4 Trends in Finance

What Matters 2023 – Human Finance Trends

Do you feel it? It’s different this time, right? New Year 2023. No back to normal. Are you anxious or excited? Perhaps a bit of both…

The evidence is: we are at a unique point in time, caught between old and new Worlds…an unprecedented level of uncertainty, technology accelerating, nudging and nudging us…to go forward, faster.

Pausing if we can for a moment, we seem to have arrived at an event horizon, teetering on the edge…surveying what some call a brittle and fragmented World…better perhaps in some ways, worse in others…hard for many to make sense of. And amid all this chaos…our What Matters Report 2023 speaks to people’s imaginations with 4 Meaning Drivers and 12 trends that are grounded in what we truly need.

1. Bank in your Back Pocket

The futurists call it the “permacrisis”, perhaps we all have to be “preppers” now…ready for the unexpected, aspiring above all else to be ‘adaptable’ in this world.
So, we carry our finances in our back pocket, “super app stylin”…ever ready to swipe our e-cash, supercharge our savings, grab investments from our roboadvisor or ‘snack-up’ on insurance protection. Street smart has become about connecting with what’s local…spending, investing and protecting what’s close, what matters in our everyday lives…a bit wiser… the promises of globalisation.

Strange that people think of money and finance as so rational…something for computers and spreadsheets…it’s become so fundamentally…human.

More than ever our wealth connects to our health. Money simplified = better budgeting = more control = less stress. That’s why so many banks and insurance apps now offer all sorts of wellbeing tools. Embedded finance they call it, embedded or interconnected with our lives…everything in the clouds now.


2. From Personalized to Deeply Personal

Beyond AI personalization we will still need the empathy and personal interactions for some things, like financial planning and wealth management…interestingly financial therapy and counselling is growing these last few years…some brands starting to go beyond rational financial planning for those facing unfortunate circumstances or deeper self-limiting beliefs that affect their confidence in the World…eg. Commonwealth Bank launched Financial Independence Hub to combat financial abuse.

This aspiration for the personalized and the personal also points to a deeper shift happening…in identity…watch a chat show today and you are sure to discover a discussion of evolving labels and shifting narratives about who we each are or are not…

It’s heartening to see brands exploring opportunities in doing a lot more to make financial services more accessible and inclusive…whether it’s neobanks for underserved communities in US, loans for female entrepreneurs in Africa, insurance for LGBTQ+ families in Hong Kong, or democratized investment platforms such as Ajaib harnessing inclusive next-generation fintech in Indonesia.

Certainly, life trajectories are increasingly non-linear. Kids are learning to invest, Gen Z are monetizing content for income, stay-at-home dads are making an income from micro-tasking. Non-traditional families, fluid sexualities and the increasing blurring of the digital world into the non-digital can make it feel like rules are continually bending, breaking being reset.

Like the Toy Story Dog, Slinky, we are being stretched and twisted in new directions over our lives. Forget retirement, expect ‘agetech’ to support the “rewirement” of the over 50s…the UK government is said to be considering giving over-50s tax breaks for getting back into work after a career break. As Serena Williams said “I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. Maybe the best way to describe what I’m up to is evolution.”

While Gen Z who have side hustles or a second job, will likely be tapping into the growing number of apps and platforms that support the creative or gig economy. No wonder fintechs are gamifying financial education…your kids will be able to earn and invest their money in far more diverse ways than you ‘boomers’ probably did at their age..

Meanwhile Prudential Asia’s app Pulse even reads our faces for signs of stress now…we’ve never before had so much feedback on who we are, how we feel…imagine it will only increase, neuro, hormonal, biological feedback…all in the palms of our hand…more data for the AI to ‘super-personalize’ experiences for us, we hope…

GrabFin Banking in Your Back Pocket.
Go Henry is on a mission to make every kid smart with their money

3. Relationships that Enrich Us

So brands will give more access to a range of financial supports, hopefully empowering many peoples’ lives for the better…But you could be forgiven if you felt lonelier and more detached in this brave new world that is emerging.

Just as many of our kids are emerging to more consciously approach friendships after Covid lockdowns, we are all going to become more intentional with and choosier in our relationships. We have realised the impact of socialisation on our health and wellbeing in general. Gyms and health clubs are fast becoming social clubs. New platforms are helping us to co-own homes and co-share living spaces. Nationwide promises to keep branches open in remote communities where people face loneliness.

Yet likely many social connections will remain online. Those of us working ‘home alone’ can now dial into virtual co-working worlds to be “present” with a “flock” of similar home workers. One platform offers “compassionate comedians,” trained in mental wellbeing and killer one-liners, to bring your employees together through the power of shared laughter.

Inevitably, we will be drawn to more intimate, so called “niche communities” to connect with like-minded people who share our interests, concerns and questions. For finance, we can expect the continued growth in personal finance communities, as well as ever present Finfluencers or FinTokkers who for Gen Z especially “speak our language,” distil complex principles into digestible formats, and educate us based on their own mistakes and lessons.

If that isn’t enough to keep you on the computer in your home office or spare bedroom, consider that many leading banks have already made a stake in the metaverse and become friendlier to NRT, digital currencies and crypto…For those of you who have had a light sabre duel with Darth Vader using Occulus Quest, it’s clear there is opportunity for some of our dreary financial interactions to get a lot more interesting…No wonder banks are falling over themselves to get a stake in the land of the metaverse…with aspirations to build branches, ATMs, games, art galleries, conferences, training, concerts and more in this new world – keen to reinvent experiences to inspire and educate customers in new ways.

For those looking for deeper financial connections, expect crowdfunding and P2P platforms to grow…blockchain will also be used to test new financial models like lending circles, friendship-based insurance offers you the ability to own and have a stake in your favourite football team’s success, and who knows…maybe the power of decentralized “we” will even revolutionize the whole capitalist system as we know it.

4. Guardians for the Universe

Finally, we need to talk about the Planet…in the grand scheme of things (and people)… With all the talk so far about personal empowerment, inclusivity and collaboration you would be right to have the impression we are seeing a broader shift in finance… away from the Gordon Gecko, ”greed is good”, type “Masters of the Universe”. Indeed, as many look to more regenerative futures, the traditional kind of winner takes all world of finance, striving for material accumulation of wealth no matter the cost is challenged.

With uncertainty being the only given, we’re in need of something to hold onto; we need hope to deal with these hard times. From connecting to nature and the universe around us, to stimulating our senses, we’re finding ways to cope and establish meaning via phenomena that are higher in power and purpose.

The green finance ecosystem is expanding rapidly: consumer payments / rewards with automated carbon accounting, green investment platforms, environment risk analysis for insurance, public/private investments projects promoting biodiversity and so on. Whilst we are seeing lots more activity in this space, so much more needs to be done, especially at tangible local community levels, rather than just broader global goals, or worse just communications which risk criticism of greenwashing. What’s interesting is that as we strive for hope in the future, spirituality and finance maybe more connected than you think. After all who hasn’t tried to manifest themselves a bit more luck in their investments?

More seriously Islamic finance and fintech is expanding, and in the US we see the popularity of biblical wealth management events for example.

For the more secular among us there are global insurers like Zurich who have positioned their brand around ‘informed optimism’.

HSBC enters metaverse to offer immersive artwork and experiences
Islamic finance expands, working against sinful transactions 'Riba'

So as you look to the future, ask yourself what it means for your brand if finance becomes more human How can you offer people more control in their everyday lives? Can you get personalised or even deeply personal? What social connections can you enable which would enrich their lives?   How can you work together to guard hope for future generations?  

Our new consumer study combines cultural and macro analysis, collaboration with leading-edge consumers, and a 17-market quantification, to reveal what matters to people in 2023.

Get in touch to see how these global consumer trends are manifesting in the area of Finance and how our proprietary insight community platform Square can help you navigate these futures. 

You might also be interested in

Aibo Robot Dog

3 Trends in Domestic Appliances & Household Care

Written by Anita Janssen

Take a closer look at 3 trends in domestic appliances & Household care from our What Matters 2023 Report. Read more here.


3 Trends in Beauty

Written by Delphine Vantomme

Take a deeper dive into what trends are coming up in Beauty. A closer look at the industry from our What Matters Trend Report.

12 Emerging Trends from Do What Matters Report

4 emerging trends in consumer expectations

Written by Lily Charnock

Want to find out what matters to consumers in 2023? Check out this blog post for an insight into the emerging consumer trends for this year.