What can the co-founder of a fintech unicorn tell us about gamification and innovation? Yaela Shamberg, chief product officer at InvestCloud, shares her thoughts.

Since 2010, InvestCloud has grown significantly from a garage-based tech startup into a fintech unicorn. The international cloud-based digital platform currently handles over $6tn (£4.6tn) of client assets, offering digital financial planning and communication tools, as well as an app library and a ‘financial supermarket’, from which wealth managers and advisers can purchase financial products.

Here are some of Shamberg’s thoughts, which are shared in more detail in an upcoming episode of The WealthTech Show podcast, on how gamification will change the way we interact with our finances, and where she turns for innovative ideas.

Ian Horne: Gamification could get more people to use wealth management and financial advice tools and apps. Where does it fit into your proposition, and what is the key to effective gamification?

Yaela Shamberg: I believe gamification is really about engagement. So it’s not about getting users to complete a specific action. It’s about capturing their current financial situation and goals and then helping guide them along to achieve these goals.

Using our behavioural science framework, we very much use [gamification] throughout. At the beginning of the phase, in the functional design study, we cover it extensively. Then we make sure that, in our design process, we design everything first and we’re designing through that lens, in that framework. We [then] do a bit of an audit where we do a check back.

Looking at specific dynamics of gaming theory, community is a big focus. As humans, we’re driven by community, and as money is such a personal thing, why wouldn’t you have a closed or personal community available to you where you could share information – if you wanted to do so – with a spouse, child, partner, friends, or an advisor? How do you bring a sense of community into things or recommendations?

We know another big [aspect of gamification] is what we call the progression dynamic. Why have people been playing Angry Birds and Candy Crush for seven years now? So that levelling, that progression, how do you make someone feel like they’re progressing towards… maybe their financial goals, maybe it’s financial education? So whatever it is, how do you guide them along and give those rewards that in truth, we are all interested in and subject to as humans.

Again, this is just human behaviour so we very much use that lens at the beginning and then throughout the design process. We also often go back to our clients, after version one or version two [of a project] and we say: ‘Are you ready to take a little more digital risk?’ Because we believe your digital success is directly related to the digital risk that you’re willing to take. And a lot of clients, when they start to tiptoe into the digital realm, are a little timid. The idea of gamification, and behavioural science, feels like a future step for them.

So we have elongated relationships with our clients – it’s not one-and-done. We go back and say: ‘Are we ready to revisit this through this lens’. And oftentimes they are and so then, using the progression dynamic, we’re able to help them progress through and incorporate that into their portals and ultimately have a better experience for their internal users, their external users etc.

Ian Horne: Where do you get your inspiration from? What realms are you looking to for inspiration on what to do next in fintech?

Yaela Shamberg: We’re a big innovation shop, so a lot of it [involves] sitting and working together. We get together as a management team and a product team multiple times a year, we gather across the globe, and start thinking about what’s next. And we always have, not only our eye on what’s next, but we’re also always building what’s next.

Looking outside of our industry has provided a lot of inspiration for us. We started very much as a design company in Los Angeles. No one was starting financial companies in Los Angeles. In addition to ‘don’t name your company InvestCloud’, [we were told] ‘don’t start in Los Angeles’. But we felt by doing something different from the very beginning, it gives us a different perspective. Therefore, we can build a different type of company.

So we have designers from all sorts of industries, that did movies, that did rock videos, death metal stuff, you know, and people that were accountants. We have designers that were architects. So we have a whole bunch of designers that bring in a lot of beautiful ideas and views from outside of our industry, which essentially liberates us from thinking much like the rest of the industry. And we draw a lot of inspiration from that.

We also were big into art. Going out into the art world, living and breathing in it and seeing beautiful things in the way people are consuming other types of data. We’re always looking at how information is being presented and consumed in other areas of our lives.

That also extends, for example, into financial wellness, and we believe strongly in financial wellbeing and wellness – and how do you bring wellness, that we think about outside of our financial lives, into a financial arena? Because if you’re stressed about money, I guarantee that’s not good for your wellbeing.


Gamification and innovation: Lessons from the founder of a fintech unicorn – Citywire

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