The Banks and Values?

Banks have come under criticism in the last few years over their short-termism and their management of risk. One could argue that they, and many of their customers, were at the time driven to fulfill outer-directed needs through the provision of easy accessible debt that is now having to be paid off.

It is thus interesting to see one major bank now seeking to understand its customers via their values. Have a look at the HSBC Advance online Customer Survey here? It has also been launched on Facebook as an App here.

HSBC seem to be marketing their Advance product as values based banking. It will be interesting to see how seriously they take it and how much it is used as a research tool as well as a marketing approach? They have set out their research methodology here and it is good to see they draw from the work of the World Values Survey. The details of the HSBC approach are:

Why did HSBC create the Values Survey?

As the world’s local bank, we’re curious about the differences between people that make the world so fascinating. That’s why we try not to treat all of our customers the same way.

We know that it’s the values people hold that determine the way they live, so understanding values is a good place to start understanding our customers. Because with a better grasp of what makes people tick, it’s easier for us to help them manage their finances – today, tomorrow and when their needs change.

What are values?

Psychologists have always found that people are motivated and driven by different things – often described as needs, interests, values, beliefs and preferences. These can be deep-rooted in some people and it’s thought that they’re formed by our upbringing as well as genetic differences in personality. Research shows that your nationality and culture can also influence our values and beliefs.

Since our values are deeply held, they are often resistant to change and training. In other words, you can’t change your values to suit your short-term situation. Trying to fight against our beliefs and values (for example by working for a profit-obsessed company when your main value is about quality) is often stressful and counter-productive. There’s no doubt that we function best when our values are aligned in all areas of our life.

Some of the research and theories behind this survey

There are many different models of values and motivations developed by psychologists over the past 50 years. Other psychologists have taken these models further by attempting to measure and quantify these values. These measures have then been applied to a number of practical settings, for example, careers guidance, occupational assessment and even marriage guidance.

Business Psychologists and HSBC worked together to have a look at the full range of values research, theory and measures. From this research, they developed a framework of eight measurable values which they saw as most relevant to HSBC’s broad customer base, and produced 5 questions to measure each value. These questions were trialed extensively on a diverse sample of the general population (including a significant number of HSBC’s current customers.) Our survey was found to correlate significantly with two very well established values measures, which helped inspire our questionnaire: the Schwartz values survey (developed by the Psychologist Shalom H Schwartz, 1992), and the relevant elements of the Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory (inspired by the work of R. Hogan and Blake, 1996) and developed by the UK based Psychological Consultancy Limited (PCL Ltd). So, for example, people from our trial sample who scored highly on our Power value also got high scores for both the Schwartz survey measure, and PCL’s MVPI questionnaire.

The effort put in here shows how seriously major organisations now take values based segmentation. The big question – and one TCC make to the many organisations we work with – is “are you now prepared to respond more effectively to those varying values?”. For the banking sector that might be to go back to being more reassuring to those whose values look for that; explaining how they see the bigger ethical picture for those who are increasingly concerned about those issues; whilst still seeking to provide a good commercial deal for those whose immediate needs and values require that.

Charlie Mansell is Research and Development Officer for The Campaign Company. If you want to see what your own primary values set is, why not take the simple Values Questionnaire here.

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2 Responses to “The Banks and Values?”

  1. Jake Dearlove Says:

    The values survey is now also available on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/hsbcadvancevalues

  2. weultras.com Says:

    weultras.com…

    […]The Banks and Values? « The Campaign Company’s Blog[…]…

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