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Case study—

Designing the future of retirement



    How might we help people build enough wealth to retire comfortably?


    Redesign the future of retirement through a better understanding of wealth

Thinking into the distance

GMI is an investment management firm that helps people with retirement planning and investment portfolios.

Retirement planning has been an interesting issue in New Zealand. Many people don’t think financial management fits with the national identity of ingenuity and resourcefulness.

Fundamentally, quality of life has been prioritized above the financial well-being required to achieve it.

GMI approached Empathy to help revolutionize the way people plan for their retirement. They wanted to ensure more people can confidently manage the territory between their current working life and their future.

The meaning of wealth

Work began with a review of GMI’s existing customer research and the launch of ethnographic research to complement it. Conducting and interpreting research from a human-centered perspective, we built on GMI’s knowledge of how much wealth a person needs for a satisfying retirement.

We visited people in their homes to develop deeper understanding of the ways people view, build and track wealth — right down to how they store bank statements and receipts. GMI joined us in customer conversations to learn what wealth means to people beyond money.

By hearing directly from the people they serve, the GMI team became even more engaged in customer advocacy. They were set on finding the best possible solution.

Exploring, testing, preparing a product for market

With a greater understanding of how wealth is perceived, we reviewed literature on psychology and behavioral finance. We also worked with GMI to draw on their knowledge of current retirement planning approaches.

Through conversations with GMI customers and people who had not yet considered saving for retirement, we uncovered new insights into the desires, beliefs, barriers and behaviors that shape attitudes to retirement planning.

We explored ideas for reframing retirement planning in New Zealand. We prototyped and tested out ideas with customers along the way. We zeroed in on concepts for a retirement planning tool that could be used by anyone at any stage of life .

Using a thorough, iterative approach, we aspired to create a tool that helped people meet the challenge of planning for a future that is hard to imagine — let alone prepare for. As we publish this case study, GMI is preparing to launch the product. It’s no easy
feat to break new ground in a sector that has felt disconnected from people’s day-to-day lives. We’re proud to have supported GMI’s vision and look forward to seeing this work in action.