Discovery Research

Designing financial services for vulnerable members of society


The Royal Commission into the Australian Financial Services Industry brought into sharp focus the responsibility of the major banks to better meet the needs of customers whose personal circumstances make them especially susceptible to financial detriment.


Protecting vulnerable customers from harm

Westpac hired Sandbox to understand the barriers faced by customers across a range of vulnerable categories including age and cognitive impairment, domestic abuse and addiction. Identifying these customer needs and translating them into product and service requirements enabled gaps in Westpac’s existing model to be addressed.


Understanding vulnerability highlighted gaps in existing service

We spent time interviewing bank staff, vulnerable customers and their representatives to examine past experiences and understand pain points.

A distinguishing characteristic of vulnerable customers is their inability to advocate for themselves. Understanding this broadened the emphasis of the service design beyond the Bank’s relationship with the customer towards how the Bank might better work in partnership with people such as carers and family members whom vulnerable customers rely on for support.

“I was not in a state to be thinking clearly.”

Domestic violence sufferer

“It would be great if there was someone who could help better than me.”


A blueprint for operationalising ‘extra care’

Westpac was committed to investing in a transition towards a new and improved service model of ‘extra care’ for vulnerable customers. Our suite of vulnerable customer profiles became foundational insight for design and delivery teams seeking to build empathy for particular vulnerabilities and identify the common needs to be solved.

View All Work