We often talk about the surprising innovation and creative problem solving coming out of the financial services industry. Fidelity Investments is the latest company in this space to prove that design thinking can disrupt even the most traditional corporate environments.
Digital Surgeons recently highlighted Fidelity Labs, the innovation arm of Fidelity, which has eight global locations, 150 people, and over 200 patents, for its use of design thinking. And it’s not hard to see why — The Fidelity Labs website has the principles of design thinking all over it. “At Fidelity, we don’t accept the status quo,” the site declares. “We’re debating, experimenting, researching, teaching and collaborating on new ideas to help people live better financial lives.”
But Fidelity wasn’t always a leader in design thinking. HBR reports that, in 2011, when Fidelity decided to revamp their website, they teamed up with the Stanford University d.school (founded by IDEO’s David Kelley) to get the job done. The d.School introduced the Fidelity team to design thinking, and they used it to redesign the website that now touts these very principles.
As HBR reports, Fidelity started with two very important questions: How do you get workers to save money for the future? And how do you get younger people to do something that they know is good for them, yet for which the positive payback is many years away?
From there, the d.school student teams did a deep dive into customer empathy, and what they found opened Fidelity’s collective eyes: Graduate students are turned off by complexity, fine print and jargon. Millennials need immediate rewards and motivation in order to drive long-term behavior change. And Boomers? They not only know what a “passbook” is, they probably still have it.
These design thinking lessons led Fidelity to use imagery that resonated with a broad spectrum of customers — a 1970s bank passbook and new, innovative imagery that highlighted things like balance history and other data — all with the goal of providing motivation to customers of all generations to achieve their financial goals and aspirations.
This experience ultimately led Fidelity to create Fidelity Labs, which is now devoted to leveraging design thinking to identify and solve for customers’ needs. Today, Fidelity Labs rapidly innovates in the areas of new products and services (and even businesses) to transform its customers’ financial well-being. Fidelity uses design thinking to plan three years out for new technologies and other changes that might impact or otherwise affect its customers.
Fidelity Labs has also partnered with Bitcoin to collaboratively innovate new ways to use cyber currency for charitable giving, ideas to ease the global crisis of student debt, and foster projects that use artificial intelligence, data analytics, new and emerging interfaces, the gig economy, fintech, and just about every aspect of disruption in the financial industry today. All of the ideas that bubble up out of the Lab are prototyped and tested with the customer squarely at the center of it all.
Fidelity Labs averages 12 patents a year. That’s a steady pace of innovation and excellence. And it’s all undertaken with the financial wellness of its customers in mind, using design thinking as the vehicle to get them there.
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