Amy’s story of
spiralling debt

These profiles have been created after research with real customers in vulnerable situations. All names have been changed.

Even those of us that appear 'low risk' can find ourselves vulnerable. Particularly in this unprecedented global crisis, more people are experiencing vulnerability for the first time. What happens to turn a well-paid, savvy and stable young woman into a vulnerable customer?
Amy is a young professional in a well-paid job. She considers herself financially literate. Over the past 6 years, her situation has transitioned from being financially stable with a mortgage deposit saved, to having an unmanageable amount of personal unsecured debt – all without her loved ones knowing. Amy's daily experience is one of juggling money around to try to avoid the most expensive fees, mentally calculating how much of her credit she can use to pay off other credit, all the while pretending to her family that everything's ok.

How could you design inclusively for Amy?

Ask yourself:

Can your organisation identify unusual behaviour?

Research has shown that customers save more, for longer, when they have tangible goals to aim for. Retirement and ‘rainy day’ saving is significantly less successful. Often these mental models correspond with a customer's appetite for risk. When the goal of saving for a house was removed, Amy's mental model shifted from saving to spending.

Does the support end beyond your organisation? 

Amy's liabilities are split about 70/30 between her usual bank and a credit card firm. Despite the fact that both these firms have access to her credit file and can see her total amount of credit, each has chosen to lend ever greater sums based on their individual risk models and appetite.

Where in the journey does your customer need a positive behaviour nudge?

The limit on Amy's credit card has been increased several times, all by default. Standard practice for many credit card firms is to require the customer to make a phone call to reject the new limit. Research has shown that customers are significantly less likely to actively reject a limit increase when the process is laborious or time-consuming.

Do you have the full picture in order to make a decision about your customers?

Despite Amy's debt levels, she's never missed a payment or gone over her limit. This means she looks like a fair risk to the decision-making engines. As a result, she's been able to apply for credit on a yearly basis, online, without any human interaction or deeper review of her needs.

Who are your vulnerable customers?

Meet Brian