“How much money do people typically imagine they should have when saving for emergency needs? Is that different from what they need for the children’s education? What kinds of conversations are field staff having?
These and similar questions are quite familiar to financial institutions trying to mobilize long-term savings from low-income clients through their field staff. In this blog post, we share the story of how mobile application usage data allowed SAJIDA Foundation, an OPTIX partner from Bangladesh to gain insights into member-staff conversations without actually being there: a kind of virtual “fly on the wall”. They gained an unprecedented look into how financial planning really unfolds as they sought to tailor a term-deposit product to people’s needs.
In October 2017, we introduced the Financial Advisory Services (FAS) mobile app designed to allow field officers at SAJIDA Foundation to identify members (as SAJIDA calls its clients) with longer-term savings potential, structure conversations around life goals, and simulate scenarios to arrive at appropriate amounts and terms for the term-deposit savings account.
Built into the FAS app is the capability to collect detailed usage data, including when and where the app was used, what actions were undertaken, and what information was entered to simulate scenarios. Any interaction on the device, such as the click of a button, filling in a text field, or submitting a form, is recorded. More than 20 officers used the FAS in 2017 and undertook 11,793 actions on the app. By threading together consecutive actions, we can approximately reconstruct actual conversations.
FAS app frames conversations as intended…and then some
When starting a conversation, field officers mention most of the savings goals the FAS offers (Figure 1). Users were able to choose from a list of eight specific goals and one “other”. These goals are chosen based on qualitative research with members and staff, and appear to be a fairly accurate representation of member savings goals. “Emergency Needs” is the most common, featuring in 31 percent of the conversations. The icon “For Children” comes second, at 25 percent. “Livestock” features in only 1 percent of the conversations, leading us to question its permanence on the goal screen.