Towards integrated personal financial planning

Information barriers and design propositions

According to a recent study, almost half of all Dutch adults are worried about their financial future. When trying to create an overall picture of their financial situation, individuals face a fragmented information landscape consisting of both public and private organizations that each hold a piece of the puzzle.

The objective of this paper is to study the information barriers that individuals face and to formulate design propositions that can empower them to access, use, and share data for financial planning (oversight, insight, and recommendations) more easily.

Drawing on the design science research approach, we have identified a broad set of information barriers that individuals face when seeking to collect or use personal data or to share such data with providers of financial planning services. Barriers include not knowing where to start, lack of a single information source, the need to remember multiple digital identities, time consuming data search (paper and digital), manual data entry processes in portals and apps, the need for paper signatures, different data definitions, and lack of control over how the data are used. The overall design proposition is that removal of the barriers identified requires collective action across the various financial domains (i.e. pensions, mortgages,banking, insurance, and public services). Such collective action needs to develop and govern a cross-domain infrastructure for information exchange, for both financial planning and tailored service delivery. This paper identifies the following solution components (or building blocks) for such a cross-domain infrastructure: (1) personal data spaces for secure personal data management, (2) easy-to-use, high-level assurance electronic IDs linked to the personal data spaces and enabling qualified electronic signatures, (3) data specifications (standardization of syntax, semantics, and structure) allowing for automated data processing, (4) remotely accessible tooling/functionalities for data aggregation, analysis, and self-service planning or via specialized financial planning tools, (5) compliant interaction processes for automation of information collection, exchange, processing, and service delivery, (6) secure technical interfaces (APIs) for information sharing (posting and retrieving data, including consent) that can be used by all actors across multiple financial domains, (7) support for organizations that wish to use the above components, and (8) a cross-domain public-private governance that steers the development and adoption of the various solution components.

How to proceed? This paper introduces three scenarios for developing a cross-domain infrastructure: (I) a coalition of companies takes the lead, (II) the public sector takes the lead, or (III) public-private collaboration flanked by academics (research questions, theories, and methodologies facilitate the configuration and design of the cross-domain infrastructure and its governance). Future research can focus on developing, implementing, evaluating, and improving these components in a living lab or pilot setting that includes financial service providers, data providers, individuals/households, and financial planning tool providers.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.


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