Design principles to #investlikeagirl

By Hannah Lippe

I have two sisters. They frustrate me to no end – but they also inspire me beyond belief.

My older sister, Amy, is 30, a seventh-grade teacher, long distance cyclist, Harvard University grad, voracious reader of the New Yorker, and the best party planner you will ever encounter.

My younger sister, Emily, is 26, studied math, dominates Crossfit competitions, performs in hip hop shows, coaches basketball, hand-makes dumplings, and single-handedly holds up the customer support team of a Silicon Valley startup.

Suffice to say, these sisters of mine are a couple of bosses. They are tough, talented, and taking the world by storm. And, yet, they both struggle to understand what to do with their money.

Now, when I say they struggle, I don’t mean they spend too much or don’t understand budgeting. I mean they don’t see themselves as investors. They don’t know where to go to talk about their finances or how to speak openly about their financial fears.

Over the past year, the Design Thinking team explored how to empower young women like Amy and Emily to take charge of their finances. We experimented with prototypes including community meetings, financial “starter kits,” and a podcast to gain deeper insight into the relationship between young women and their money.

We learned that young professional women need a way to match their financial confidence with the confidence they feel in the rest of their lives.

We developed design principles – mandates stated from the user’s perspective – to guide subsequent ideas. Design principles are solution-agnostic, which means we can use them to help inform many potential solutions.
Our design principles include:

  • Prove to me you know your stuff. If you’re going to give me advice, you better walk the walk.
  • Let’s play on the same team. I want to know you understand my goals and you’ve got my back.
  • Don’t put any pressure on me. If you cause me anxiety, I’ll tune out.
  • Show me who you are and why you care. Make me feel connected to the company and addressed like an individual with unique needs.
  • Make me feel smart. I want to feel like I’m on top of my game, even if I still have questions.
  • Give me something to do – but only when I’m ready! I am ready to take action, but I want instructions that match where I am in life.
  • Reassure me that I’ll be okay, even if I mess up. I won’t try new things if I don’t think I can fix a mistake.

Most important, when developing new products, services, and experiences, we must put the women we know at the forefront. They are more complex than a stock photo, motivated more by their dreams than their portfolio, and undoubtedly are economic and social forces to be reckoned with.