When ex-Tower Investments CEO Sam Stubbs approached Previously Unavailable in 2015, he’d spent a year or so working on how to establish a disruptive KiwiSaver scheme. His idea was to use passive investing and digital delivery to create a much lower-cost KiwiSaver. Even better, he wanted to operate as a not-for-profit to deliver even greater savings and upside benefit to Kiwis.
Previously Unavailable got involved to lead the brand strategy and customer experience design for Simplicity – the brand name Sam had settled on, as it suggested an antidote to the counterproductive complexity of the financial services industry.
Simplicity KiwiSaver is now New Zealand’s fastest-growing KiwiSaver provider, operating at a cost of acquisition of around 20% of the market average, and has become a coveted ‘default KiwiSaver fund’.
“Previously Unavailable are our innovation go-to people. To find out what’s hot and what’s not, they’re our first call. But most importantly, they’re a critical input into working out whether an idea will actually work in the marketplace. It’s easy to be seduced by innovation, but it’s getting the idea to actually work in the marketplace that’s their special sauce.”
Simplicity’s not-for-profit business model had already been determined: charge lower fees by operating as a digital self-service provider and cutting out the profit cost passed on to members.
We needed to work out how to deliver a brand and digital experience that would showcase the benefits of this model, and exploit the possibilities of digital to create a better user experience, even though it was self-service.
This wasn’t simply about finding a brand positioning, but finding a way to make users more informed about, and in control of, their KiwiSaver.
We needed to find a creative concept that brought to life the financial benefit of a low-fee provider, with an operational model that put service and control in the hands of the user.
Our research and development involved meeting with KiwiSaver members and understanding their current user journey and experience. Then off the back of this, testing brand positioning and UX feature ideas toward a final recommendation.
One big insight came out of this process, leading to the creation of several feature prototypes that we tested on the fly: Nobody knew what changing their KiwiSaver provider, or contributions, would mean when they retired.
People’s knowledge of their KiwiSaver balance was generally poor. Questions like ‘how much do you have saved?’, ‘how much are you paying in fees?’, ‘how much do you expect to have at 65?’ and ‘do you know how this could change if you moved to a growth fund?’ were met with blank stares.
To address this we developed two concepts:
‘The Simplicity Difference’ – a measure of how much better off you’d be, at retirement, if you switched to Simplicity. This figure would become the heart of Simplicity’s brand positioning – focused not on the ‘cheapness’ of low fees, but on how those low fees compounded to make you far better off in retirement.
And an app interface that showed people their balance today, what that would be worth at 65, and how that eventual balance would be affected if they changed their contribution amount or their fund type. This was the first time KiwiSaver information had ever been made this transparent.
When we kicked off our process in October 2015, Sam was determined to launch less than a year later. For a financial services company, this is quick work.
We briefed the findings and recommendations of our process to the build team in March 2016, and Simplicity was launched at the beginning of August that same year.