By Howard Pull, Head of Digital Transformation Strategy at MullenLowe Profero. Writing for Finance Derivative.
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the economy has been huge. Over the past six months, youth unemployment figures have dropped, wages have stagnated and GDP has fallen by a record 20.4%. The drop in GDP is worse than the 2008 Financial Crisis, the Winter of Discontent and the Great Depression.
While the furlough scheme and other government measures have provided some much-needed financial support, the prevailing social and economic conditions have made money worries increasingly common. According to a recent survey from MullenLowe Profero, during the pandemic 40% of 18-25-year-olds are afraid to look at their bank account, with a further 40% stating that thinking about their money has a negative impact on their own personal wellbeing.
In response to these rising financial concerns from account holders, it is clear that banks need to help people – especially young people – feel more confident in managing their money. In particular, banks need to provide more educational support to their customers about how they can make the right financial decisions. This means designing tools and support services to enable more people to effectively manage their finances.
With 60% of consumers aged 18-25 believing that banks should help them have the capacity to absorb a financial shock, financial institutions also need to adapt their products and services to meet the needs of more uncertain account holders.
Adapting services, however, is easier said than done. The pandemic has radically shaped consumer behaviours and therefore the old rules no longer apply. For example, while consumers in the past may have preferred to discuss financial matters in person at a bank branch, risk of infection and the widespread use of digital tools has meant that the majority of young people want banks to provide wellbeing services online.
Digital experiences are also important to the future success of any bank. According to MullenLowe Profero’s report, digital experience is now the number one reason why young people choose a bank. Therefore, it is clear that banks during the pandemic and beyond need to reevaluate their operations and shape their personal wellbeing strategies around digital tools.
Community and Global Wellbeing
MullenLowe Profero’s report into financial wellbeing found that young people weren’t just concerned with their own personal wellbeing. They were also concerned about the importance of community and global wellbeing too. In fact, over half of 18-25-year-olds agree that the events of the last few months have made them seek out brands that do better for the world, with another 50% stating that the importance of a local community has increased during the pandemic.
Community wellbeing is concerned with the importance of local areas and the businesses and organisations that are based within them, whereas global wellbeing is concerned about the entire world. For banks, showing support for areas local to their branches and customers as well as issues affecting the globe such as the climate crisis is important to maintaining the trust and support of account holders.
Focussing banks on concerns around community and global wellbeing requires banks to assess their impact on the wider world. In other words, it forces banks to check who they support and where their money could be better placed. For example, young people want to be recognised for their positive behaviours. 56% of 18-25-year-olds want rewards and benefits for purchasing ethical and sustainable products and services.
The findings of the report found that young people across the board want financial institutions to reflect their values and to help them manage their finances. With COVID-19 continuing to wreak havoc on our day to day lives, banks can provide much-needed support by offering educational help as well as creating products and services that actively manage an account holder’s finances. They can also step in and provide support to the wider community and world by taking measures to reward ethical and sustainable behaviours.