What are Fintech communities for?

These are tumultuous times for certain communities in our fintech world, so I thought I would share a quick personal reflection.

A fintech brand that wants to earn the right to look after customers’ money needs to focus on trust and reliability over pretty much everything else.

I have to say I’m proud of the kind of community we are building together here, which was recently described on another fintech community as:

Dozens which does a fantastic job of engaging with their community and it remains largely niche and specific to their members.

In this community we will continue to share ideas and discussions about taking more control of our financial future by understanding why saving and investing matter, and particularly how to get started.

I believe that making this a clear focus means you know what you will find when you visit. It may be ‘niche’, but it is an important topic for those who need this information.

Do you agree? Would you prefer it if there was a chance to post on a much wider range of topics? Should there be other categories? Is there something you would you like to see?

Just to clarify, however, this is not just about Dozens (though we’re always happy to help as many here, staff and other members, have plenty of experience to share). There’s already plenty here about other businesses.

We are very willing to discuss our mission, product and even our moderating decisions (but will have to refer you to Customer Service if you need help with your individual account). But to earn your trust, it is important to say that we are also happy to discuss any contrarian views - as long as these are fair, personal opinions not intended to attack or damage anyone.

I wish the admins and moderators of other fintech sites all the best with the decisions facing them. It is unfortunate to see discord because it affects the trust that customers put into the fintech space, and it is not fair on the individuals who get targeted.

I hope that friends and regular members here will agree with our wish that calmer heads prevail everywhere and we can get back to helping people who want to explore the potential of Financial Technology to help us have a more financially secure future.

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If you open it up you could run in to same troubles that other places have had… Yes it is good to be open and have engagement but do you really want the hassles and work that goes with it?

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Indeed, that is my view, but I’m happy to discuss it

I’m sure we could generate more posts by courting controversy, but it would not help the people we want to help.

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I rather like the relatively laid back style of the Dozens community. It’s one of the few communities where every thread doesn’t spiral out of control.

I also thoroughly enjoy Robs thought provoking discussions. I admit I’ve not been a regular here but I really enjoyed reading “What if I where suddenly debt free” and “pension jury service”.

Based on what I’ve seen at other places I think Dozens have the right balance.

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No, I’m happy with the current community feel here although it has gone a bit quiet recently with not much seen from @AC or @Peter in particular, both of whose vision and views were interesting and thought provoking. The toxicity of other fora concerns me and the amount of negativity towards Dozens as a company and brand likewise, with many unsubstantiated assertions made, whilst complaints about customer service and its accessibility really don’t match my own experiences. It will be important to transform that narrative I imagine if the business is to thrive, which I hope it does.

Going back to the question, the community should be a place for the business to engage with its customers and for customers to bounce ideas off each other and thereby provide feedback to the business. What is more difficult is the wider space of communities, review sites etc where individuals are able to voice opinions and assert views without evidence or, in some circumstances, redress. Not necessarily the focus of this thread however…

Sorry, unstructured and rambling but it has become quiet here whilst getting louder outside which is sad.

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It’s an interesting question: what is community for?

From a business perspective. I suppose it’s for a number of reasons. It’s really useful at an early (alpha/beta) stage, when rapid feedback and product iteration is monarch. It’s also a way of generating buzz, enthusiasm and brand loyalty - especially when demonstrating values that resonate with users. The term ‘millennial’ is sometimes much derided, but that age-group is (I think) at the vanguard of flatter organisation structures, agile approaches, transparency and have grown accustomed to direct access to companies. I don’t want this to sound too cynical, but ‘community’ is a way of exploiting this for mutual benefit.

From a user perspective, I think I’ve covered a lot of it above. For me personally, I’m interested in new ideas and in product design. I should probably write at some point about my dream financial services set-up, but the places I have been active are those where I enjoy interaction with creators (like service designers and engineers) and an opportunity to influence future direction (mostly with complicated “here’s not how to do it” designs - I’m a frustrated product person at heart, I think).

But let’s go back to the matter at hand: the bigger question is what happens to Community when companies grow (up)? That initial user engagement isn’t as necessary, other forms of media and PR take over, bureaucracy comes with bigger orgs and the press becomes interested in anything quasi-official or what might be (emerging) issues. And, more than that, the highly engaged seed-users normally fall away, and places end up becoming venting values for customer service pressures, to loudly complain or, in some instances, to become virtual pitches for what someone cleverer than me called the ‘footballification of fintech’: different tribes who back their team (fintech) or - sometimes - are in the anyone but X company camp. It’s very odd.

So, what of Project Imagine? I really admire what the team is trying to do. But I’ve been a bit worried about how quiet it’s been and - to be brutally honest - have concerns about whether it’s a viable business. We haven’t seen any sales of Pi1 yet. And Dozens isn’t profitable. I maintain there’s a niche for a wealth management solution with advanced tooling and financial products that other fintechs won’t provide. But (to stereotype slightly) by default that attracts an older audience, who are less inclined ‘to community’. I think that’s borne out a bit by a lot of the very interesting conversations that @robert starts, to minimal take up.

Although I’ve not been particularly active recently, I do really like this place. It’s slower, more considered, and has avoided much of the problems we’ve seen elsewhere. Perhaps it could be made bigger and busier - but then I think much of the problems we’ve seen recently elsewhere would certainly emerge here.

Which all brings us back to the question of what is community for?

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Another wonderfully considered post from @Peter , thank you! And thanks to the other commenters and your support and kind words.

I didn’t want to jump into answering in too much detail early on, but if you’ll indulge me for a short post …

There are many things a community can be for, but what is important is to stay true to that goal, and that it aligns to the needs of both the business running it, and, IMPORTANTLY, that of the members - and their shared ‘identity’ - the reason they feel that this space is relevant to them.

One of the models we like to use in community management circles is SPACES - a handy acronym for different community types:

Support - a place for offering customer service and support for each other
Product - discussing feedback and ideas for product development
Acquisition - attracting new users and sales
Contribution - generating content around a product, mission or market
Engagement - for customer experience and retention
Success - encouraging users to use a product more/better for their benefit

A bit technical if you’re not that into management of these place, but you can see how the content and interaction for each of these goals is different.

As long as everyone is clear on what the goal (or maybe 2 goals) is/are, and why we are in a community together, then you get what you came for. If the models get mixed, or forgotten, then things tend to fall apart.

I like to compare community management to gardening. Things look best with a plan, but then left to grow in peace, but remember to keep weeding! Too many competing plans, or too little weeding, and the space will quickly look chaotic.

In the case of this site, I am most interested in creating a place that offers something in addition to the app (so you don’t need it, but get more if you do) to help customers on the overall journey to understanding their money, and how to make the most of it. In my dream future state, other active members also encourage and empower their peers to do this via this community.

In that case, I focus on Engagement and Success.

For that reason, I do not ALSO want it to be a place for customer service or for pushing sales and marketing.

When it comes to Product feedback, this is actually very important to us as a young business, so I’m keen to have it (and very much appreciate your contributions), but maybe keep it a little separated from the main community as it could actually put off regular customers who are not technically minded and only wanted to understand investing - not building fintech apps.

If you take this lens to other communities, you might see that letting things be too wide-ranging (unless it is limited in some other way, for example by geographical area) means that lots of different, competing agendas clash and no progress is achieved.

I hope you don’t mind me jotting these things down off the top of my head. I would be keen to hear your thoughts on this and how you think this could work.

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This is really interesting, thanks for sharing! I was particularly interested in the SPACES model - is there a part of the internet you could point us to to read up a bit more on community theory?

A few further reflections from me:

  • I think it’s right to avoid community being a platform for customer service. It’s a fine line between customers supporting each other (here’s a new feature, here’s how I’ve used it, wow I didn’t realise you could do that etc) and effectively outsourcing support. Effectively asking community to pick up the slack if a company is unable or unwilling to support properly is a bit of a red flag.

  • The difference between product feedback and financial journey was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me. It struck me that the former is a moment in time thing, and is pretty niche. That’s not to say it’s not valuable, but is a different kettle of fish to thinking about financial wellness.

Finally, I loved your gardening analogy. There are lots of things we try to address with mechanical metaphors (build, create, fix) whereas you can only really address them with organic metaphors (like grow, garden etc).

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of course - here’s a page published by my friends at CMX

Some communities are great at/for customer service, and people want to help (and sometimes be spotted as ‘experts’ in order to generate business, or get a job for example). I don’t think this is the specific case here … though if anyone does want a job with Dozens, do let me know :slight_smile:

yes, exactly. The great thing about posting useful content that is educational is that it is relevant for a long time, and to a range of readers, not all of whom will want to join the discussion. Measuring a community only by the number of posts is not accurate, because sometimes, like a blog, the content can be limited, but the readership can extend to a great many others over time.

Thanks! There’s a great deal more to the analogy I could go into some other time (e.g. patience, planning ahead, “seeding”, opportunity for serendipity, etc.), but I’m sure you can imagine it

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