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The Future

of Money
Transforming the customer relationship for the
financial services industry by understanding
how people relate to money.
Executive Summary:
The Slow-Money
Challenge Is the Next
Digital Imperative in
Financial Services

On January 1, 2018, all banks in the European Where should we focus our
Union will lose a key competitive advantage. digital investments?
From that date on, they will no longer be able to How do we build stronger customer
access data in their customers online accounts, relationships when we become
including their transaction and balance history. more digital?
PSD2 the Payment Services Directive is not What is the key to retaining more
a stand-alone initiative.1 Regulators in North customers?
America are also exploring ways to even the How do we sell more products per
playing field across the financial services indus- customer without compromising
try. This will accelerate competition, creating the company culture and ethics?
foundation for increased digital disruption. What should digitization do for our
When we meet executives at banks, company over the next three to
retirement services providers and insurance five years?
companies, they dont view their customer re- There are so many priorities,
lationships with the same confidence as before. but what should we focus on?
They are thinking long and hard about what it
will take to maintain and deepen relationships to This white paper is written for executives
ensure customers will remain with them longer like you, who are looking to get the right an-
and use more of their products and services. swers. We scoured 100-plus reports on the future
Given how much money the financial services of financial services, but found they were primar-
industry spends on digital (estimated to be more ily focused on asking customers what they want.
than $310 billion annually by 20202), executives The problem is, your customers do not know
should be asking questions such as: what they want. They are often unaware of why
they act the way they do.
To understand what customers really want,
financial institutions (FIs) need to approach

these questions as anthropologists do: Study what we call peoples slow money (any future
people in their real environments and under- spending or saving) rather than fast money
stand how they make sense of money, invest- (their daily and short-term spending). Until now,
ments, pensions, savings, credit and wealth digital innovation and fintechs have largely
preservation. focused on solving problems related to peoples
In the fall of 2016, we embarked upon the fast money.
most comprehensive anthropological study un- While digitization has delivered many
dertaken in recent times on the future of money. benefits for customers and companies, it hasnt
The study closely followed the lives of people resulted in the strong customer relationships
in the U.S., the UK and Germany, uncovering necessary for winning in the future. In contrast,
hidden truths about their behaviors, emotions our study demonstrates that getting slow money
and habits around dealing with finance and FIs. right will make consumers more loyal, less price
We also conducted a survey of 3,000 consumers sensitive and more inclined to do more business
and multiple interviews with academics, FI execs with your organization. Thats why we believe
and fintech industry players (see Methodology, that resolving peoples slow-money challenges is
page 17). the next digital imperative in financial services.
This white paper provides an entirely new And its why we estimate that banks can achieve
perspective on what it will take for FIs to build a financial impact corresponding to an increase
healthy and winning relationships with their of 14.2% of revenue by getting the slow-money
customers in a more digital future. It provides challenge right.
new clarity on what matters to your customers,
where to focus innovation and what you as a
leader must do to ensure digital investments
deliver on what customers really want.
The core idea is that financial providers
should focus the next wave of digitization on

The Future of Money | 3

Part 1:
Peoples Relationship
with Money Is Broken

On the surface, peoples relationship with money Linda piece together her fragmented financial
appears straightforward. Digital finance has ecosystem.
made it easier than ever to make payments, Across the U.S., Germany and England, we
check balances and access financial data. It is heard various stories, all with the same theme:
easy to assume that money has never been sim- People feel as if they are not in control of their
pler. But go into any home and spend time with money. The people we met are struggling to
people exploring their finances, and you hear a manage their spending habits, agonizing over
very different story. how to best plan for retirement, and worrying
In Los Angeles, we spent two days with their insurance providers wont pay out.
Linda, a 54-year-old event consultant. We sat Beneath these practical concerns lies a per-
down with Linda and asked her to map out her sistent sense of anxiety caused by being over-
financial products and providers. Two hours later, whelmed by their finances, lacking a sense of
she had finalized mapping
out her 14 credit cards, six People feel as if they are not in control
insurance policies, five mort-
gages and multiple pensions. of their money. The people we met are
She forgot which products struggling to manage their spending
she had with which provider
and failed to recall a retire- habits, agonizing over how to best plan
ment account entirely. for retirement, and worrying their
While Linda may have
several more financial prod- insurance providers wont pay out.
ucts than most, her experi-
ence with finance is similar to that of everyone financial agency and experiencing their money
we met: She acquired her accounts ad hoc over as fundamentally fragmented. As Blair from the
the years, and her financial setup seems overly Bronx, New York, told us: I woke up in the mid-
complex and unwieldy. There are gaps and re- dle of the night last night because I was having a
dundancies. Her finances are far from optimized. nightmare about money.
This fragmentation plays a significant role in why Every element of consumers financial
Linda feels her finances are out of control. Her setup is deeply interconnected. To take a simple
service providers, some of the leading financial example, what people spend day-to-day affects
services institutions in the U.S., are not helping how much they will save; however, rather than

Its that Stressful
The biggest sources of stress in peoples lives are as follows:

% 0 10 20 30 40

Financial or money challenges

Health concerns
Relationships and family responsibilities
My job (if employed)
Terrorism and crime
None of these

37 % say money and finances are the

biggest source of stress in their lives.

Figure 1
Source: ReD Associates and Cognizant survey of 3,074 consumers in the U.S. and the UK, 2017

experiencing this
When you ask people about their biggest
link, they perceive
their network of source of stress, they dont say terrorism, their
money in frag-
health or their job prospects they point to
ments. Finance is
atomized, and that finance and money challenges.
atomization feeds
insecurity and worry for the people we met. pervades almost everything people value in life.
When you ask people about their biggest And so, when peoples relationship with money
source of stress, they dont say terrorism, their is broken, it is almost as if their relationship with
health or their job prospects they point to life itself were broken. This needs to be fixed. But
finance and money challenges (see Figure 1). FIs it requires a deeper understanding of why this
have a long way to go to help customers improve relationship is broken.
their financial well-being and truly be relevant in
their lives.
In short, peoples relationship with money
is broken. This finding was, to us, deeply dis-
turbing. No other consumer product we have
ever studied has the same all-pervasive quality.
For the people we met, not knowing if they are
saving enough for retirement means not know-
ing how they will live when they grow older, or
if they will be able to retire at all. Not knowing
whether they are putting enough money aside
for their childrens education means not knowing
whether they are competent parents. Money

The Future of Money | 5

When we look at their relationship with money,
people with fluid lifestyles are the most stressed
about their finances. They are also the most digital
consumer group. And even if they believe their
banks have a good understanding of their needs,
they are also the least loyal group of consumers.

When You Get Your Consumers
Wrong, You Wreck Their
Relationship with Money
In our research, we consistently heard consumers com- By Fluids and Fixed
plain that their FIs do not get them. People said they Our research also pointed to another, less well-known
consistently felt put in the wrong boxes. We looked at difference namely, between what we call people with
all these interviews, from thousands of customers and fluid lifestyles and those with more fixed lifestyles.
dozens of executives, and found that consumers could People with fixed lifestyles will typically stay in the
be segmented in two basic ways. same job for many years. They are less likely to live in
a different country from the one in which they were
By Age and Gender born. People with more fluid lifestyles, on the other
Many of the industry executives with whom we met hand, are more likely to change industry or country.
said they were kept up at night by their customers They also tend to be better educated and have higher
generational changes, as well as the different ways incomes than their stable lifestyle counterparts.
men and women navigate finance. And rightly so: Our When we look at their relationship with money,
data suggests there are quite important differences people with fluid lifestyles are the most stressed about
across age groups when it comes to finance. their finances, and the most likely to use digital tools
For example, millennials use digital slow-money to manage their finances. And even if they believe
products much more frequently and are much more their banks have a good understanding of their needs,
stressed about money than are their boomer parents. they are also the least loyal group of consumers (see
Similarly, there are differences between men and Figure 2).
women, even though these differences are significant-
ly smaller than those between age groups. To take
just one example, women worry more than men about
their finances.

Understanding Different Customers

% 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 % 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 % 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80

Money and finance is

a big source of stress

Regularly use apps

and online tools for
slow money

Believe their bank has a

good understanding of their
financial goals and needs

Age Gender Lifestyle

Millennials Men Fluid Lifestyle
Boomers Women Fixed Lifestyle
Figure 2
Source: ReD Associates and Cognizant survey of 3,074 consumers in the U.S. and the UK, 2017

The Future of Money | 7

Part 2:
Two Fundamental
Types of Money:
Fast and Slow

Ask any economist, and theyll tell you money later life, acting as her de facto retirement plan.
is fungible: A dollar in my wallet is equivalent to This is what she believed despite the housing
and wholly exchangeable with a dollar in my bank turmoil seen across the world just a few years
account. Every euro is exactly the same as every ago. For Alice, her mortgage was useful, produc-
other euro. But all the people we met with have tive debt, but her credit facility was negligent,
a strikingly different experience of their money. indulgent debt.
They exhibit a wide variety of attitudes, feelings We saw, over the course of our ethno-
and behaviors around different pots of money. graphic studies, great diversity in how different
Alice, a 28-year-old senior healthcare man- people think and feel about money. This diversity
ager from London, was proud to
earn an 80,000 salary but felt We saw great diversity in how people
a tinge of guilt about the money
she borrowed from her parents
think and feel about money. This diversity
for a down payment on her first is fundamentally misaligned with how
mortgage. She found it very financial institutions think about their
easy to spend all the money on
her credit card on nights out
customers money.
in London but diligently trans-
ferred money to her parents for safekeeping is fundamentally misaligned with how financial
each month, money that she refused to touch institutions think about their customers money.
unless she faced a financial emergency. Within all the attitudes and perceptions of mon-
She saw her pension as a backup plan ey, there was a clear pattern: People experience
something she could not rely upon given the their money as falling into one of two primary
fragility she perceived in the financial system. types: fast and slow.
On the other hand, she saw her home, given its Fast money (bill payments, daily expen-
clear tangibility and no visible price volatility, as ditures, bank accounts, etc.) is used in and
a reliable investment that would support her in assigned to the present and near future; it is

Current checking accounts, Standing orders, savings accounts,
overdrafts, credit facilities, cash, pensions, insurances, financial market
mobile payments investments, physical assets

Short timeframe Long timeframe


Little skill/faith needed Significant skill/faith needed


More intelligible Less intelligible

Mostly simple decisions Mostly complex decisions

Goal: Simplicity Goal: Stability and security

Figure 3

engaged with on a regular basis, and its manage- nience to their fast-money management that is
ment is now often digital. Fast money is primarily hugely appreciated. Providers that were the first
functional in nature, and is exchanged for goods movers in this space often won over customers
and services. Slow money (pensions, insurance, with these new digital offerings. However, the
investments, etc.) is assigned to some distant industry is far from having successfully estab-
future purpose and is vastly more difficult for lished what digital can do for slow money. And
customers to manage and comprehend. In the it is around slow money that people face by far
present moment, the primary value of slow mon- their greatest financial needs and challenges.
ey is to give people peace of mind. Instead of providing comfort and certainty
Fast money has greatly benefited from dig- that they are well prepared for the future, people
itization. For customers, digitization has brought agonize over their slow money. They struggle
a level of efficiency, accessibility and conve- to translate their personal needs and life goals

The biggest barrier for financial institutions

in building meaningful customer relationships
today is establishing how digital can support
peoples slow-money challenges.

The Future of Money | 9

Dissecting Online Money Management

Pretty complicated Not that digital

People who find the following products People who use digital apps or online tools to
very easy to manage. get information on the following products
very regularly or regularly.
100 100

80 80

60 60

40 40

20 20

0 0
% %
Daily accounts

Online banking activities

Savings accounts

Credit cards

Home insurance

Pension or retirement

Life insurance

Investment portfolio

Bank balance

Transaction history


Insurance products

Pension or retirement
Figure 4
Source: ReD Associates and Cognizant survey of 3,074 consumers in the U.S. and the UK, 2017

into financial targets, and they fail to understand

whether they are on track to meet those targets
once they have been set. They do not trust that
their slow money and the financial providers that
hold that money will support them in the future.
Their slow money doesnt make sense to them,
and it fails to alleviate their financial stress.
Today, the biggest barrier for FIs seeking
to build meaningful customer relationships
is demonstrating how digital can support the
marriage of peoples fast- and slow-money

Part 3:
Escaping the
Utility Trap

From North America to Asia Pacific, the finan- comes out of the socket ... and I want my money
cial services executives we met with are looking to come out of the machine when I need it that
for solutions that will enable their businesses is it.
to build stronger relationships with customers. It might seem natural to attribute weak
Naturally, they are searching for opportunities to customer loyalty and engagement to the last
improve product penetration, increase revenue decades financial crisis, bankers dispropor-
per customer and boost customer retention. tionate bonuses, ongoing financial scandals and
What is striking is the growing void between that newsworthy cases of litigation. Certainly, many
ambition and how customers really feel about of the people we met described themselves as
their financial services providers. Customers told being more skeptical of FI since the global eco-
us, increasingly, that they feel as if they have a nomic woes of 20072008. Far more critically,
distant, impersonal and at times antagonistic however, is the transactional relationship people
relationship with their providers. have with providers and the regularly alienating
Only 19% of consumers we surveyed experience they have when interacting with
described their financial providers as having a customer services.
proper understanding of their financial needs When we met Anthony, 44, in London, he
and goals. Twice as many consumers described had decided to finally act on his long-term goal
their financial providers as wanting their money of setting up a personal retirement account. We
(42%) vs. helping them get more out of their joined him on a visit to see an advisor at his local
money (21%). Rather than seeing financial pro- branch of a major high-street bank in the neigh-
viders as a legitimate, reliable source of financial borhood of Canary Wharf. On arrival, the advisor
guidance and support, financial institutions are established the purpose of Anthonys visit and
seen as utilities. identified him in the system. Despite having been
In Munich, Anita, a 45-year old mother of a customer with the bank for over 20 years,
two and legal council at a publishing firm, de- Anthony was asked various questions about his
scribed her low expectations of her bank. salary and personal situation. The bank did not
[My current account] is like electricity; it just offer any pensions that were relevant to him, so

The Future of Money | 11

Our Survey Said ...
Many financial services providers And a large majority believe banks
fail to attend to their customers are focused purely on transactional
slow-money needs, our research activities.
revealed. For instance:

27% said an FI professional has

checked whether they have the right
insurance coverage. 10%

25% noted that an FI professional has

analyzed their plans for retirement to
see if they are saving enough.
90% said their relationship with their bank
24% pointed out that someone from is defined by simple transactions, such as
an FI professional has reviewed their depositing money and checking account
savings and offered advice on getting statements, etc.
more out of their money.

23% said an FI professional from an FI

had reached out to them with advice
on getting more out of their money.

Figure 5
Source: ReD Associates and Cognizant survey of 3,074 consumers in the U.S. and the UK, 2017

We consistently found that providers either
overwhelmed their customers with information,
product options and features, or they outsourced
financial decisions for their customers, leaving
them feeling like they were in the dark.

Anthony left the bank feeling just as confused There is, however, a middle ground, where a
about his options and doubtful that his bank few institutions successfully help their custom-
understood him and his needs. This FI missed an ers navigate their finances. The best financial
opportunity to play an advisory role in Anthonys services:
financial life, instead reinforcing his perception
that the bank and its services were not relevant Guide the customer through financial
to him. decisions about how they want to live
To avoid becoming purely a utility provider, and what their goals are for their money.
with no meaningful customer relationship, finan- Take care of the practical details but
cial institutions would do well to recognize the regularly update the customer and leave
role they can play in customers financial lives. them feeling in control.
We consistently found that providers either Translate their financial data into
overwhelmed their customers with information, information that is meaningful for the
product options and features, or they out- customer.
sourced financial decisions for their customers, Recognize that customers wanted peace
leaving them feeling like they were in the dark. of mind from their slow money.
In both scenarios, customers felt out of control
and unsupported. Financial services providers should adapt these
principles and best practices to the digital space,
giving customers convenience when it comes to
their fast money and meaningful guidance and
integration when it comes to their slow money.

The Future of Money | 13

Part 4:
Getting Started
3. Release the power of digital learning:
To provide customers with a unique and mean- Customers dont want to become experts in
ingful sense of agency, we see five actions that finance, but they do want a sense of mastery
FIs should consider taking immediately: when it comes to dealing with their money. FIs
must learn to motivate people to develop skills
1. Activate data to recognize the customer: and sensibilities in a way that fits each custom-
Most FIs have an abundance of customer data ers capabilities and situational needs without
yet consistently fail to recognize customers, re- making them feel they are in school. It is critical
sulting in broken interactions and situations, with to help customers by integrating guidance and
the wrong products and services being pushed data interpretation into the front end of existing
to the wrong consumers. FIs must build a system digital platforms and providing guidance at the
of recognition that remembers everything about moment theyre making a financial decision.
the customer and consolidates transactional,
behavioral, financial and socio-demographic data 4. Digitize financial advice: As FIs continue
into one truth about the customer that is shared to replace people and branches with digital
and used at every touchpoint. offerings, theres never been a greater need to
develop tools that nurture good financial habits
2. Build predictive models for financial key and guide customer decision-making. FIs must
moments: Most financial providers talk about properly pivot to turn their expertise into offer-
life events, and yet we did not meet one custom- ings that guide customers to healthier financial
er who said his or her provider had systematical- behaviors and interpret what their financial data
ly been of help during key life events such as ed- concretely means for their situation. They must
ucation, marriage, parenthood, changing jobs or provide meaningful points of comparison to help
losing family members. Building better predictive customers understand whether they are finan-
models (while respecting consumer privacy) can cially on track.
help FIs better understand when their customers
are about to experience life events with major 5. Organize around the customer: Often,
financial ramifications. Working to identify ways financial institutions are structured in siloes, or-
of being relevant not only for life events them- ganized around product lines and departments,
selves but also to help consumers prepare for and not the customers they serve. They must
them will differentiate leading FIs from laggards. serve up a shared point of view on what matters
most to customers and better share and surface
data that resides across business units.
They must also evaluate performance
Customers dont want to become based on the financial well-being of the
experts in finance, but they do want customer rather than product or compa-
a sense of mastery when it comes to ny satisfaction.

dealing with their money.

Digitizing Slow Money Can Help Banks
Significantly Increase Revenue and Reduce Costs

By digitizing slow money, we estimate that banks Cost Reduction

can achieve a financial effect that corresponds to Digitizing slow money will also have significant cost-re-
an increase of 14.2% of revenue. For a top-five U.S. duction effects. Overall, our estimate is that banks can
consumer bank, this would mean an annual lift of more achieve an annual cost reduction effect corresponding
than $4.5 billion. to 6.2% of revenue. The largest single effect will come
from digitization of customer interaction, as more
Revenue Increases customer-bank interactions will move online. Other
The majority of the impact comes from increased impacts will be derived from the following:
revenue. Overall, we estimate that banks could achieve
Reduced cost of customer acquisition.
an annual revenue increase of 8%. The biggest impact
Reduced cost due to consolidation of IT
stems from a reduction in customer churn more
slow-money products will increase customer loyalty systems required for banks to combine fast

and lock-in. Other increases will be derived from: and slow money.
Lower loan loss provisions, as risk assessment
Attracting new customers from competitors. will be improved through better and smarter
Attracting customers who may not have full customer profiling.
coverage of financial products.
Increasing the number of products sold to each
customer through synergies between fast- and
slow-money products and services.
Raising the revenue generated per customer.

Maximizing Digitals Fast- and Slow-Money Impact

Revenue effects 8% Cost effects 6.2% TOTAL (%)

0.3% 0.1%
4.3% 6.2%

1.5% Revenue
customer churn

Increasing customer

Increasing number of
products per customer

Increasing revenue
per product

Reducing cost
of acquisition

Reducing Op-Ex by
consolidating IT systems

Reducing cost by digitizing

customer interaction

Reducing Cap-Ex by
consolidating IT systems

Reducing Op-Ex through

lower loan loss provisions

Figure 6
Source: ReD Associates and Cognizant, estimates based on previous project experience, standard industry assumptions and latest available annual
reports from the five largest U.S. consumer banks. Implementation costs are not included.

The Future of Money | 15


The study was conducted over five months in In-depth conversations with professionals with
2016 and 2017 and was comprised of: decades of experience advising consumers on
key financial decisions.
An ethnographic study with 32 families and Interviews with academic thought leaders
their social networks in the U.S., England with in-depth understanding of how peoples
and Germany. We spent two full days with relationship to money has evolved historically.
each person, meeting their friends and Conversations with more than 50 leaders from
families as well as their key financial advisors some of the worlds biggest financial services
(professionals or personal relations). institutions as well as fintech entrepreneurs.
A survey of 3,000 people in the U.S. and the
UK to test the insights from the ethnographic


The authors would like to thank Steve DeLaCastro and Ed Merchant, Senior Digital Partners in
Cognizants Banking and Financial Services business unit, and Mikkel B. Rasmussen, EU Director of
ReD Associates, Funke Sangodeyi and Daniel Bird from ReD Associates, for their meaningful
contributions to this report.


1. Payment Services Directive, European Commission,

2. Philippe Dintrans, Manish Bahl and Amit Anand, Seizing the Digital
Advantage in Banking and Financial Services, Cognizant Technology
Solutions, 2016, https://www.cognizant.com/FoW/twa-banking-and-




Andreas W. Hansen is a partner with ReD Associates Philippe Dintrans is Chief Digital Officer and Leader of
in Copenhagen. He draws on the social sciences to Cognizant Business Consultings Banking and Financial
advise some of the worlds largest companies on topics Services Practice. Philippe has led numerous consulting
including corporate strategy, marketing strategy and engagements covering business transformation, IT
organizational development. Andreas has 15 years transformation and change management for marquee
of experience at The Boston Consulting Group, the Cognizant clients. He holds a masters of science
Danish Ministry of Finance and as a journalist. He degree in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute
holds an MBA from London Business School, an MA in of Technology (MIT) and an MBA from INSEAD. Philippe
cultural studies from Goldsmiths College, University of can be ached at Philippe.Dintrans@cognizant.com.
London, an honors bachelor in international relations
from University of Cape Town, and an MsC and a BsC
in political science from University of Copenhagen.
Andreas frequently writes on topics related to business SRINIKETH
strategy, and has published in leading outlets, including CHAKRAVARTHI
Harvard Business Review. He can be reached at awh@

MARTIN GRONEMANN Sriniketh Chakravarthi leads Cognizants North Amer-

RED ASSOCIATES ican Banking and Financial Services (BFS) business
unit. During his tenure at Cognizant, Sriniketh has
held multiple roles, including BFS leader in Continental
Europe and BFS leader for business process services
Martin Gronemann is a partner with ReD Associates in in North America. He also led corporate development
Copenhagen. He has driven ReDs practice in financial for Asia Pacific and was instrumental in setting up and
services over the past five years, advising C-suites on expanding Cognizants footprint in China and in the
how to get in sync with the reality of their customers Asia Pacific region. He holds a bachelors degree in
needs and lives. Drawing on social science, Martin has engineering from the National Institute of Technology,
worked with clients to develop customer engagements Jamshedpur, and an MBA in finance from the Indian
that create trust and financial well-being for people; Institute of Management, Calcutta. Sriniketh can be
transition to a more digital customer engagement reached at Sriniketh.Chakravarthi@cognizant.com.
model; build stronger and more profitable customer
relationships; and uncover new sources of growth.
Martin has worked with a broad spectrum of financial
services clients, including retail banks, pension
providers, wealth managers, and insurance companies.
He has 10 years of experience at ReD and holds an MA
in political science from the University of Copenhagen
where he has also worked as external lecturer. Martin
frequently gives talks and writes on how to use human
sciences to drive strategic decision-making. He can be
reached at mgr@redassociates.com.

The Future of Money | 17

Cognizant Digital Business helps our clients imagine and build the Digital Economy. We do this by bringing together human insight, digital strategy, in-
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At ReD, we put a deep understanding of real people back at the center of business decision-making. Our teams solve some of todays hardest prob-
lems. Over the last 10 years, ReD has led a quiet revolution in thinking about business. All of our work begins with an exploration of the customers
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