Why superstitions are important for financial services

Darja König
2min read

We’re all aware of superstitions. Some of us a little more than others. Like digital finances, they don’t physically exist - but they’re far from a joke. Here are just a few of the reasons why FS companies should start brushing up on them.

This article was written by Darja König - an Eleven intern who recently spent an action-packed six weeks in the Consulting and Research team. Alongside conducting customer research, identifying market opportunities and learning all about the business, she also wrote this awesome article. If you’re passionate about changing the fabric of financial services, check out our careers page.

Becoming truly digital opens the gates to a network of clients from various cultures. Let’s take a look at some global superstitions and what to learn from them.

Tarot cards instead of credit cards

Don’t put money directly into someone’s hands in Russia. There’s a belief that it transmits negative energy, so it’s common practice to put it in the designated tray next to the till to break the bad flow of energy. You might be asking - so what? Cash remains the most frequently used payment method in the largest country in the world because of a distrust in electronic money. The question is: how do you break the ‘negative link’ when you hand over money digitally?

Feel like your money keeps disappearing down the drain? Consider closing the lid of your toilet. Feng Shui is an East Asian theory that posits nature, architecture and prosperity are connected. Shutting the toilet lid supposedly preserves prosperity.

Did you know: men spend more money on impulsive purchases than women (£65 per month vs. £54 per month)? And who (stereotypically) leaves the toilet lid open more? Coincidence?

Physically closing something prompts a feeling of real satisfaction - a sale, a book, even a toilet seat. It brings a sense of tangible reward. When delivering digital services, FS companies should replicate this feeling through the use of strong visual cues and investment in haptic technology - depending on the cultural background in which the client operates.

A rich body of evidence suggests that psychological biases affect financial decision-making. In China, firms frequently use listing codes featuring lucky numbers such as six, eight and nine. They’re considered lucky due to their phonetic similarity to Chinese words with positive connotations. On the other hand, the word for number four sounds similar to the word for death. Lucky clovers don’t have quite the same impact in China.

A rich body of evidence suggests that psychological biases affect financial decision-making.

Suspending common sense can be magical, especially when it comes to finances. However, we should be wary that following superstitions too closely can be harmful. The question is - how do we navigate the line between belief and reason?

So what are the implications for FS?

Be aware of superstitions. Your knowledge of the cultural context they exist in is a superpower. Building trust is essential when it comes to FS. Simply disregarding superstitions because they don’t apply in your region is not good for your service. The key is to find the balance between reason and belief - one for the numbers, one for the service.

Digital FS companies can use this knowledge to innovate and deliver more thoughtful services to their international clients. It might just make the difference in a clustered market.