Design principles for financial health

In the second of two blogs, Carl Packman, Research and Good Practice Manager at Toynbee Hall – our partner for the Financial Health Fellowship – explores the design principles that could support innovation for financial health. 

In early March, Toynbee Hall and the Finance Innovation Lab brought together over 30 financial health experts to explore the concept of financial health, identify opportunities for innovation, and help us develop a set of design principles for financial health (drawing inspiration from the US Center for Financial Services Innovation’s COMPASS principles). You can read the full output of our ‘Financial Health Hack’ here.

The design principles listed below are not prescriptive, and not exhaustive, but they act as a starting point for understanding what good innovation for financial health looks like and identifying the highest potential innovations to support through the Financial Health Fellowship.

We think that a democratic, responsible and fair approach to financial health is likely to have the following characteristics.


An effective approach to financial health is likely to:

  • Be understandable and easy to control
  • Be co-created with end users and other stakeholders (designed with, not for)
  • Be transparent about the business model and the value individuals bring (such as their personal data)
  • Build networks of power within communities.


An effective approach to financial health is likely to:

  • Create opportunity for customers to improve their financial health and encourage them to do so (preventative rather than reactive)
  • Be prepared to turn people away, so that no-one takes on an inappropriate or unaffordable product
  • Balance the amount of responsibility placed on the individual with that placed on the provider.


An effective approach to financial health is likely to:

  • Share value fairly (e.g. where possible, an individual’s data is shared with them)
  • Challenge the individualisation of risk and share burdens fairly and ethically
  • Recognise the constraints placed on the options available to individuals (choices are rarely completely free)
  • Treat people with dignity and work with people’s real behaviours and emotions.

Financial Health Fellowship is open for applications until 10 April 2017.