Seeing your financial future – literally

Your future self is a complete stranger to you. Crazy, right? 

Research from UCLA examined the emotional disconnect between who we are now and who we will be in 20-40 years. 

“When people think of themselves in the future, it feels to them like they are seeing a different person entirely … like a stranger on the street,” said Hal Hershfield, a social psychologist at UCLA Anderson who is exploring how human behavior can be modified by bringing people closer to their future selves. 

He’s found that the emotional disconnect we have with the person we will become in 20 to 40 years could explain, for example, why many people don’t save enough for retirement; why they continue to indulge in unhealthy behaviors, accepting the risk of incurring terrible diseases in the future; and why they make bad ethical decisions despite knowing that they might suffer consequences down the road.

“One of the reasons people fail to make good choices and don’t act in ways that are positive in the long term is because they feel a sense of emotional disconnect from their future selves,” said Hershfield who’s been following this line of research for seven years. Source: The Stranger Within: Connecting with Our Future Selves by Cynthia Lee, April 9, 2015, http://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/the-stranger-within-connecting-with-our-future-selves

Members Development Company (MDC) and the National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation) are collaborating on a project with the Financial Health Network to research how emerging technologies can positively influence financial health. Part of this research includes exploring how credit unions may be able to utilize augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in the future to help their members achieve financial health and well-being. 

Imagine this example: 

On a Saturday morning, Keira and Jane, both 32,  visit their credit union to get help saving for retirement. They know they want to travel a lot when they retire but are unsure how to achieve their goals. Their financial advisor, Sally, listens closely, creates a couple of different alternative paths, then pulls out two virtual reality headsets. Keira and Jane put them on and can “see” and experience the alternatives Sally has presented – literally. They are able to see their future selves and make an informed decision on which path to follow. 

AR and VR may be able to transform the member experience by making digital products and services more accessible to consumers. Customers will be able to visualize and experience products virtually while interacting with a representative of a credit union. In addition, AR and VR may be beneficial to both credit unions and members by enabling a virtual experience of a complex or unfamiliar product, such as a security, and facilitating transactions within the AR or VR. In addition, AR and VR can alter perception and thereby influence consumer behavior. The presentation of a product or service through an immersive experience versus print or video can enable members to gain a more accurate understanding before making a purchase.

Finally, AR and VR can be used to facilitate effective teaching and learning opportunities for members and employees. Think of what credit unions already do with high school reality fairs – an immersive, experiential learning environment where high school students “friend” their future selves and try to live within an adult budget. What if VR could be added to that mix to truly cement the importance of budgeting, spending less than you earn and setting long-term savings goals? 

Working together, the Foundation, MDC, and Financial Health Network are identifying powerful ways to leverage emerging technologies like AR/VR to truly impact our members’ financial health. To find out more, contact: 

Gigi Hyland, ghyland@ncuf.coop 

Sarah Lietz, sarah.lietz@membersdevelopment.com

Gigi Hyland

Gigi Hyland

Gigi Hyland serves as the Executive Director for the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), the philanthropic and social responsibility leader of America's credit union movement. Prior to her work with ... Web: www.hylandhighway.com Details

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