February 24, 2017 — Financial Health Assessment; UX UX Land; Sweet Spring Ahead

We’ve had an amazingly warm week here in Boston, culminating with truly warm and sunny days Thursday and Friday (like nearly 70).  I just came back from grabbing lunch — no jacket — and the positive vibe in downtown crossing is so palpable.  March can be a wicked month for Boston weather, so we take what we can, knowing it can all change within hours.

And the good weather (high pressure system?) was also happening inside Cinch HQ located on the ancient and venerable School Street in Boston.  We’re in the middle of a sprint, which means very heads-down and diligent work from our dev and GTT teams and they crank towards a big March release.  It’s a cornerstone piece of work weaving together multiple verticals and decision models, and will begin to integrate parts of “executive function” which is core to Cinch’s ability to act as a fiduciary and watch your back.  Great people love hard and challenging problems, and there’s plenty of that here.

Two other things worthy of a weekly call out:  continued great work on our quantitative financial health assessment models, and a huge leap forward on our UX.

We’ll post something on the assessment tech later, but for now will just say that the discipline and thinking behind it is remarkable.  To really level the playing field for your benefit, we require a very granular and completely personalized set of assessment models to properly prioritize our recommendations, allocate resources to their best use, and make sure what we’re doing is (using a medical term) efficacious.  It’s a daunting task but at the core of our purpose.  We’re lucky to have a dream team of well-known economists, applied math/stat modeling expertise, and the most seasoned risk experts  doing groundbreaking work that’s never been attempted in a dynamic way.  We’re discussing opening up APIs for public access to this system in the future so that anyone can get the benefit of an agenda-free, super-accurate and situation-specific assessment.  I am really proud of this team’s great work.

And the same is true of our UX and design momentum this week.  Their latest launch iteration is absolutely gorgeous.  It balances three key dimensions really, really well:  the view of your financial life that truly, really matters (not what you have, but how you’re doing); a means of taking action in a fluid and efficient way; and the right amount of “open space” for reflection and connection.  After all, while we focus on your financial life, in the end, it has to serve your real life for it to be of any value.

As a financial services guy, I continue to be amazed at how UX and design folks do their work in this domain.  It’s incredibly hard to take something as complex and detailed as your everyday financial life and render it to an elegant, intuitive, and effective design.  We think (as do our users) that the current budgeting and financial apps all suck and are therefore should not be at all emulated.  Even the better designs are hamstrung by zero backend intelligence.  There’s only so many ways you can dress up a mindless restaurant spending alert — sort of the technical equivalent of the adage “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Using design inspiration from fields well outside of financial services, Cinch’s UX team has come up, through many iterations and diligent, hard effort, an approach that just works.  We hope you’ll agree once we open it up out of beta later this year.

Hope you have a great weekend and please fire away with any comments or questions by shooting me a note at sean(at)cinchfinancial(dot).com!

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