UK financial consumers are navigating unprecedented levels of uncertainty during the cost-of-living crisis. In tandem, increasing competition in the financial services market is providing consumers with a host of new options and experiences. The MRS Financial Services Research 2023 conference will examine how customers are reacting to this flux and choice and how providers are responding to financial customers changing concerns, attitudes and behaviours.

How can FS providers maximise engagement and trust with consumers during turbulent times?

Attend this event to:

  • Gain new insights into the evolving needs and preferences of financial consumers
  • Explore how behavioural science is spearheading compliance with the FCA’s Consumer Duty
  • Examine award-winning brand building research that is strengthening brand equity and driving consumer engagement & trust
  • Meet Gen Z financial consumers and discover how best to build long-term relationships
  • Hear novel research approaches to keep customers engaged in ESG investment
  • Build understanding and meet the needs of the financially vulnerable

Featuring case studies from:

HSBC * Quilter * Visa * Allianz * * Skipton Building Society * Ecclesiastical Insurance * Aegon * The People’s Partnership * NEST *


Radisson Blu Edwardian
9-13 Bloomsbury Street,London,WC1B 3QD

With special thanks to:

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Esin Balcisoy, Senior Research Manager, Human8
Working on both ad hoc and structural research for a portfolio of clients, she’s particularly fascinated by customer communities and how they can bring about a genuine closeness to organisations which ultimately bridges the empathy gap and inspires action. She is always curious to identify the inherent dynamics of research communities as they are about what people really think and feel about brands, products and services, how they actually behave in the real and digital world, and how they would like to make or shape the future. Ultimately, the real prize for Esin is bringing the customer voice into client organisations through commercially focussed, actionable insights that help insight teams to advocate for the audiences that matter to them.
Esin is an active advocate of company-wide initiatives for parents and carers and employee wellbeing.

 Jo Caley, Senior Insight Manager, Paragon Bank
Jo is a Senior Insight Manager at Paragon bank, with financial services experience spanning over two decades.  Jo joined Paragon in 2019 and is passionate about making connections to uncover insights and drive improvements for customers.  Jo is part of the bank’s Insight team that blends in-house research approaches with projects in partnership with agencies.

Anna Cliffe, Managing Director, Trinity McQueen
Anna is the Founder of Trinity McQueen, a full service behavioural market research agency based in Leeds and London which has just celebrated it’s 10-year anniversary. Anna has been working in research for 25 years, and is passionate about understanding people, and using that process to bring people together in client side organisations to make the best decisions. Anna’s experience includes working for major financial service companies and retailers globally.

Dr. Nick Coates, Consumer Expert and Global Consultancy Director, C Space

James Dell, Client Framework Design Lead, Solomon
James is an independent consultant with 20 plus years of experience working in the financial services industry undertaking a variety of roles including business analysis, compliance and client research. In the latter part of his career he has specialised in working with Financial Advice firms to develop client centric propositions and developing strategies to ensure firms have operational structures that allow them to be client focused.  James is currently leading a client experience program for Solomon that will reimagine how financial advice is delivered to clients, he passionately believes in the value of financial planning and that everyone should have a financial plan.  He is an expert in service design techniques, process engineering and operational design.

Kathy Ellison, Director, Savanta
Kathy has been working in insight for over 30 years and is a financial research specialist, working mainly client-side but moving agency-side nearly 10 years ago. She currently works with a wide variety of financial clients across many different product lines including lending, banking, payments, pensions, protection and insurance researching all audiences - businesses, consumers & intermediaries. Her recent focus has been on different generations and on vulnerable customers and she is currently leading on a large number of projects on Consumer Duty.

Sarah Emmerson, Insight Manager, Visa Europe
Sarah is responsible for pan-European work across Visa Europe. She helps the business and its partners - from banks and fintechs to merchants - understand ever changing consumer and SMB needs, using storytelling skills developed over a decade agency side. She has a particular passion for the business's impact questions, helping stakeholders navigate society's needs when it comes to sustainability and social impact.

Natalia Gomez - Behavioural Research Manager, Cowry Consulting
As the Behavioural Research Manager at Cowry Consulting, Natalia adapts and implements innovative research methods that identify the role of conscious, unconscious, and contextual variables in human behaviour and decision making. Her main motivation is to collect impactful primary insights for clients in different sectors, and to inform the development of effective behaviour change strategies. Natalia has worked with important brands from the public and private sectors including governmental institutions, financial services, insurance, and retail companies, in Latin America and the UK.

Josephine Hansom, VP & Youth Practice Lead, Savanta
Josephine is a Fellow of the Market Research Society and has spent most of her career focused on understanding Gen Z.
As part of the senior team at Savanta she leads it’s Next Gen practice. She was the Managing Director of YouthSight research until it was acquired and before that she spent nearly a decade at GfK.
Josephine is an active member of the MRS, sitting on its Board as well as sitting on the steering group of MRSpride. She co-hosts the podcast OUTsights and is passionate about making market research an industry where everyone can succeed.
Josephine is also a regular on the international conference circuit, sharing her take on generational theory supported by Savanta’s unique State of the Youth Nation tracking data.
Listen to Josephine talk about the Youth Market on Radio 4’s The Bottom Line

Rebecca Henson, Senior Researcher, Skipton Building Society
Rebecca has over 25 years of experience working in the financial services industry and 9 years as a client-side researcher, helping Skipton Building Society better understand its members, and playing a key role in developing its research capabilities.  
Rebecca describes herself as having held a life-long fascination with the intricacies of human behaviour, and her love and enthusiasm for consumer research are underpinned by her academic training in psychological research methods.

Rebecca Harries, Research Director, Flume~
Rebecca is a researcher with over 20 years’ experience, beginning her career at Millward Brown (now Kantar), before spending time heading up an international team client-side and now working as a qualitative specialist at Flume.~She is driven by a curiosity for understanding what drives consumer thinking and behaviour, and how this applies across categories from FMCG to retail and electricals to finance.~Her interest in financial research specifically is underpinned by getting to the heart of the human stories which inform many of the biggest decisions consumers make during their lives, and helping brands deliver best in class products and solutions to support them.

 Jenny Lovell, Head of UK Insights, eBay
Jenny leads Customer Insight for eBay in the UK, where her role is to ensure a consumer centric approach to decision making.  She has previously partnered with C Space on various programmes of work to bring the business closer to the customer, and deliver real time insights that allow us to respond to the changing needs of our customers.

Wei Lun Huang, Head of Product Strategy and Proposition, HSBC
Wei-Lun has been working in the financial services industry for over a decade, with experience spanning across various roles and geographies.  He is currently the Global Head of Product Strategy and Proposition for the Retail Wealth Management business of HSBC.  In this capacity, he is responsible for developing customer-centric wealth propositions and wealth product solutions to fulfill the needs of the customers of HSBC.  Wei-Lun is both a practitioner and advocate of insights led design thinking, which has been critical to the success of his launch of flagship customer propositions for HSBC.     

Tom Johnson, Managing Director, Trajectory Partnership 
Tom is a researcher and forecaster with 15 years of experience helping organisations from a range of sectors understand how their customers and the wider world is changing. In recent years he’s led global studies on the future of tertiary education and work exploring the impact of the pandemic on bereaved people. Tom leads many of Trajectory’s most complex and multi-methodology projects, including those involving hard to reach audiences and vulnerable or marginalised consumers. He’s an expert in trends analysis and strategic insight, including designing methodologies that overcome the restrictions of conventional research.

Phoebe Kent - Head of Behavioural Innovation, Cowry Consulting
As Head of Behavioural Innovation, Phoebe uses her background in Applied
Psychology and Behavioural Economics to develop creative and
scientifically-robust solutions using Cowry’s bespoke innovation framework.
Phoebe has worked closely with leading brands to design new experiences
with behavioural science at the heart, embed behavioural science capability
at scale and solve high-priority behavioural challenges.

Faith Kitchen, Customer Segment Director, Ecclesiastical Insurance
Faith is Customer Segment Director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, responsible for Customer Insight, Thought Leadership and Proposition Development as well as representing ‘voice of the customer’ within the organisation.  Faith also maintains and develops key relationships within the industry sectors’ Ecclesiastical serves.  She has over 24 year experience within Financial Services, with an Underwriting and Marketing background.  She’s also a qualified Counsellor and has a keen interest in people and psychology.

Peter Lee, Research Specialist, The People’s Partnership

Brittney McGeough, Customer Insights Manager, HSBC 
Brittney drove Global CEOs and executive communications for 7 years at UBS and HSBC, before becoming a customer insights manager for Wealth and Personal Banking. She specialises in activating owned and subscribed insights, external benchmarking capabilities and co-leads the creation of our new online customer platform coming 2024. She is dual US and UK citizen, living in London.

Neha Mittal, Practice Director, C Space
Neha leads the CX/UX research practice at C Space, where she uses her global experience and deep understanding of tech and financial services to amplify the voices of underserved audiences, driving positive change in product development and business strategy.

Jamie Morawiec, Associate Partner Data Science and Insight, CACI
Jamie is an expert in segmentation, predictive modelling and spatial analytics. For more than 15 years, he’s worked alongside high street banks, retailers and other consumer brands to solve problems and challenge thinking. 
In recent years, Jamie has worked with the industry on access to banking, access to cash, and understanding the importance of these to vulnerable customers. At CACI he leads a team of data scientists, combining rigour and robustness with a passion for common sense and explainable solutions that work in the real world.

Jeremy Mugridge, Marketing Director, Quilter

Richard Owen, Firefish
A proven research innovator over a 30 year career, spanning three continents and mixing agency side with technology starts ups and transformation roles. Now firmly focused on the opportunities and challenges AI brings to the industry.
Introduced a wide range of technologies to create new ways of gathering insight and integrated distillation and curation technologies into company workflows to drive efficiency improvements in analysis and delivery.
As a proven builder of businesses, he started his career at Kantar Millward Brown in the UK before heading to the US, joining Hall & Partners to launch their Chicago office and helping scale the business prior to its sale to Omnicom. On his return to the UK he built the CrowdLab mobile platform which scaled and eventually sold to Dynata.
He joined the Board of Firefish in February this year when he leads on keeping the agency and their offer at the cutting edge of research innovation.

Lauren Peel, Director of Consumer Insights and Propositions, Fair4All Finance
Lauren is an expert in designing solutions that meet the needs of consumers, and in her role at Fair4All Finance works with banks, building societies, FinTechs and other organsiations to ensure that the whole sector is working to meet the needs of people in financially vulnerable circumstances. The compounded impacts of Covid-19 and the Cost of Living crisis, as well as the requirements of the Consumer Duty, mean that all organisations should be considering how they can better serve the 17.5m people experiencing financial vulnerability.
Fair4All Finance is a publicly funded non-profit working to increase the financial resilience and wellbeing of people in vulnerable circumstances.

Matt Picton, Head of Strategic Insight, Differentology

Sam Robertson, Director Strategic Insight, Differentology
Sam has most recently led exploratory, multi-market projects for global clients like HSBC. Last year he ran a landmark futures piece for Sky Media exploring the future of the customer journey (3-5 year horizon), specifically looking at the role of tech. Previously, he has worked in a cultural insights agency and led a study on Man vs Machine in the early days of AI’s ascent. He is Australian born and bred for his sins. 

Stephanie Shaarwi, Managing Director, Irrational Agency
Steph has worked in research for more than 20 years; she started her career at Ipsos, going on to then work for Future Thinking, Hall and Partners and Basis Research. She is a multi-method international researcher who specialises in delivering insight at the most senior levels. Since joining Irrational Agency she has focused on bringing award winning behavioural research to clients in a broad range of sectors including tech, finance, fmcg and pharma. Some of her areas of expertise include therapeutic qual, segmentations, behaviour change and minority/at risk audiences.

Becky Swarbrick, Customer Insight Consultant, Allianz
Becky has over 25 years' insight expertise, having working in both agency and client-side roles. With experience gained both in the UK and internationally, she has recently returned from working overseas to pursue her current role at Allianz, leading the delivery of Customer Experience and Consumer Duty research for the Commercial business.

Ric Tizard, Head of Customer Insight, NEST (National Savings Employment Trust)
Ric is Head of Customer Insight at Nest. He has had a lifelong career in research and analysis, working in various sectors including telecommunications, utilities, transport, spirits and financial services. Ric’s career shows real diversity, with experience managing international tracking studies on preference and usage of mobile phones and whisky (not at the same time!), developing customer satisfaction programmes for BT, new product development in the building industry and innovative specialist binoculars for bird watchers. During his time at Nest Ric has been at the forefront of customer insight initiatives which have supported the development of Nest’s products, service and communications, including establishing their Voice of the Customer Programme and Nest’s Your Way member research community.

Maria Twigge, CSO, FlexMR
Maria has been with FlexMR for 13 years, having studied Psychology Maria joined the team as a researcher and has delivered research for brands including ITV, VISA, British Gas and Morrisons. Maria now leads new business partnerships, designing innovative and agile solutions to insight problems with the FlexMR team to join technology and expertise for business success.

Nick Watkins, Director of Research, SAGA

Mark Webster, Head of Innovation, the numbers lab
Over a decade of experience partnering with some of the world’s most iconic brands in placing insight at the centre of marketing decision making, including some of the UK’s largest financial services organisations.
Holds a particular passion for utilising future-facing data-driven methods to shape brand, media and communications effectiveness. Beyond pioneering new methods this also includes the development and implementation of brand equity and guidance philosophy and frameworks.
Initial career started within Kantar (formally Millward Brown), and now functions of Head of Innovation for The Numbers Lab, future-proofing our quantitative toolkit as part of Firefish’s wider data, culture and human understanding offer.


09.00 Registration & coffee


09.30 Welcome from the Chair
Nick Watkins


09.40 Getting to the ‘Good Place’: how do you get a room full of accountants to invest in brand?
This is the award-winning story of how carefully conceived and executed research proved the case for investment in brand building – and then showed the marketing was working, year after year.
Skipton Building Society (SBS) and Trinity McQueen will share their journey, from the initial conjoint research which demonstrated that 40% of purchase decisions were driven by brand, to extensive ethnography that revealed customers’ key brand pillars and brand tracking which measured the on-going impact of changes implemented.
In just three years, the SBS brand has been transformed. The ‘Good Place’ campaign has run continuously since 2019 with the brand story developing every year. The econometric evidence is clear and unequivocal with brand awareness, growth, cohort and geographical reach all growing substantially.
Anna Cliffe, Managing Director, Trinity McQueen
Rebecca Henson, Senior Researcher, Skipton Building Society
Winner of MRS Award for Financial Services Research 2022


10.10 Panel -  From uncertainty to authenticity: navigating the cost-of-living crisis
In the ever-evolving financial services landscape, uncertainty is the new norm, presenting unique challenges for UK consumers as we adapt our purchasing behaviours.  Join us as we explore how shifting dynamics are leading customers to seek authentic voices and alternatives beyond traditional banking partners. Uncover the emotional toll on individuals and the importance of building lasting connections based on authenticity and trust. This discussion aims to illuminate the behaviours of customers during these uncertain times by bringing to life rich human stories that resonate with the current financial climate.

  • Understanding the changing financial climate: explore the state of the cost of living in the UK and how it has influenced consumer confidence in traditional institutions
  • Seeking authentic voices: discover how consumers gravitate towards authentic voices and alternative solutions in their pursuit of financial security
  • The emotional impact: delve into the emotional toll of the cost-of-living crisis on individuals and how it is reshaping their perception of value and their spending behaviours
  • Building lasting connections: emphasise the importance of authenticity and trust in developing strong, enduring relationships with customers for financial service providers

Chair: Dr Nick Coates, Global Consultancy Director
Sarah Emmerson, Insight Manager, Visa Europe
Neha Mittal, Practice Director, C Space
Jenny Lovell, Head of UK Insights, eBay


10.40 Morning refreshments


11.10 A call to arms for brand equity: how long-term consumer trust in banks shapes short-term headlines
People continue to search for banks they can rely upon, be it multi-nationals or disruptive FinTech brands. In these troubled times, it is more incumbent than ever that market research continues to evidence why long-term brand matters when performance driven marketing is evermore seductive.
This session, based on primary research across 1500 consumers, and vast social scraping of UK conversations, will examine long-term trust-building through the lens of the flashpoint of the SVB banking crash and the subsequent rapid shockwaves felt across UK banking.
Mark Webster, Head of Innovation, the numbers lab
Rich Owen, Board Director, Head of Innovation, Firefish


11.40 Panel - How Consumer Duty has transformed insight's role in financial services
The FCA’s Consumer Duty rule has had a big impact on how financial firms run compliance. It has created a new role for insight teams working in tandem with regulatory & compliance functions and enhanced the visibility of insight at board level. It also explicitly embeds behavioural science research into companies’ compliance processes.
This panel brings together financial services providers to discuss how they prepared for the Consumer Duty. Hear how each team used behavioural science, qualitative and quantitative research, and behavioural design. Examine the choices they made, the role insight played and the discoveries and changes they made in their journey to ensuring better consumer outcomes.
Chair: Stephanie Shaarwi, Managing Director, Irrational Agency
Becky Swarbrick, Customer Insight Consultant, Allianz
Faith Kitchen, Customer Segment Director, Ecclesiastical Insurance
Peter Lee, Research Specialist, The People’s Partnership


12.10 Defining financial vulnerability in the UK to accelerate system wide change
As an under-served and excluded consumer group, it is critical to define and understand those who are financially vulnerable. Through a collaborative partnership, Fair4All Finance developed the first segmentation available for application across the financial services market that focuses explicitly on those in vulnerable financial circumstances. 
Hear how the segmentation was built based on representative and inclusive research that reached marginalised groups through taking the research directly to them. Examine how this research contributes to building the resilience of those in difficult financial circumstances, whilst maximising the opportunity for financial service providers to diversify their customer base. 
Tom Johnson, Managing Director, Trajectory Partnership 
Jamie Morawiec, Associate Partner Data Science and Insight, CACI
Lauren Peel, Director of Consumer Insights and Propositions, Fair4All Finance


12.40 Lunch


13.40  Panel: Building trust and engagement with Gen Z and navigating an evolving financial landscape

Gen Z are exploring new and risky ways to keep on top of their finances in a challenging ‘cost of living’ economy, with 1 in 5 turning to social media for often unregulated advice. Through clear messaging via the right channels, established FS brands have the chance to become a trusted partner for the next generation, but risk falling behind challenger brands if they don’t act fast.
Join Savanta and a panel of Gen Z financial consumers to find out what makes them tick, how to connect with them and ultimately, how to build trust with financial customers of tomorrow.
Kathy Ellison, Director, Savanta
Josephine Hansom, Vice President and Youth Practice Lead, Savanta


14.10 Going Solar: Taking an innovative approach to engaging pension members in ESG investments
The challenge of linking wider ESG actions to customer or member engagement is one that continues to persist within financial services. For workplace pension providers, this provides an additional hurdle given the low engagement within the category. This session will tell the story of how Nest, working with their online community provider, Human8, took a genuinely innovative approach of inviting members to a new solar farm investment as part of their ambition to engage members with the recent acquisition. The session will outline the benefits and watch outs with testing this innovative approach and with the aim of inspiring discussion around how, as a sector, we need to look at ways that member-centric approaches can be activated to overcome the engagement gap.
Esin Balcisoy, Senior Research Manager, Human8
Ric Tizard, Head of Customer Insight, NEST (National Savings Employment Trust)


14.40 Afternoon refreshments


15.00 Building excellence in financial research 
A question-and-answer session exploring how Paragon Bank engages the wider financial services organisation, influences stakeholder decisions and drives financial wellbeing for customers.
Maria Twigge, CSO, FlexMR
In conversation with
Jo Caley, Senior Insight Manager, Paragon Bank


15.30 The science behind understanding financial information
Low customer confidence in finances, low literacy rates in the UK, and the inherent complexity of financial products all contribute to a poor customer experience. So, Quilter and Cowry collaborated to develop a scientific approach to communicating financial information to customers that would meet the FCA’s new Consumer Duty standards.
In this session you’ll hear how using an innovative research approach, built on the Information Processing Theory (IFP), Cowry tested 28 behavioural science principles and uncovered the 15 best techniques that significantly improved consumer understanding both at a subconscious and conscious level.
Phoebe Kent - Head of Behavioural Innovation, Cowry Consulting
Natalia Gomez - Behavioural Research Manager, Cowry Consulting
Jeremy Mugridge, Marketing Director, Quilter


16.00 Enriching insights: the journey to HSBC's transformational attitudinal & behavioural segmentation strategy
Combining demographics with attitude and behavioural research has created a richer tapestry of insight for HSBC. In this session, HSBC, together with Differentology, will share how they set out to understand the key dimensions that meaningfully differentiate attitudes and behaviours towards wealth management. Find out how this project laid the foundation for a global segmentation study, with extensive qualitative exploration and quantitative validation, across 12 markets and how the insight is becoming the cornerstone for HSBC’s segmentation, targeting, and activation strategy.
Matt Picton, Head of Strategic Insight, Differentology
Sam Robertson, Director Strategic Insight, Differentology
Wei Lun Huang, Head of Product Strategy and Proposition, HSBC
Brittney McGeough, Customer Insights Manager, HSBC 


16.30 Using qual-led research to drive improvements in advisor / client engagement
This case study will demonstrate how qual-led research puts consumers and their needs at the heart of long-term financial planning.
Solomon had a hypothesis that in delivering the annual suitability assessment, the client to adviser relationship had become more about products than about financial planning, and that relationships were being simply transactional.
Working with Flume they took a qualitative approach to improving understanding of the customer/advisor relationship, exploring ways in which advisors can both engage with and educate their clients. The research evaluated a blueprint for new planning tools and materials and sought to challenge the status-quo for client reviews and associated documents.
Rebecca Harries, Research Director, Flume
James Dell, Solomon


17.00 End of conference

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