Discover your money personality

Quirk is a personal finance app that helps young people learn about and manage their finances according to their personality and interests, so that they can ultimately make better financial decisions that align with their life goals.


What is the problem?

T his service evolved from research on the ‘Spark’ design proposition where the team explored how best to customise financial services to people’s personalities. Spark helped people discover their money personality and then offered tailored insights and tips to align their spending with their personality, and easier access to financial services based on a financial wellbeing score dependent on the user’s behaviour. The proposition ‘Spark’, demonstrated clear demand and user engagement, but raised questions about how vulnerable these systems may be to bias (against particular personalities), with users gaming the system or faking their behaviour to improve their financial wellbeing score.

Quirk is the next evolution of Spark- The team set out to launch Quirk to the market and had to take a more refined approach, which wouldn’t expose customers to Spark’s vulnerabilities. Quirk adapted its focus from “wellbeing and happiness” to “financial health” because most people still struggle to manage money. In the UK, 40% of people don’t have savings, 44% of 16-24 year olds have dipped into their overdraft in the past year, and 84% of adults feel they aren’t financially literate after leaving high school.  With this statistical backdrop, the team found that financial services get better engagement from users when the focus is on building financial literacy and improving financial health (saving more/getting out of debt) rather than about how much happiness can be gained through optimising spending to your personality.

Additionally, the team found that startups generally have to start their life by focusing on one achievable feature that users need and expand the offering later, once the user base has grown. In this instance, as financial services are highly regulated, it was more appropriate to focus on financial literacy and build a product that focused on personal finance management. Particularly because financial wellbeing starts with financial literacy, this would lend itself well to expanding into other features later.

Find out how we ‘Updated the strategic questions’ to define the design research strategy.
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Early Testing and Development

Over the course of this prototyping and development round, the team developed multiple prototypes of many different forms to understand how people engage with the concept, how the experience of the service should be structured and how it could be branded. They also worked with psychologists to develop a more robust personality test that would help identify personality types.

One of the first things that was established was that the initial ambition of ‘Spark’ was not achievable because there was no ‘go-to-market’ strategy. Therefore, it was imperative for the product to be based on the most useful feature that can be built rapidly and then expanded on later.

The team developed clickable prototypes that were used by research participants to model an ideal service experience. Through this process, they tested a feature that connects multiple bank accounts to the app to give users an overview of their finances. Testing showed that people liked the feature, but were uneasy about going through a bank lining process that seemed like quite a significant data-sharing commitment before really understanding the value of the app. Through an iterative development process, the team arranged the onboarding experience so that users first took the personality test (which most people get value from) and then had a brief guided tour experience in the app before being asked to connect up their bank accounts.

Additionally, the team tested the service messaging and adverts and found that a fine balance had to be struck between highlighting the feature of connecting your bank accounts and getting an overview of finances, without seeming too much like a bank. It was important to differentiate Quirk from a bank as it would raise users’ expectations of features and also cause friction in getting them onboarded with Quirk.

Jump to:



Spark is a service that helps you discover your financial personality to align it with your consumption and help you make better financial decisions and achieve financial health and wellbeing.

Find out how we ‘Reframed the user value hypotheses’.
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What is Quirk?

Following the detailed analysis of the prototyping and development round, the team refined the proposal and developed a native mobile app, available in beta on both the Apple App store and the Android Play store.

Quirk was positioned as a personal finance app that helps young people learn about and manage their finances according to their personality and interests, so that they can ultimately make better financial decisions that align with their life goals.

These are it’s core features:


Discover your money personality

Quirk has developed its own proprietary test based on an academic study that uses the established personality frameworks to assess money attitudes and financial behaviour. People complete a quiz about their personality and money habits, which matches them with one of four personas: The Blissful, The Artist, The Optimiser and The Explorer, each of which have inherent traits and relationships with money that already help the user understand their own behaviour better. This assessment then helps tailor the rest of the service to the user’s personality type. Money doesn’t equal happiness, but when people spend their money according to their personality, it can lead to more happiness.


Track your spending across accounts

Quirk helps you connect all your accounts from multiple providers into the service so that you can get a comprehensive overview of all your finances. It allows you to set up a spending plan, so you can track your discretionary spending according to different merchants, categories, or tracking your recurring payments in one place.


Tailored insights

Quirk identifies key behavioural traits and money attitudes as well as assesses a user’s financial situation to better tailor their recommendations. This can vary from simplifying the user experience and language, to providing relevant educational content or providing tips and recommendations for different financial products. Quirk also provides data insights that help users better understand where their money is going and if they are hitting their budget and saving goals over time.

The science behind it

To better understand the drivers of what influences financial wellbeing, we found some interesting academic literature. The first widespread research study on money and happiness came from Dan Kahneman and Angus Deaton, Nobel winning economists who first discussed a ‘satiation point’ the point at which greater household income is not associated with greater happiness. That number was $75,000 or about £60,000. A more recent study that used Gallup’s World agreed with this number, but in relation to the shorter term, ‘emotional wellbeing’ how you felt in the past few days. In relation to ‘life satisfaction’, which is looking at your life as a whole, that satiation point  occurs at $95,000 as a global average. It helped reinforce that after a certain point having more money does not necessarily mean more wellbeing and happiness.

 Another study we found early on in the design process came from Cambridge University in which researchers Sandra Matz and Joe Gladstone found that people who spent more money on purchases, which matched their personality, were happier. What’s even more fascinating is that matching spending with personality showed a bigger effect on someone’s happiness than their income or total spending. Namely, it’s not about how much you spend, but how you spend it. This is linked to a wider concept in happiness research of ‘cognitive congruity’, doing things in accordance with the person you believe you are, which gave us the inspiration to help personalise financial management.

With Quirk, we set out to understand these variables a bit better and we designed our own study in which we surveyed a large representative sample of the UK population over a number of personality, happiness, and money parameters in order to find new correlations. We found that personality traits and attitudes about money can influence financial behaviour and we used these to come up with a primary set of ‘money personalities’ that help users better understand their financial behaviour, and also helps tailor how they spend and save their money in a way that increases their financial wellbeing.

Find out how we did ‘Field research’.

The trial

Based on this entire round of research and prototyping, the team developed a native app that would be available for Apple and Android users. Throughout the development of the service, a large effort was made to develop an online following of users, by writing content, promoting the website, advertising on instagram to capture users who were interested in the service. This enabled the team to fill their initial beta trial of 100 users. Over the course of 2 months, the team was able to gather a range of insights about engagement with the service.


Overall metrics demonstrate good engagement

Overall the basic performance indicators from the trial demonstrated that the service was well received by most users. Throughout the app’s trial period, 75% of users completed onboarding and users checked in with the app at least one a week, with an average number of three bank accounts connected to the app per person.

Through the tracking of the advertising campaign, the team were able to discern that users were most interested in improving and learning about credit and building up savings, which was great feedback for future features Quirk can implement.

Additionally, approximately 96% of all those who installed the app completed the quiz. This demonstrates that almost everyone who downloaded the app was sufficiently engaged enough with one of the main features that they went through a fairly lengthy process of completing the personality test. This was a distinct indication that users were craving a personalised perspective on their finances.


Personality assessments are working

Another marker of success for the service is that all the four Quirk personality types were equally represented in the trial. This demonstrates that the quiz attracted users who typically didn’t like to engage with financial services. If that were not the case, there would be imbalances in personality types between the users. Another demonstration of the efficacy of the personality test is that it correctly predicted the behaviour of the users in the app. For example, the users who check the app most frequently are users who are defined by the quiz as ‘optimisers’ who would naturally monitor their finances more closely. This is an exciting prospect because it demonstrates the opportunity for creating highly personalised services and offerings once the service has gathered more data.


This is the right user

The other outcome of the trial is that the service is reaching its intended target user. The service positions itself as offering tailored education and recommendation, and during the trial, it attracted young people who were looking to build up their financial literacy.So, these users are being drawn to the service because it offers personalised financial recommendations, while educating them —ultimately demonstrating a strong match between user need and service proposition.

This also gives a clear focus for the future of Quirk. Currently, the main features c are the personality test and the clearer financial tracking. Now, the priority can be to strengthen the personalised recommendation capabilities that can support people in deciding what to do next.

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Emerging discussions

Automating or enabling

Within app development discourse, there is a logic that users must get quick value  to maintain engagement until a user is invested enough to stick with the service and continue giving it time or even money. This approach is also validated in Quirk. As we previously discussed, users needed to be shown quick value from a self-discovery quiz before embracing the app. It became more challenging in its  objective to educate people. While this process can be made fun, it still requires people to make their own decisions to work through some sort of learning cycle where they have to take action in order to learn, which wouldn’t happen if the service was purely automated.

Making decisions is something that many new financial technology services are targeting as a problem and are actively removing from the user experience.Does this represent a threat to genuinely enabling financial services? Does this dampen people’s willingness to engage in a service that has a higher expectation of them? Or is Quirk an indication that there is a growing appetite in the market for services that give people enough respect to make their own decisions and value the longer term educational benefits?

While some research now demonstrates that giving users some element of choice actually improves their engagement with a service, it is not clear how much choice is engaging and how much is considered laborious. Financial education services like this, will need to find a positioning that is automatic enough not to be laborious or boring, but offer enough choice that it is still educational. Some things should be easier and predetermined for the user, but for other things it is more powerful if the user decides, for instance, how much money to save each month.

Fin tech industry is segmented across products and services

Another interesting consideration, which emerged from analysing the market as Quirk developed the product, was thatost fintech startups focus solely on one specific feature that they can deliver exceptionally well and then they expand into other features and other offerings later. This approach seems to contradict one of the founding considerations of the Quirk service, which is that people don’t think of their finances in terms of distinct banking features and products, they see them more holistically. Quirk has to balance not being stretched too thin by offering everything to everyone, but also finding the right balance in offering people a holistic view of their finances.

Humans are better

Another consideration arising from the process is about the right moment to introduce humans to the service. It is undeniable that human financial advisers are currently far superior to any automated advice service. For this reason,  when a user’s requirements become too complex they would be referred to a human Quirk advisor.

The interesting discussion is about when a human service should be offered and how it can be integrated with digital advice. Most people using the service are doing so because they can not afford an advisor or they feel their needs are not complex enough to warrant it. Can the use of digital financial services reduce the cost of giving one-on-one advice? Can they make the one-on-one advice more personalised when they do? And can they be used to enhance the implementation of whatever human advice was given?

The right amount of engagement

Investors typically look at the number of users who are active on the service everyday as a good measure of engagement and therefore the value of the business opportunity.This perception is aligned with ideas that people‘s screen time with a service is akin to the value they take from it. However, rapid and quick interactions with people’s money does not necessarily promote wellbeing and even worse can promote anxiety. Quirk, in its current form, essentially enables people to be more aware of how they are spending their money and then act on this. If people are constantly nudged to engage with the service through prompting messages and alerts, it could trigger people who are already concerned about money to constantly monitor their spending.

The service will have to establish ways to validate their principle that money should not be all-consuming, in fact, that the service could be more successful if it carefully avoids inducing anxiety by raising awareness in the right ways, looking for infrequent quality time rather than higher frequency quick moments.

Nafeesa Jafferjee
Nikolaos Melachrinos

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