Delivering meaning through money: 3 trends in finance

How the financial sector can be more human in times of unprecedented uncertainty and technological acceleration.

A person smiling at the camera holiding their phone and a bank card
A person smiling at the camera holiding their phone and a bank card

Scott Lee

10 March 2023

5 min read

At this point in time, we’re caught between old and new worlds. Pausing amidst unprecedented uncertainty and technological acceleration, we’re teetering on the edge, surveying a fragmented world. Amidst the chaos there is reasoning, understanding and a collective desire for meaning.

Four drivers underpin this desire whilst 12 trends define what matters to people in 2023. In Asia, at least, these are manifesting in the financial services industry across digital banking and insurance, fintech and beyond.


Bank in your back pocket: the search for systems that give back

Permacrisis will make ‘preppers’ of us all. We aspire to be adaptable and strive to withstand the unexpected.

Thankfully, with our finances in our back pockets, we’re ready to swipe our e-cash, supercharge our savings, grab investments and snack on insurance products. Connecting with local providers is the new street smart. Spending, investing and protecting what’s close and what matters supersedes the lure of globalisation. Take, Grab providing everyday services like deliveries, mobility, financial services and more.


Everyday Everything


Whilst some think of money as electronic, it is in fact perfectly human, connecting to our health and wellbeing more than ever. Simple finances equal better budgeting, equals more control, equals less stress. It’s why so many banking and insurance apps offer wellbeing tools, embedding wealth with health.


From personalised to deeply personal: a desire for description not definition

The need for human empathy and personal interaction remains in financial services, whether that’s estate planning, wealth management or financial therapy. But beyond the rational, there is an aspiration for personalisation at a deeper level. Identity, labels and narratives matter. It’s heartening to see brands exploring this space and making financial services more accessible and inclusive, from neobanks for the underserved communities, loans for female entrepreneurs, insurance for LGBTQ+ families, or democratized investment platforms.

As our lives become increasingly non-linear, we see Gen Alpha learning to invest, Gen Z monetizing content and Gen X building multi-hyphen careers. Non-traditional families, fluid sexualities and the blurring of online and offline worlds make us feel like the rules are bending, breaking and being reset.

We’re being stretched and twisted in new directions over the course of our lives. Forget retirement, expect agetech to support the ‘rewirement’ of the over 50s. Meanwhile, Gen Z are tapping into the growing number of apps and platforms that can support side hustles and second jobs. It’s no wonder that fintechs are gamifying financial education, the next generation will be able to earn and invest their money in far more diverse ways than their parents ever have.


saving habits app


Relationships that enrich us: the hunt for healthy connections

Despite brands offering greater access to other people, many of us are still left feeling lonely in this big new world. Just as the next generation have become more conscious of their post-lockdown friendships, adults too are being more intentional with and choosier in their relationships. We’re aware of the impact of socialisation on our health and wellbeing, with gyms and health clubs fast becoming go-to social spaces. New platforms are helping us to co-own homes and co-share living spaces with people we trust, whilst trusted brands are helping many of us to retain in-person connections where communities are sparse.

Inevitably, we’ll be drawn into more intimate, niche communities to connect with like-minded people. For finance, we can expect the continued growth of personal finance communities, as well as finfluencers who speak the language of the next generation. Many leading banks, like HSBC with their Metaverse Gallery, have already claimed a stake in the metaverse and become friendlier to NRT, digital currencies and crypto. It’s like that dreary financial interactions will get a lot more interesting in the future!

For those looking for deeper connections, expect crowdfunding and P2P platforms to grow. Blockchain will also be sued to test new financial models like lending circles, friendship-based insurance offers, and co-owned football clubs. Maybe decentralized finance will once day revolutionise the capitalist system as we know it.


HSBC metaverse avators


Guardians for the universe: in pursuit of a higher power and purpose

As we look to more regenerative futures, the traditional ‘winner takes all’ world of finance – striving for material accumulation of wealth no matter the cost – will be challenged. We’re in need of something to hold on to, from connecting to nature and the universe, to stimulating our senses. We’re finding ways to cope and establish meaning via a higher power.

In light of this, the green finance ecosystem is expanding rapidly. Automated carbon accounting, green investment platforms, environment risk analysis for insurance, and more. At a local level, more can be done. Spirituality and finance may be more connected than we think, after all, who hasn’t tried to manifest themselves a bit more luck in their investments? Not only is Islamic finance and fintech expanding, so too is the popularity of biblical wealth management events. For the more secular, informed optimism might be the best position to take. Wahed, for example is an online  investing platform that’s making investing in line with Halal values more accessible, easy and affordable.

Wahed app


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 lives? Can you get personal or even deeply personal? What social connections can you enable to enrich life? How can you work together to give hope to future generations?

To understand what matters in finance, download our latest global What Matters report combining cultural and macro analysis, qualitative exploration with leading-edge changemakers and a 17-market quantification.


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