Use the Castlight brain to stay ahead of the game

The brain makes around 700 new connections each day – every time we do something for the first time or absorb new information, brand new neural pathways are formed. And the more connections we make and continue to use, the more effectively our brain works for us.

At Castlight Financial our data scientists and our customers are making connections between our products all the time. Our developers are making leaps between products, developing syntheses of ideas to create new services to meet the ever changing needs of the financial marketplace. And our clients too, are making connections, moving through one product to another, merging products, asking us to develop new products, bolting on aspects of one product to another.

And as our customers work with our developers and implementation teams, every day we see new connections being made between our customers’ pursuit of excellence and the solutions we can offer. New neural pathways are being formed, our customers’ businesses are being strengthened.

So that’s why I like to use the analogy of Castlight’s product portfolio as a brain – with neural pathways all leading off to different products – but with myriads of connections between them.

Castlight Financial portfolio of digital tools

Digital tools are too often put in a “toolkit” which is a perfectly good analogy for the way digital tools are used in many companies. But for us, I think the toolbox is too static. Once you’ve used a tool you put it back in the box and take another one out. We don’t want our customers to use our tools like that. We believe our customers will benefit if they sometimes use more than one tool at a time, if they adapt the tool as they go along, combine two tools together or get someone to run after them with a new tool that was never even in the box. And we also believe that our tools will make such a difference to our customers’ business that they will never want to put them back in the toolkit.

That’s why using the analogy of a brain to think about Castlight Financial’s portfolio of digital tools works so much better for us.

If we stay with the picture of the brain, our tools are located in different nerve centres of the brain. Some are more right brained products – intuitive, thoughtful and subjective. Products for instance like our Financial IQ, which uses customers’ transactional data to provide advanced insights into spending behaviour and reports its findings as a “persona” with a Financial IQ score and a set of uniquely individual predictive behaviours. It’s a product that understands how people think and behave. Other products are perhaps more left brained – more logical, analytical and objective such as CaaS or Categorisation as a Service. CaaS is the world’s most powerful engine for categorising and interpreting customers’ transactional data, which will, within minutes, take a customer’s raw transactional data, crunch through the numbers and split the raw data into over 180 categories of discretionary and non-discretionary spending. It’s a product where the numbers tell the story.

How it works with our customers

But of course, the right brain works together with the left brain, with neurons jumping synapses, making connections all the time. And this is how it works with our customers too.

A High Street bank, for instance, may be using CastScore to reach out to customers with thin credit files, who are normally excluded from credit, and give them a chance to be fairly assessed. Then together we identify an opportunity to take a slightly different path and use CastScore to help their customers augment a traditional credit score and radically improve it. And then our hypothetical bank may recognise that they can take Castlight’s risk management customer analytics up a gear and go down the path of implementing Castlight’s Financial IQ or test their data in Castlight’s Data Labs using our APIs to review the affordability performance of their portfolio, highlight problem areas and unlock potential for growth.

Constant changes

It’s one of our most important functions as a team to help our customers identify which pathway to go down to secure the best tools to empower them to grow, and to be robust and effective for their customers.

The open banking revolution is taking hold and taking hold fast. And banks and other financial organisations need to be more nimble and innovative than ever before. We must give our customers every opportunity to move agilely in and around our product suite, using the tools that best suit their needs today and exploring those that might suit their needs tomorrow. And back in the Castlight lab we must continue to test the products we believe our customers will need next month.

In the same way that the human brain constantly changes in response to experience, helping us learn and adapt to our environment, Castlight’s products are designed to help our customers adapt to an evolving financial landscape and predict what might be around the corner.

The Joy Of Giving

If you’ve given something up for Lent, you’re in the home stretch now and that chocolate Easter egg, glass of wine or can of fizzy stuff is almost within reach. Millions of Christians around the world choose to deny themselves a treat during Lent and use it as a time to remember Christ’s sacrifice. And millions of people with different faiths or no faith equally use Lent to challenge their willpower, lose a few pounds and increasingly – raise money to help better the world around them.

You only have to look at UKFundraising’s website to see the range of creative fundraising campaigns which the UK’s biggest charities have devised in order to tap into this universal spirit of wanting to do something good for others this Easter.

Sense of Happiness

And giving makes us feel good – that’s a fact. At least according to results of research published recently by O’Brien and Kassirer in Psychology Today which showed that a group of people given $5 to spend on the same treat for themselves each day for 5 days, recorded a lower sense of happiness at the end of the study that the group who were tasked to spend their $5 each day on other people.

But what if you don’t have a spare fiver? What if you are up to the wire, the cheese wire even, at the end of every month? Does that disenfranchise you from the happiness of giving? I think it does.

Financial Health

Digital journalist Jack Derwin recently wrote a helpful article for the Australian edition of Your Money in which he listed 5 signs of financial health, all of which I’d wholeheartedly endorse. https://bit.ly/2UtmEWt

But the one that really caught my attention was the fifth point where he says “the final sign of financial wellbeing is having the ability to give to others. Whether it’s supporting your favourite charity, giving to a worthy cause or helping out a friend in need, the capacity to give is a mark of true financial freedom.”

Financial Wellness

Financial wellness is not just about getting the numbers to line up on the right side in your bank account – although it is certainly about that. It’s also about holistic wellness – getting someone into a position where they are in control of their finances and therefore in control of their lives.

That’s what our Affordability Passport is all about. We use state of the art open banking technology and the world’s fastest categorisation engine to do it, but what I love is that one of the things we can achieve for our customers is one of the world’s simplest and most ancient of pleasures. The joy of giving.

 

Interesting Times

When reviewing the constant Brexit news coverage, it’s perhaps worth remembering Robert Kennedy’s speech in Cape Town in June 1966 when he said:

“There is a Chinese curse which says ‘May he live in interesting times.’ Like it or not we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history.”

We too are living in interesting times and, as Kennedy so rightly pointed out, interesting times bring not only uncertainty but opportunity.

Nugget of Opportunity

I was thinking about this when I was reading a recent issue of Mortgage Strategy. The story headlined “Number of house hunters lowest in seven years”, and reported that, according to figures from NAEA Property Mark, the average number of house hunters registered per estate agency branch dropped by 18% in February from 309 at the same time last year to 252 this year.

That’s perhaps not surprising at a time of uncertainty like this. But tucked a bit further down the story, the journalist, Leah Milner, reported an interesting nugget of opportunity for first time buyers. The figures also suggested that “first-time buyers are taking advantage of a less competitive market, as the proportion of sales to this group reached a seven-month high of 30 per cent.”

Be Prepared

That’s good news for the first time buyers who have clearly seen an opportunity and been nimble enough to take advantage of it. And I think it’s a lesson for all of us. Be prepared. We don’t know how things are going to shake out over the next weeks and months, but we can be prepared and ready for opportunities which may present themselves.

Castlight’s Affordability Passport is a good way of ensuring that you can move quickly on a mortgage or a loan if an opportunity crops up. It’s a 10 minute on-line process to  provide your lender with all the financial information he or she needs to process an application – no bank statements required. Whether you are a first time buyer or not the market is shifting in new and interesting ways and it has to be a good thing to be poised for action.

New Creative Energy

We are indeed living in interesting times, and yes they are uncertain. But I like Kennedy’s optimism that uncertainty also creates opportunity. And I believe that we too can use the “times” in which we find ourselves to be open to a new creative energy.

In fact, we have been burning enough creative energy recently to power a small factory with the result that Version 3 of the Affordability Passport is just around the corner, with hugely innovative new features and creative user experiences.

Exciting times indeed.

Castlight Achieves ISO-27001 Accreditation

A huge congratulations to Murdo Thomson, our Chief Information Security Officer, and his team, who have secured ISO-27001 accreditation for Castlight.

ISO-27001 is the only audited international standard that defines the requirements of a robust information management system. And securing the standard demonstrates that an organisation has defined and put in place best-practice information security processes.

Key Strength

We knew our information security was one of our company’s key strengths, but we wanted to challenge ourselves. So we volunteered to put ourselves through the wringer and have the robustness of all our policies, procedures and processes tested and squeezed.

And after three months of Murdo checking every aspect of our information security systems against the requirements of ISO-27001 and two days of rigorous examination – we passed! And we are now proud to be just one of a handful of fintech companies in the UK who have achieved the standard.

Data Safeguard

Our clients entrust their data to us and it has always been part of the DNA of our business  practice and processes that we respect and safeguard that data. We invested a significant amount of time and energy to achieve the ISO-27001 standard because we felt  strongly that our customers deserved it. We believe that we owe it to them to provide, not only our assurances that their data was safe, but also validation from an internationally recognised standards authority.

I think Murdo would agree that the ISO-27001 journey has been hard work but hugely rewarding. From where I sit, in addition to the satisfaction of having our information security processes and practices externally endorsed, I feel that ISO-27001 has given us a new appreciation that information security is not just the responsibility of Murdo’s department. It’s embedded in everything we do, every relationship across our different departments and every dealing with every customer.

Heart Of Our Value System

But perhaps most importantly, ISO-27001 has made us more aware that information security is at the very heart of our value system, that it’s part of the ethical way we strive to do things at Castlight.

The ISO-27001 auditors couldn’t test us on our values. But I hope they sensed what was close to our hearts when they they were with us.

The Importance Of Data Ethics – For Alan Turing and Castlight

Back in the 1940s when Alan Turing was developing the technology to break the Enigma Code, he was faced with a serious data ethics situation. If his code breaking machine was used to prevent every potential bombing of a ship, the German operators would know straightaway that the code had been cracked and the technology would be redundant. What Turing did was develop an ethical algorithm which was designed to maximise the number of lives saved whilst sustaining the viability of the code.

This is part of Turing’s story as told on the website of The Alan Turing Institute (turing.ac.uk) ,which more than seven decades on, is committed to exploring how data science and AI can be used for the good of society and to support initiatives which bring innovation and ethics together.

It’s so good to know that there’s a UK institute dedicated to promoting the understanding and integration of ethics into the work of the data community.

Digitally Hardwired Ethics

At Castlight, we have always “digitally hardwired” ethics into everything we do with data. First and foremost is our ethical commitment to respect our customers’ data, to treat it with care, protect it with the highest level of security, ensure its anonymity and honour its restricted use within our business to improve our product for our customers.

But our commitment to the ethical use of data is also integral to our product development processes. When we categorise a customer’s transactional data into over 180 categories of discretionary and non-discretionary spending, we believe it’s crucial that every item is correctly evaluated and categorised.

We drill right down to the detail when we make a categorisation decision because our customers have entrusted us with their data and sometimes very important life decisions are being made on the results of the transactional analysis we are conducting for them.

Finer Points of Categorisation

We really do sit around the table and debate the finer points of categorisation such as whether Holland and Barrett is primarily a retailer of food or supplements. Our customers are probably spending a tiny fraction of their income at Holland and Barrett, but it’s important to us that we get it right. If we categorise Holland and Barrett as a food outlet, then for our customer it’s a non-discretionary outlay, if we categorise the shop as a supplements retailer then the outlay is discretionary. It matters.

The importance of the devil of the detail was brought home to me this week when I ran my own transactional data through our CaaS® (Categorisation as a Service) engine. I was delighted that CaaS® was able to correctly recognise that my payment to the Grosvenor was to see a film at Glasgow’s Grosvenor cinema and not to make an on-line bet. If I had been a foreign film junkie and CaaS® had mis-filed my Grosvenor tickets in a betting category, I might have jeopardised a mortgage application.

Honesty Default

But our code of ethics isn’t only rooted in ensuring our customers have the best, most accurate and fairest categorisation analysis. We have also trained our categorisation engine to have a built in honesty default. I love this aspect of CaaS®. It would fit right into the utopian world of the film The Invention of Lying, before Ricky Gervais’s character invented the lie.

CaaS® is honest to its very core. When the engine comes across a transaction it isn’t 100% sure about, it assesses its own level of uncertainty and if it doesn’t hit the very high bar of classification certainty, it refers itself for verification. It recognises that, it is after all,  not human and needs some human intervention. At this point a customer will get the opportunity, for example, to clarify whether their M&S purchases were for food or clothes or the Morrisons forecourt debit was for fuel or de-icing kit. The CaaS engine is then taught by these experiences, and the millions of categorisation decisions it makes, and gradually becomes more and more certain of these less clear-cut classifications, and refers itself less often for verification.

So in a climate where digital security can sometimes seem to pose insurmountable, it is worth taking note of the Alan Turing Institute’s assessment when it says: “…there is reason to be optimistic. As it turns out, the challenges posed by these modern fields of data science and AI can be addressed by one of the oldest – ethics.”

Finishing Lines Are Not The End Of The Race

Kara Goldin is the founder and CEO of San-Francisco based “hint” – a cool, lower-case company that produces flavoured water with no sweeteners and nothing artificial. It’s currently pretty much the de facto drink of Silicon Valley, so my guess is that it won’t be long before we see it landing on our shores, maybe even edging out Evian with its crisp apple or grapefruit fizz flavours.

Something Disruptive

Interesting stuff but I’m actually a tap water man myself, so it’s not Ms Goldin’s product that grabbed my attention when I read about her disruptor story in Forbes. It’s her philosophy, the vision behind her water that interested me. Here’s what she says about creating something new, something disruptive:

“Being the first to achieve something great, whether accidental or intended, always deserves praise. However, the proverbial satin ribbon at the finish line is never the end of the race if you have a larger goal in mind. How do you want to change society and the world? For me, creating an innovative product that disrupted the beverage industry was phase one; my larger goal is to make America healthy and reduce the skyrocketing rates of diabetes, obesity, and nutrition-related disease.  If your goal is great enough, being first will be just one small step in a lifetime of hard work and passion. I still have my work cut out for me, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

I love the way Kara Goldin sees the big picture and has set her sights on the bigger goal. She has developed a hugely successful product, encouraged people to drink more water and reduced the sugar load of Silicon Valley and beyond. But that’s not good enough for her. She wants to change society and the world.

Not Finished the Race

We want to do that too. Our suite of affordability tools such as CastScore and the Affordability Passport have been developed to help people achieve and sustain financial wellbeing and to access and manage credit safely. These tools have been adopted by some of the UK’s major banks and brokers and are helping to ensure that hundreds of thousands of customers can borrow what they are able to repay and only what they are able to repay. In many ways we have smashed through satin ribbons at the end of finish lines. But like Ms Goldin said, we’ve not finished the race.

Our corporate strapline expresses our vision – we want to build “a safer financial world” and that’s why we are continuing to create content and products that empower consumers to better understand their financial landscape so they can make better, safer financial decisions.

Reaching High

There Ms Goldin is reaching high to tackle “skyrocketing rates of diabetes, obesity, and nutrition-related disease”, we are reaching high to ensure there is never again a financial tsunami like there was in 2008. We are reaching high to enfranchise millennials with thin credit files and other marginalised groups currently exiled from safe, affordable credit.

And to do this, to change the world, we know we have to do things differently. Again, Ms Goldin hits the nail on the head: “you have to hire differently” she says.

Social Capitalists

She’s right. And we do. We hire social capitalists – people we know are driven by acting for the greater good, who want to make the world a better place. We recruit people with vision, integrity and with spirit, who are committed to helping us build an ethical organisation and who are passionate about developing ethical products.

As a team we all have a lot of work to do, new products to get over that finishing line. But like Kara Goldin, it’s good to keep reminding ourselves that we’ve only just begun changing the world!

CastScore Is Becoming Ever More Human

We’ve said before that “nobody is average”. But it’s something worth repeating because it’s so fundamental to our vision for Castlight.

We are living in an environment where it’s easy to feel that many companies think they know us simply because they have some limited data on our life and our choices.

Market researchers and pollsters will put us into categories depending on our age, ethnicity, where we live and what we earn. Amazon will recommend what book we might want to read next, based on what we read last week. Sainsbury’s will send us money-off vouchers for food items they think we might want to buy again because we bought them before and Facebook will suggest new friends, because they are friends with other friends.

I’m not saying these aren’t helpful interventions. They are just limited, suggestions based simply on what, on average, people would do or want, given an average situation or choice.

Categorisation As A Tool

At Castlight Financial, we don’t do “average” and we don’t fit people into categories. In fact we have turned that entire concept on its head. We use categorisation as a tool for individuals to demonstrate their unique financial behaviours. Our categories are used to serve our customers, to demonstrate their differences.

Our CastScore, the world’s first affordability score, measures an individual’s affordability, their capacity to take on safe credit, by taking that individual’s transactional data and categorising it into over 180 categories of income and outgoings. And then it creates a unique 3D picture of their affordability.

The result of this? A CastScore affordability score which records the nuances of an individual’s financial behaviour and reflects the complexity of an individual’s life.

Nuanced Financial Behaviours

The categorisation engine which underpins CastScore is the most powerful engine of its kind in the UK. We are proud of this. But where we are going now, in 2019, is truly ground breaking. The Chinese may have made it to the dark side of the moon, but I am even more excited by what our team of data scientists are doing with our categorisation engine. CaaS, our engine, is constantly being trained by our data science team to “think” more like a human. They are creating an entire “interpretive” layer of technology over the number crunching and category sorting layer. That means, when it reviews an individual’s transactional data it records or “understands” way more than a set of credits and debits. It interprets the transactions and recognises nuanced financial behaviours. It understands the stories of people’s unique financial lives.

CastScore for instance, understands Black Friday. It understands Christmas. It understands that a baby has been born or a student has set up in a new flat. The interpretative technology recognises that these are blips of event-specific spending. It understands why the account has wobbled and it sees it steady again. It understands context and factors it in to its affordability scoring.

Growing Ever More Human

It’s a tough old world out there for many people and I’m thrilled that CastScore’s ability to “understand” provides what I like to call “redemptive” technology. That is, affordability technology that allows for mistakes to be made and then corrected, forgiven.

And CastScore’s interpretive function is not only helping individuals who experience blips in their spending patterns. It’s also enfranchising customers with thin credit files, by allowing them to demonstrate their unique stories and understanding their financial journeys.

I’ll come back to CastScore, there’s so much more to tell. But for now, I’m so delighted that CastScore is growing ever more human, all the more equipped to see us in all our glorious individuality and difference.

Here’s How I See 2019 … And Avocado Ice Cream

Wholefoods are predicting that 2019 will see avocado ice cream and seaweed butter flying off the shelves. Forbes magazine reckons that in-car voice shopping may be on its way, allowing us to get the weekly shop done on the daily commute. And booking.com believes that this year, city breaks and sunshine holidays will be making room for the coming of age of the Appren-trip – a kind of holiday-come-learning experience.


Make a real difference

Whatever industry you’re in, the beginning of January is a fun time to make predictions, just as much as it is a serious time to look ahead, agree corporate strategy and set priorities. At Castlight we have looked at the year ahead and what has struck me is that we have 12 brand new months of opportunity and responsibility. A fresh new year on which to make our mark, leave a legacy but most importantly, make a real difference.

I like the American management consultant Peter Drucker’s take on predictions, when he said: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Shape the future of credit

So, that’s what we are going to do. In 2019 we are going to create the future. We are going to change lives for the better.

More specifically, we are going to change lives by continuing to create and shape the future of credit.

Our suite of affordability tools from the Affordability Passport to our affordability-scoring CastScore, have all been developed to ensure people only take on debt they can afford to repay whilst at the same time enfranchising people with thin files, helping people recover from debt exile and using our sophisticated financial “storying” technology to help people demonstrate their sound financial behaviours despite the odd wobble.


More than an algorithm

People are more than an algorithm. Everyone has their own financial story and the detail of these very individual stories matter to us. With the data our customers entrust to us, our technology can review the shape of their financial stories, the ins and outs of their daily transactional lives. Ultimately, these stories are transmuted into a CastScore, providing customers with safe, and often unprecedented access to affordable credit. In this way, we can change lives and create, as our strap-line reminds us, “A safer financial world.”

2019 offers up another 12 months to keep innovating, to launch new affordability products, to keep more people safe from unaffordable debt and enfranchise more people with the credit opportunities they deserve.


Gourmet curve

I hope you’ll walk with us, into 2019 and the future we plan to create as we go.

And if you want to stay ahead of the gourmet curve this year, here’s how you can make your very own avocado ice cream, the Jamie Oliver way.

https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/fruit-recipes/avocado-ice-cream/

Wishing You a Happy and Affordable Christmas

Every year statistics are published highlighting how badly we get ourselves into debt over Christmas and how long it takes us to recover. The numbers aren’t out yet as there’s more damage still to be done online and in the High Street. There’s still more plastic to smoulder.

But what I’ve found this year, in the run up to Christmas, are lots of websites suggesting innovative (and sometimes glaringly obvious) ways to save money at Christmas. I like the idea of stuffing a big cardboard box full of balloons for a toddler or concocting homemade bottles of rosemary infused olive oil for adults. There seems to be a whiff of nostalgia floating around the internet, a retro yearning for simpler times and maybe even a game of charades?

Pressure to Overspend

And it’s all good. We all need to resist the pressure to overspend on presents and then buy Christmas themed things we don’t need. Like a Christmas jumper. Who started that? And why have I got one?

But in amongst the thousands of words on line about the damaging effects of overspending and the creative ideas for keeping things simple, it was the voice of Lucy on Mumsnet that made me think.

“Unfortunately this month we don’t seem to have much money spare. I had put some money aside but due to an issue with my car that’s all gone.


 There is 9 people in total to buy for.


I’m spending roughly £20 – £30 per person but it will mean I have to use my credit card. I’m so careful with money normally and try to never use my credit card so I just feel like there’s a massive weight on my mind.”

Financial Blip 

Lucy hadn’t overspent this month. She’s careful with her money and she had specifically saved for Christmas. But her car broke down and her budget unravelled. Lucy is not alone – she speaks for thousands of families across the UK, who are just one financial blip away from debt.

These are the people for whom many of Castlight Financial’s products have been developed and which are now being widely used by some of the UK’s biggest banks. CaaS (Categorisation as a Service), CastScore and the Affordability Passport are all designed, in their different ways, to help banks and other financial institutions support customers who might experience a bump in the road. They provide lenders with unprecedented levels of information and insights into a customer’s finances, so that they are able to get a 3D picture of a person, their life, their financial behaviours and spending patterns and support them through difficult times of the year, like Christmas.

Thank You

I hope Lucy has a bank account with HSBC or one of the other financial institutions who use our affordability tools. Because if she does, she won’t need to tell them that she’s normally so careful with money. They will already know that. And that ability to really know  their customer means much greater financial security for Lucy, not just in December but all the way through the year.

We are proud of our affordability products and the positive impact they have had on thousands of people’s lives this year. I am confident that next year we will make even more progress. And my dream is that no-one will post messages of financial desperation on Mumsnet ever again.

Happy Christmas to everyone who has shared this blog year with me – thank you for your interest and support.

And for those of you I might see over Christmas, I hope you like your olive oil infused with rosemary?

Casting Light at Christmas

Yesterday evening I was listening to the story of a young family man, working in the financial services industry who, on Christmas Eve was on the brink of taking his own life. The financial services company he was running had lost money, investors’ finances were threatened, and criminal charges were looking unavoidable.

This is a story that would not be unfamiliar to charities like the Samaritans and Mind, particularly in the dark days of the 2007 financial tsunami.

But happily, and rather unusually, this young banker was saved at the last minute … by his guardian angel.

It’s a Wonderful Life

The guardian angel was Clarence, the young financier was George Bailey and the story, It’s a Wonderful Life, is watched by millions of us every Christmas.

It’s fiction of course, but like some of the best stories, it is shot through with the starkest of truths. And in this instance, the darkest of truths. This was a guy under intense financial pressure, whose financial distress had seeped out to affect his whole life and distort his sense of his own worth.

It got me thinking….

At Castlight, we strive, above everything else to deliver ‘a safer financial world’ and I’d like to think we could have helped George Bailey, long before he stood on the edge of the bridge on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Pressure

For anyone unfamiliar with the plot, here’s a quick summary. When George Bailey’s father died, leaving the Building and Loan company without a director, George gave his college tuition money to his brother Harry and unwillingly took up the reins, on the condition that Harry took over the Building and Loan when he finished uni. Four years later, Harry returned with a job offer from his father in law and George resigned himself to keep running the family firm. Sometime later, there’s a run on the bank, misplaced funds and potential arrest for George. George feels he’s let his whole family down and wishes he had never been born.

Sadly, there are a lot of people like George. So, each year, as we look forward to Christmas, it is good to be reminded by charities like Mind and the Samaritans, that for people with mental health or financial problems, Christmas can ratchet up the pressure to sometimes, catastrophic levels.

There are all sorts of reasons why people get into debt. That’s why Castlight Financial recently launched the Big View at the House of Parliament with the Big Issue’s Lord Bird. The Big View helps people in debt, often people who have been brought to the brink of despair, to get back on track, using affordability technology to understand and resolve their financial problems.

If we’d been around at the time, I believe the Big View could have helped George Bailey. We could have been his guardian angel and he would never have walked onto that bridge.

There are lots of people out there needing guardian angels and I’m glad that the Big View is doing its bit to cast light into the finances of more and more people with debt crises.

These are important, pressing issues and ones we need to think about amidst the bright lights, ringing tills and chinking glasses.

Plot Rewrite

But I’m not quite done with Its a Wonderful Life! And, with a lighter touch I’d like to leave you with some small plot re-writes which, had I been around in 1946 I would have suggested to director Frank Capra.

I think George could have gone off to university with his brother Harry, as his CastScore would have shown sound financial behaviours merged with a strong credit score and he would have got an affordable loan for Harry’s tuition fees. Uncle Billy would simply have had to step up and hold the fort until the brothers both finished university. Working at the coal face of the business Uncle Billy would have learned a thing or two about management and would never have been daft enough to misplace the $8,000 that caused all the trouble.

Four years later George and Harry, with their MScs in Fintech would return to Bedford Falls and invent the Affordability Passport. There wouldn’t have been a run on the bank, because the Building and Loan would be thriving, underpinned by the Affordability Passport and CastScore which would ensure that only people who could safely afford to repay loans would be able to take them out. George and Mary wouldn’t have to prop up the bank with their honeymoon savings and would have enjoyed a week in Paris, sipping fine wine at a pavement café.

Fortunately for all lovers of Its a Wonderful Life, Frank Capra told his story his own way. And I for one, will love it once again this Christmas.