It has long been my belief that bringing together the detail of how an individual spends their money day to day, month to month, has huge potential to help provide them with information and nudges and drive them towards better savings decisions. One organisation that has been working consistently to make this happen for several years is Aon.
Aon was an early adopter of such an approach, having acquired Lorica and its Bigblue benefits portal as far back as 2014. Based on the knowledge learned since then, the company is well place to deliver the next generation of financial wellness service. I recently had a look at what they have delivered and explored the rationale with the Aon team.
Well One Money is designed to deliver behavioural change based on contextual data. In plain English, it is designed to provide the ability to analyse data at an individual level to help the user achieve their personal financial goals. This is intended to help people understand the breadth of what is happening in their financial world, where they might need to make changes, where they absolutely need to make changes and, through the use of the service, help them make those changes.
This can bring benefit to every generation and every type of user. When it comes to financial wellbeing, each different consumer is in a very different place. To really be useful these tools need to recognise the nuances of each individual’s personal situation.
The major changes in the latest iteration of the service are nudges based on data and insights. This is key to helping people achieve micro- changes in their financial lives which, when added together, start to have a significant impact on their macro financial world.
Equally the service can support company level communications and also covers subjects around general wider financial awareness such as tax year ends. Well One Money provides a balance between what is happening to an individual, what is important to that individual and what is happening outside in the general personal finance world that will affect them.
The system sees the user following the nudges and making micro-changes. When it can recognise they have made a change three months in a row, for example to reduce spending in a particular area, it will invite the user to redirect the saving achieved to one of the goals they have identified, because their modified actions have now made contributing to a goal more affordable.
By using machine learning to recognise not only an individual fixed outgoing, but in addition their typical pattern of variable spending, the system will, in turn, provide, an early warning when a particular spending trajectory will make a person overdrawn by the end of the month.
The application of voluntary benefit schemes within the new version of the service offers these in ways that mean they can really achieve their full potential for users. While, for example, discount schemes are attractive, the user typically has to action the discount and remember they have the entitlement to the discount when they are actually shopping.
Well One Money uses an individual’s open banking data to identify specific transactions they make on a regular basis and prompt the user to take action in advance, such as purchasing a discounted gift card that can be applied in store to ensure they receive the full benefit when they next shop.
Aon is keen to stress that this service is about the application of technology and how it can help a business, not just deploying technology to a firm’s employees. Overall the service is designed to identify measurable strategic goals and objectives for a company in the context of supporting their workforce, and to understand the problems an organisation is facing now and might face in the future and the best way to address these.
Financial wellness has enormous potential to have a major positive impact on the lives of millions of employees. Sadly, the vast majority of what today is presented by pension providers and consultants as financial wellness falls far short of this standard.
Only a handful of such services are currently delivered in ways capable of making a real difference to individuals’ lives. Aon is one of very few firms achieving this and one of the few genuine leaders in this field.