, providers and politicians reverts to the three words- engage, educate and empower.
They are easy words to say, they trip off the tongue, but they are amazingly difficult to deliver, when applied to people’s personal finances.
MoneyHub is a great venture which deserves our general support. I intend to be a customer and hope that my enthusiasm can be shared with those I know, so we can turn these easy words into action.