Guru – Your well being and money guide

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Guru –
Your well being and money guide

Guru is a money and wellbeing application that aims to empower people to make better decisions for their financial health and well being. Guru works by visualising your finances in a brand new way according to well being categories such as impactful spending, health and experiences. It then provides peer and expert generated tips and advice so that you can learn more about your money and alternative ways you can save and spend so you can focus on your wellbeing.

MA2 – Team 4

Nafeesa Jafferjee
Nikolaos Melachrinos


Tell us what the concept is about. What are you designing? What are the key benefits?

Guru is a smart digital service that aims to empower you to make better and smart decisions for your financial health and wellbeing. Guru works in three simple steps awareness (learn about yourself), education (learn about your money) and finally positive reinforcement (build positive habits).

The first step works by analyzing your financial data and personality traits to visualize your financial information in a brand new way. Instead of showing you your bank balance, it maps your purchases to categories like experience, impact, and health that our research determined were key ways people spent their money that impacted their well being. Examples of impact purchases could include charitable donations, money spent on small businesses or carbon-free vendors, experience purchases could include travel, online courses and time out with friends and finally, health purchases could include healthy food, gym memberships, and bike rentals. The goal of visualizing this data is to give people more awareness into how their money affects their wellbeing. Guru will not compare or rate how well or bad you are doing but shows you your data so you learn your behavior and make some changes if you want to.

For the second step education, Guru provides bite-sized tips that are both peer and expert-generated. These tips help you learn more about your money and behavior of people like you as well as provide alternatives on how you can improve your wellbeing. If you have any questions on the tips you can also chat with Guru’s conversational interface to learn more.

Finally, Guru will provide positive reinforcement for any behavior that improves your wellbeing. For example, if you’ve spent at an ethical vendor or eaten healthy for a week, the app will congratulate you. We make a point only to focus on the positive as we don’t want to cause any anxiety and stress on the occasion you make an impulsive purchase.

Guru primarily lives on people’s phones but would be available on smartwatches and smart home devices (ie Alexa, Google Home). Guru is powered by open banking that allows the service to securely receive transaction data from banks. It also uses conversation AI to chat with you and uses machine learning to analyze your financial data to better understand your behavior so it can recommend relevant information.

Further, Guru hopes to access a much wider user base and integration with phone plans through its Alpha partnership and partner in the future with companies like Plaid that provides trusted banking APIs, ethical/sustainable vendors to provide the unique tips of impactful products and services and class pass for fitness classes.

Lastly, Guru will leverage data sets like the Alanda index which is used to indicate the carbon footprint of purchases and Ethical Consumer, a UK publication that rates vendors based on sustainability and ethical practices. In the future, Guru may be able to take in your Spotify, your Strava and your Health app data to help build more holistic money habits that contribute to your happiness (wellbeing).


Tell us some of the key findings of your background research and what is the problem you are trying to address.

People can be irrational and this applies to money as well. This is exacerbated by the complexity of financial services, which people find hard to navigate and lack of knowledge to make the right decisions for themselves.

Banks often view people as static data points instead of individuals with varying needs and emotions. There is a need to align wants and emotions with your financial habits.

We’ve found that when it comes to money management most people focus on the big picture. They know what is their budget for the month and their fixed costs (rent, utilities etc) but don’t really keep track of their day to day purchases. This leads to anxiety when checking your bank balance at the end of the month and guilt for certain purchase you make along the way.

People are increasingly spending on their well-being. This has amounted to £1.5 billion per month in the UK showing this is something people value.

20-24 year olds view money as a tool to achieve the lifestyle they want and make an impact. 76% of GenZ will purchase a product to show support for the issues they care about showing how spending is influenced by personal beliefs and value.

There is a satiation point of £65,000 where more money doesn’t mean more happiness. Although we can’t save people from money scarcity, we can help them optimize their money for happiness and wellbeing, which long-term will have an effect on financial health too.


Tell us something about your users and key stakeholders involved.

Our initial target audience is young professionals 21-30 years old who are in their first or second full-time job who are managing their money for the first time. We know that this age group has a lack of knowledge when it comes to their finances but they want to use their money to support their lifestyle and well being while also having an impact making them more likely to be interested in a service like Guru. Additionally, we think that women might show more interest from our initial Instagram testing that indicated that women were much more inclined to view our ads at a 65%-35% rate over men, so we feel that this target segment is a good place to start.


Give us an idea of the future scenario where your project will be working. 

Guru can be created right now with present day technologies but we envision in the future that Guru can evolve. As more people use it, it can become a community and support system that helps you navigate through different life and financial transitions. We also believe that in 5 years or more, vendors will be held accountable for sustainable practices and they can both benefit from and enrich Guru’s ecosystem.


Tell us if you have thought of a specific location where to prototype.

Our project has been based in London – but we think Guru could work in any major cities that have a young and active population such as Barcelona, San Francisco, Melbourne, New York, Berlin (are just a few examples) where there are many young professionals looking to improve their well being.


Give us an idea of your strategy, your process, your prototyping plan and the next steps.

As a team, we are fully committed to pursue this project further. Our main goal now is to understand how sticky and effective a service like Guru can be. Some of the questions we want to answer are – will our three steps (awareness, education, positive reinforcement) actually work and will people be better off by using Guru?

We hope to get some of these answers by running the tests below:

Get 3-5 people to connect their Monzo API with us and analyze their spending through our excel generated version of Guru and report back to them with real data. We also want to visualize their data in different ways to understand better what suits their needs.

Talk to experts like psychologists, neuroscientists, behavioral economists, and financial advisors to understand how to structure the tips we provide and communicate positive reinforcement.

Start thinking nuts and bolts. Talk to a machine learning expert to assess the complexity of Guru’s algorithm and evaluate data sets we can use.

Create a framework of how Guru categorizes wellbeing so that users can easily understand what purchases would go where and what tips they will get.

Run experiments with people using Guru looking over a longer period of time to successfully measure happiness and wellbeing.

Understand the scenarios when something goes wrong. What if someone has been using money dangerously? Or the effects of moral licensing? Or too much dependency? We will also have to test these scenarios to understand the limits of what Guru should and can do.

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