Case Study: Savings Engine

Savings Engine app screens

  • client

    Exploratory project (Arkadia Bank)

  • brief

    Create an easy-to-use savings goal experience

  • tools

    Sketch, Illustrator, InVision

Problem Statement

The mass affluent and emerging affluent market segments own 37% of America’s liquid assets but lack consumer confidence.

The financial needs of these valuable market segments are not well served by the financial services industry.

A Savings Check-In

The mass affluent and emerging affluent represent the high end of the mass market with an annual household income over $75,000, coupled with $100,000 to $1,000,000 of liquid financial assets (Schwab, “Courting the Mass Affluent”, Business Week, 2004). In the United States there are roughly 33 million of these mass affluent households, and they own roughly 37% of America’s liquid financial assets. Bank customers within these marketing segments represent a wide variety of backgrounds but are largely characterized as saving more than they spend, with a sharp eye toward investing in their future. The mass affluent also tend to be self-made and risk-averse, with large savings balances without much portfolio diversity. Which contributes to financial anxiety and a lack of consumer confidence.

However, this large market segment is surprisingly underserved by the financial services industry. With above average assets — but well below the top end of earners — their needs for financial guidance and building consumer confidence are not being met. Tasked with delivering solutions that target mass market needs, the Arkadia research team focused on the potential of marketable customer-oriented savings experiences. The team used a multi-phased approach to gather insights and ideas from prospects, customers, and associates across three targeted geographic markets, collecting 15 in-home empathy interviews, 12 prototype-testing interviews, and ideation sessions involving 25 bank associates.


As lead UX/UI designer on the project, I was introduced to the product team post-research and pre-synthesis. While not a direct contributor to the project research, I was able to study the research material and artifacts, and then actively participate in the synthesis phase. I successfully lead the team in grouping similar user behaviors in order to create three personas representing three adult life stages with age- and career-appropriate financial needs for the mass affluent and emerging affluent market segments. These composite customers were easier for the team to empathize with and solve for.


Peter Turner, Harry Danielson, and Tracy Fiorentino are composites of financial goals, needs, and interests found in the user research. Building wealth, taking care of children, and saving for a comfortable retirement were common themes.

These three unique personas, each with his/her own goals, current savings behavior, and pain points helped greatly in determining features and functionality of the digital savings experience.

user personas

Focusing the Prototype

The team created and tested a total of fifteen low-fidelity prototype concepts and user-tested each. The concepts that resonated most were savings check-in, savings-to-investment guidance, and family savings plans.

Further refinement and testing of low-to-mid fidelity concepts made us more aware of the need for savings guidance and so we trained our focus on a digital savings experience.

visual design

The final concept of a “savings engine” facilitated customer focus on stated savings goals (emergency fund, retirement, college fund, second home, vacation, etc.).

While project scope didn’t allow for individualized financial guidance, we were able to create a menu from these savings goals with relevant savings ‘rules of thumb’.

Hi-Fidelity Prototype

The final high-fidelity designs leverage the familiar card design pattern with custom iconography for goal selection, creation, and customization. The customer can create goals and set up recurring transfer contributions, allowing for easy visual tracking of goal targets.

Special consideration was given to flexibility, allowing for goal and contribution adjustments, including the ability to pause transfers.