The story of how Pocketnest, the financial wellness app, leveraged language, approachability and pure value to reach the masses
Just like the wrong product features can kill a company, the wrong brand positioning can affect the same demise.
We knew when creating Pocketnest, the financial wellness app that exists to bring financial wellness to the masses, that we wanted to be different from all other fintech platforms. For one, we offer comprehensive financial planning services—something we think other fintechs do not do well, and something financial institutions struggle to do at scale. And secondly, we wanted to be approachable and “speak millennial”—something far fewer brands and large financial institutions do really well.
Why focus on millennials? Well, let’s take it from the top.
Jessica Willis, founder and CEO of Pocketnest has 20+ years of experience in the financial industry. As a certified financial planner and certified private wealth advisor, she has co-managed a billion dollars of private wealth. And saw a lot of trends in the industry.
Most notably, she watched her industry evolve as fintech platforms flooded the market. This evolution has been incredible, but it leaves major gaps for the largest underserved demographic—millennials and genX:
8% of millennials demonstrate high financial literacy 1
81% carry long-term debt1
~25% demonstrate basic financial knowledge1
Meanwhile, the financial industry is still trying to adapt to the digital demands of the nextgen consumer:
86% of financial advisors ignore genX and millennials2
43% of millennials say their financial institution doesn’t communicate with them through their preferred channel3
98% of millennials would fire their parents’ advisor upon inheritance due to lack of tech and relationship4
Saddled with debt and lacking basic financial knowledge, genx and millenials are approaching their prime earnings and savings years without sufficient preparation. The industry expecting to serve them is seeking tech to modernize their traditional practice and ways to move downstream from their investment portfolio minimums.
Faced with this enormous whitespace opportunity, we developed Pocketnest to remedy this brewing financial crisis for financial institutions and the next generation of consumers they expect—and, frankly, must learn—to serve. By revolutionizing an industry that’s been historically for the elite, Pocketnest makes comprehensive financial wellness accessible to everyone through a scalable and approachable digital platform.
Building a disruptor brand
Willis knew that the personal financial planning industry was ripe for disruption. And she knew it was a precarious situation to introduce yet another fintech app to millennials and gen Xers who were already skeptical of financial institutions.
That’s why our brand positioning was critical—not just in our marketing content, but throughout the entire app experience and user journey with our content. Despite the fact that many of our users feel like their finances are in good shape, they still lie awake at night knowing they’re missing something. And, born and raised in the digital era having less trust and expecting more transparency from brands, we knew we had to tread lightly.
Millennials and gen Xers don’t want to be sold to; they can sniff out an ad or shameless product push faster than you can say “Kardashian.”
They don’t want to be talked down to; they’re the do-it-yourself generations that would rather watch a YouTube video on how to fix the washing machine than call a plumber.
They’re reaching for help in all the wrong places; if you can believe it, 67 percent of millennials get their financial advice from Facebook and Twitter.
They’re busy! Millennials and gen Xers have young children, jobs, spouses—and they certainly don’t have time to waste in a sales pitch or 90 minute quarterly meeting.
Knowing these key facts, we knew we had to bring content, trust and value over product sales; be approachable and readily available; be efficient; and give them the tools to be able to both educate themselves and get shit done.
Our product is built on education. If millennials and gen Xers need financial education , then we will be the app to do just that. But the buck doesn’t stop there. We know financial wellness includes education but, to put it crudely, it also includes getting shit done.
Built on behavioral science and psychology, Pocketnest gets to know each user—what makes them tick, what motivates them, what scares them. Then, we coach them through all ten themes of financial wellness, including: assembling a net worth snapshot, budget, debt, insurance, retirement, investments, income tax planning, estate planning, college savings plans, and an annual review.
Along the way, we help them identify gaps in their financial plans and offer guidance on how to fill them. Sure, sometimes it’s something they can do on their own (e.g., put more money into your 401K), and other times it’s something where we recommend they reach out to a financial institution (e.g., increasing life insurance or adding significant cash to an investment portfolio).
Language that makes all the difference
We’re working with a short attention span, here. Not only do young people's eyes glaze over when you start using financial jargon and sales-y buzzwords, but they’re busy! That’s why our voice is purposely approachable, chill, and easy to understand.
Sure, we throw terms like “asset allocation” and “risk tolerance” around, but we bring things down to the ground level where folks who aren’t (self-proclaimed) finance nerds can digest and act on. We want to be the wise older sibling who shares good advice—not the totally unconnected and irrelevant grandfather who just doesn’t “get it” and drones on relentlessly.
Cue our approach. We use a gamified, almost-addictive approach to draw users into the app to keep their financial plan up to date. With push notifications, emails, badges, comparisons to other folks in similar situations, and timely and customized advice, we’re teaching people to build their own financial plan.
And, we only work in small, bite-sized pieces. In only three minutes a week, users can create—and stick to—a comprehensive financial plan. We settled on three minutes, as we see our users taking a pause between Netflix episodes to tackle their plan. Rather than make it a “thing,” we want financial conversations and planning to be built into daily life.
Bringing the (brilliant) tech to market
Before Pocketnest, providing comprehensive financial planning that’s cost-effective to providers and at a scale to reach the masses was unthinkable. Unlike algorithmic trading platforms and robo advisors that primarily address a portion of personal finance (like trading or microsavings), Pocketnest addresses all areas of financial wellness. And, to help traditional advisors who lack a digital experience—Pocketnest was built by and for the next generation of consumers.
We’re not competing with financial institutions. We work for them.
Pocketnest licenses its software to financial institutions and employee wellness programs to help people access financial wellness through deeper relationships with their financial institutions. Pocketnest helps banks, credit unions, wealth advisors, benefit providers, and the like, reach more people, educate and qualify leads faster, and boost cross-sell opportunities—all while helping their customers achieve financial wellness. We help employers boost recruitment, productivity and retention efforts, while helping them offer employees better, more comprehensive employee benefits.
The future of finance
Pocketnest is turning the financial industry on its head, using brilliant tech, hard work and insightful innovation to bring incredible value to all stakeholders.
Interested in learning more? Download the Financial Faces of the Millennial infographic or the 5 Ways Fintech Is Revolutionizing the Wellness Industry white paper.
1PriceWaterhouseCoopers, “Millennials & Financial Literacy— The Struggle with Personal Finance,” 2017
2Financial Advisor Magazine, ”More Younger Millennials Emerge.” 2017
3FICO Millennial Insights Report, 2017
4PriceWaterhouseCoopers Global Private Banking/Wealth Management Survey