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Q&A with Elin Helander

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Elin Helander, Founder of Whateverland

How could you describe your career path in few words?

I’m a cognitive scientist who for the last couple of years have worked as a Chief Science Officer in finance. Financial decisions and how they are made and how they affect our life and wellbeing is what brought me here. I’m the founder of and a consultant at Whateverland - an interdisciplinary consultancy firm specializing in behavioral design. Before that I was the Chief Science Officer at fintech companies Dreams (B2C) and later Dreams Technology (B2B2C) and worked with what is starting to be called ‘Engagement Banking’.

What are the highlights of banking transformations in 2022? can you give us some major examples? And what is being forgotten/neglected?

It is all about digital transformation. How to attract, connect, engage, and keep customers digitally. However, don’t forget the physical spaces where you meet with your customers, and what communication strategies are being applied between bank and customer. How do you transform your branches to places Millennials and Gen Z want to go and feel comfortable at? Banks need to make sure the customer experience with their brand is seamless when moving between digital and physical, as most customers do. 

At Whateverland we call this Motivational Banking and is about building motivational and inclusive financial experiences by applying insights from psychology, neuroscience, cognitive sciences, and behavioral economics. Motivational banking is holistic and goes beyond only digital experiences (Engagement banking) and also takes into account the design of physical spaces and communication strategies with customers to build trust, motivation and action creation. 

In your opinion, what are the transformation axes that are becoming more important for banks in the context of 2023?

Every business is in the behavioral business, including finance. It’s all about understanding people. How small changes in context can have big impacts on behaviors. A few banks have gotten this and have their internal behavioral science teams, and maybe even a Chief Behavioral Officer, or similar. BBVA is an example, and fintech companies like Dreams Technology and Qapital. This is great, and something we will see much more of in the future. It will be impossible to stay relevant without this expertise, and the expertise must be represented on C-level. 

It can be hard to get started. When the competence is not represented in-house it can be hard to hire the first right type of profiles. Take help from consultants to get started and set up internal strategies and processes to be more behaviorally informed as a company.

Based on your recent experiences, and if you have one piece of advice to give for the success of transformation projects, what would it be?

Finance is a homogeneous industry. My advice is to bring in more diversity - and I don’t mean diversity in its classic term which is obviously a must -  but also diversity when it comes to different educational and professional backgrounds. What is finance all about? It’s about helping people; vulnerable customers, affluent ones, or SMEs. It is all about understanding people. Thus, an understanding of peoples’ decision making processes, how the environment affects our preferences and behaviors are key. And understanding what value customers are seeking, beyond interest rates and low fees. If you don’t have a strong value alignment between your business KPIs and what the end-customer wants, it will be hard.

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