Financial Services

ReD helps financial institutions align with the reality of their customers’ needs and lives; developing engagements that create trust, peace of mind, and financial wellbeing for people. In each of our financial services projects we have uncovered a fundamental gap between what the industry considers valuable for customers and what customers actually value. By understanding why customers do what they do and what they struggle with, we enable banks, insurance companies and pension providers to create offerings that excite their customers and keep their business one step ahead of the competition. Never has this been more important in an industry where profits are being squeezed, the competitive landscape is changing, and the engagement model is undergoing fundamental changes.

ReD partners with the financial institutions that dare to call into question current industry orthodoxies and assumptions. Together, we develop responses to some of the most pressing issues financials services face today. As finance becomes more digital, how do you make your offerings stand out? When customers interact more on mobile and less in branches, how do you build a relationship with them?  When people’s lives are changing, how do you make sure your offerings address people’s new aspirations and fears? 

Together with our clients, we explore widely held beliefs of the industry, developing deep insights into the everyday lives of customers and translating those insights into concrete solutions. Our work focuses on three main areas:

  • Transitioning to a more digital customer engagement model
  • Building stronger and more profitable customer relationships
  • Unlocking new sources of growth by redefining the role of a financial institution

Transitioning to a more digital customer engagement model

Everyone agrees that the future of financial services needs to be more digital, yet most companies struggle to really engage the majority of their customers in their digital offerings. Take one of the largest European banks. They have spent the past three years launching numerous initiatives and services to grow the number of digitally engaged customers, but are having a hard time moving adoption beyond 25%. 

These efforts are failing because they make the wrong assumption about how to digitize finance. People’s relationship to money is very different from their relationship to shopping, running, and entertainment - it is much more emotionally charged, sensitive, and private than most aspects of their lives. Consequently, there are distinct challenges to overcome when financial services go digital. Looking to other industries for a roadmap most financial service providers have a lot of ideas about how to drive their digital transformation but neglect this fundamental difference. How can you be sure you are making the right bets when the basic assumption about how to digitize finance is flawed? Can you risk a €100+ million investment in new digital offerings that may be neglecting what people need?

The clients we work for believe it is time to take a fresh look at what it means to be a financial institution.

We work with financial institutions to drive the transition to a more digital customer engagement model, developing new offerings, and ensuring the majority of customers adopt them. This means understanding what will make customers experience new digital offerings as a benefit rather than a hassle; how to hit the right balance between physical and digital; how to utilize the opportunity that digital brings for companies to scale; and to personalize offerings and customer interactions. We develop the insights and value propositions that set the direction for digital transformations and new offerings. Together with our clients we work to develop the briefs, concepts, and roadmaps that enable them to bet on the most impactful initiatives.

In finance, there is a lot to gain from getting people and digital right. Our clients have been able to realize the cost-saving potential of digital while increasing customer retention, boosting customer loyalty, and driving cross-selling. One of our clients managed to reduce customer churn by 50% and increase assets and insurance premiums, all within 2 years and without increasing the costs of servicing customers. They achieved this by knowing exactly how and what to digitize.

Building stronger and profitable customer relationships

Banks, insurance companies, and pension providers are looking to get more profit and organic growth out of their existing customer base, hoping to significantly increase the number of products sold per customer. With millions of customers, there is a huge revenue potential in increasing the number of products per customer. Yet, for most of the biggest banks they see as low as 1.3 – 1.5 products per customer. This is not easy to solve. As an industry, financial services have long struggled to create a strong connection with their customers. Today, 8 out of 10 customers define their banking relationship as transactional, failing to provide them with anything more meaningful than utility-like services. How can banks build deeper relationships, not just facilitate transactions? How can they sell more products per customer without distorting employee incentives and the culture of the company? Being the best company for transactions may work to improve the customer experience in the short-term. However, in the long-term, as transactions are becoming commoditized, relationships will drive real growth and increase product penetration.

Today, 8 out of 10 customers define their banking relationship as transactional, failing to provide them with anything more meaningful than utility-like services. How can banks build deeper relationships, not just facilitate transactions?


Together with our clients, we uncover why people have few financial products today, the root drivers for deeper customer engagement, and the main barriers for increasing customer product penetration. Based on these insights, we work with our clients to create a unique proposition for how to build stronger customer relationships, identifying and defining the most impactful initiatives to increase products sold per customer. This approach has proven successful – One of our clients were able to sell more products and increase value per product while increasing customer loyalty and retention, thereby providing a stronger bulwark against competition.

Unlocking new sources of growth by redefining the role of a financial institution

In a recent study on financial services, we saw a fundamental shift in how people relate to their money and what their goals are for their financial lives. People are struggling to gain agency over their finances and to determine how best to manage them. How can the financial industry become a co-producer of people’s financial futures rather than just a provider of financial products?

Across studies and different industries, we see big shifts in how people live and work. These changes impact the aspirations, fears, concerns, and expectations that financial institutions can address for their customers. What are the new financial needs that occur as people’s lives become increasingly less stable and consistent? What are the new aspirations, worries, and fears that arise when people’s careers and life journeys become more unpredictable? What is the role of a bank, pension provider, and insurance company in domains such as mobility, the sharing economy, and connected homes?

The clients we work for believe it is time to take a fresh look at what it means to be a financial institution. They look for emerging needs and aspirations to tap into. They are curious and willing to venture into new business areas, and they believe a financial institution can play a more relevant and profound role in people’s lives than they do today. Evidence from our studies demonstrates that they are correct. Armed with the right insights, a clear direction, and clearly defined offerings, one of out clients were able to build a new business venture, fuelling not only their own bottom-line but also forging stronger ties with their customers. 

Related cases

How Anthropology Can Benefit Customer Service in the Pension Industry

In this interview, John Glottrup of Danica Pension walks World Finance through its ingenious method of using anthropology and ethnography to provide tailor-made financial products. By focusing on the events that can transform consumers’ lives, he explains, pension providers can craft concepts, service models, and advisory events, that better serve customer needs. And he introduces the simplest consumer interface that Danica has developed, that is helping consumers realise they actually need to take action to secure their financial future.

Read the full interview on World Finance.

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