Sun Life Financial approached Maddock Douglas with an intriguing directive: flip the narrative of distrust in the financial services sector and address advancements in technological capabilities (like robo-advice) to position Sun Life as a leader in innovative financial solutions and a source of thoughtful, reliable and unbiased knowledge and advice.
Identify a framework of highly probable shifts in consumer behavior and advice delivery modules over the next three to seven years in order to recognize, respond to and shape future disruptions to the financial advice category.
Equipped with an understanding of the most likely disruptions to the financial advice category, Sun Life was able to forecast the timing of and impetus for their emergence. They gained clarity on potential and actual consumer pain points and unmet needs, positioning the company to be well-prepared for impending changes in the market.
The work revealed cutting-edge thought leadership platforms relevant to Sun Life’s advisor network and a blueprint for future innovation spaces for the advice experience.
In a two-phased approach, Maddock Douglas and Sun Life together sought to articulate and quantitatively test the impact of:
Future events that could disrupt the financial advice industry
Related future consumer needs that could provide rich opportunities for innovative solutions
In phase one, Trend Impact Assessment, Maddock Douglas leveraged existing industry knowledge coupled with external analysis from parallel-industry experts (from our Global Expert Network) in order to identify the trends and key drivers of change impacting the financial advice category. This analysis provided the fodder for a co-creation workshop during which Maddock Douglas and Sun Life team members collaborated on hypothesizing dozens of potential events and their possible impact on the marketplace. The events believed to create the most opportunity or risk for Sun Life were ultimately selected for quantitative testing.
Prediction market research methodology played a pivotal role in this phase, proving more effective at predicting forward-looking outcomes than traditional research approaches that rely on the conjecture of individual consumers. In addition to calculating the actual probability of a future event, the methodology also captures open-ended rationale for why and how these events will unfold, providing rich qualitative context alongside each prediction.
Phase two, Future Needs Assessment, prioritized highly likely and disruptive future events. To understand the future-state of consumer attitudes and beliefs, Maddock Douglas drew from the thousands of verbatim comments from the research conducted in the previous phase. This research became the basis for a second co-creation workshop in which teams worked together to articulate potential future unmet consumer needs that could arise in a newly disrupted financial advice category. A second prediction market test revealed which future needs were most probable and helped prioritize areas of future innovation opportunity for Sun Life.
The two prediction market research studies provide a window into the future of the financial advice category and related emerging consumer needs. Sun Life can confidently move forward with a data-driven roadmap on where to focus future innovation and strategic planning efforts, and with an understanding of the distinct thought leadership platforms they can own as financial solutions experts.
This work propels Sun Life’s mission forward, enabling their clients to discern why and when to seek financial advice, how best to choose and engage the right resources and ultimately to achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives.