Editor’s note: The 2015 Lean Startup Conference is just around the corner (it’s from November 16-19th in San Francisco, and there’s still time to get your ticket!) We have dozens of excellent speakers and mentors who are eager to share their product development, entrepreneurship, and innovation stories–you’ll never see these experts all in one place ever again. Learn more about them in our ‘Lean Startup Speakers’ series.

Next up is Devon McConnell, Head of Digital at Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC. She’ll be giving a talk on Digital Investing at the 2015 Lean Startup Conference. Learn more about her here.


Money – more specifically investing – is deeply personal.  It’s how we live our lives, reach certain personal goals and provide for our families.

It’s not as simple as using an app to buy shoes, or hail a taxi, or even book a trip. Drones can’t deliver financial advice to our doorsteps.  This may explain why it’s taken the financial services industry a longer time to adapt in the digital age.

Our industry is at a crossroads with two major drivers of change today – customers’ digital expectations and a complex regulatory environment. It’s the perfect storm. And it’s driving us to look at the very basic operating models we work under to meet new demands.

I hear a lot about how Millennials are demanding financial services firms change the way they deliver advice. The reality from all of the research we’ve seen is that Millenials still want AND expect the human touch. When it comes to saving and investing, though, they usually expect their first experience to be in the digital realm.

Automatic investing tools are here to stay – but so are human advisors. It’s a matter of how technology for all generations can be trusted to support clients and help them reach their goals – throughout their lives.

Major money decisions involve emotions. That’s what drives the work my team and I are doing now – making sure we capture and hold on to the emotional connection when we’re building out our digital experiences.

It forces us to be nimble – and quite frankly, to be very honest with ourselves about how we manage the terrain of building trust and maintaining the emotional connection online.

A trusted brand is important.  And the digital experience can uphold that trust or give pause.  To bridge this gap we have started to incorporate emotional design – focusing not just on whether someone is able to complete a task, but if once they get there, they WANT to complete it.

After all, emotions are like a compass – directing decisions without us even realizing it.  If we feel good, we continue forward. If we don’t – we pause, or walk away.  Building a compelling and trustworthy experience is tricky business wrought with uncertainty.

Historically, traditional businesses like financial services manage uncertainty with a focus on analysis, consensus building and documentation.  That leads to a process and release cycle that takes 2 to 3 years from start to end before anything significant can be learned.

In this day and age – we don’t have that sort of time! It’s leading to an internal transformation at our firm – bringing in agile and lean practices so we can learn from our customers and respond more nimbly.

But in the rush to transform, even the most agile financial services organizations can’t forget the business we are in, and how bonds are built with technology AND people.


Hear the rest of Devon’s story at The 2015 Lean Startup Conference, where she’ll talk about building a digital strategy at Wells Fargo.

Devon McConnell is head of digital at Wells Fargo Advisors L.L.C.

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