Financial services breakfast roundtable: inspiration at daybreak

28 February 2017
Ben Logan

Ben Logan


Passionate about improving services and experiences for the people that use them.

On Tuesday we held our breakfast roundtable event: Behavioural Economics to safeguard people’s financial future at our offices in Old Street.

Aimed at professionals in Financial Services, we had attendees from academia, banking, fintech and consumer credit information.

The early start required lots of strong coffee, pastries and inspiration – the latter provided by 2 speakers who we invited to share their expertise:

  • Sotiris Georganas, a Reader in Behavioural Economics at City University London; and
  • Per Polland, COO at Habito, a Fintech revolutionising mortgage application and brokerage.

Here our some of the highlights from the session:

A marshmallow in the hand is worth two in the future

If you’re not familiar with Behavioural Economics, it’s about applying behavioural psychology to economic decision making. It was popularised by the works of Daniel Kahneman (Thinking Fast & Slow), Cass R Sunstein (Nudge) and Dan Ariely (Predictably Irrational) amongst others.

At Spotless, we use Behavioural Economics in projects to assess what behavioural factors may be influencing the user journey and then design with this in mind to create environments where customers are more likely to undertake their desired behaviours (get fit, save money etc.) and to help businesses reach their goals.


Sotiris' talk on Behavioural Economics

Sotiris’ talk on Behavioural Economics


Sotiris started things off his talk covering a number of theories from Behavioural Economics including present bias, framing, loss aversion and mental accounting – and what these all mean for Financial Services.

When talking about present bias, Sotiris told us about the famous Marshmallow Experiment. In the experiment, children were offered 1 marshmallow now or, if they were able to resist eating the marshmallow for 15 minutes unsupervised, 2 later.

Unsurprisingly when researchers went back into the room, some children weren’t able to resist and ate the tasty marshmallow rather than waiting for an extra one. More interestingly in the long term, the children who were able to delay their gratification were shown to have better test scores and educational attainment, and were healthier over the course of their lives.

How might we help people who are marshmallow-now prone make better financial decisions?

Current online tools that show spending breakdowns are nice to have information – but will only become really valuable when insight and advice can be drawn from this.

How might we make interventions come at the right time to for longer term benefit?

Revolutionising Mortgages with Habito

Mortgage application is a pain (apparently). Participants in previous research into traditional mortgage holders have said that they didn’t remortgage to get a better deal immediately when a preferable rate ended on their 2-year fixed rate mortgage – such was the pain of the application process.

Avoidance of this pain and these hassle factors is clearly not in their financial interests.

Habito is a fintech startup revolutionising mortgage application and brokerage.

Mortgage application with Habito

Mortgage application with Habito


Habito uses a conversational chat interface – replicating the way that a mortgage advisor would ask questions through face-to-face meetings to find out about the customer’s situation in order to recommend suitable mortgage products.

Due to the nature of the chat interface – they can take customers through the process one step at a time, switch over to a human advisor seamlessly and also create an audit trail of the application process. Remortgages are easy too – Habito can engage before the end of the term to ensure customers switch and get the best rate.

Not only is it a better experience – it reduces the timeline and man hours by 5x on the traditional process(!).

We discussed how Fintech’s driving change need to aim for this level of innovation to provide value to users – creating a banking app with good UX is not good enough to disrupt – value that can be measured in time saved or return on monetary investment need to be provided by a service.

Challenges & the horizon

Drawing from their experience, the group said that data and evidence are key to winning over skeptical stakeholders and achieving buy-in for innovation in financial services.

Especially hard business drivers showing revenue growth, customer retention, customer acquisition etc. are vital to show for larger companies to challenge the status quo and to create a business case.

Again, we hear legacy systems (and even legacy roles), are one of the primary barriers to the major players in Financial Services.

We see that lessons from behavioural economics can be used for a win-win – benefiting customers and businesses – for example building savings habits, reducing defaults on debt or mortgages.

We feel it isn’t too long before helping people achieve financial wellbeing becomes competitive advantage for larger players, not just Fintechs.

Thanks for coming!

Thank you to everyone who came and joined in the discussion.

Spotless works with a number of companies in Financial Services helping them to understand their customers and design services for them. Get in touch if you have a project you would like to discuss.

Our next breakfast roundtable event will be on Healthcare – are you are interested in joining the discussion or speaking?

Ben Logan - Director

Got a project in mind?

Ben is on hand to answer your questions.