What can the financial services industry learn about loyalty and engagement from the world of fitness? More than you might expect. The fitness industry, specifically brands like Peloton and Noom, have embraced the principles of positive psychology to change the way people approach working out and weight loss. Instead of considering fitness a means to lose weight, positive psychology reframes the relationship between people, their diet, and their fitness, to be goal-oriented and fulfilling. Now the practice of positive psychology is working its way from the fitness industry to financial services.

What Is Positive Psychology?

Positive psychology is the study of behaviors that lead humans to live their most fulfilled, meaningful lives. It encourages human flourishing and, according to founding advisor at Positivly, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, it “strengthens optimism, hope, relationships and self-esteem.” Positive psychology uses meaning and engagement to restructure our mental frameworks, to go beyond just avoiding the negative, to achieving the positive.  

Peloton uses positive psychology to do three things: empower riders by tapping into their emotions, create consistency and engagement, and make working out accessible for their consumers. 

How Positive Psychology Creates Deeper, More Meaningful Connections

When Peloton riders join a live class, instructors use positive reinforcement and emotion to motivate riders to push themselves and beat their records. Instead of focusing solely on encouraging riders to lose weight, instructors push their class to ride for a greater cause. Whether it’s being their best selves, overcoming obstacles, or riding for someone who can’t, these inspirational messages lend a deeper meaning and purpose to each ride. 

Riders leave filled with a sense of accomplishment and self worth. Creating a positive emotional connection to working out underscores the relationship between fitness and self esteem, versus just working out to lose weight. This is what keeps Peloton riders consistently coming back for more. They subconsciously adopt a positive lens, viewing rides as an opportunity to better themselves, rather than a necessary chore. 

Like fitness, investing can be challenging for many Americans. In fact, according to Acorns, 39% of Americans have nothing invested in the stock market, and even more have very negative views of investing in general. However, investing can be an effective way to generate wealth. According to Investopedia, the S&P 500 index (a benchmark of American stock market performance) has returned a historic annualized average return of around 10% since its inception through 2019. And while there was a time when you could put your money into a Certificate of Deposit (CD) with the possibility of earning a 10% yield, as of Dec. 2, 2020, the average 1-year CD had an annual percentage yield of just 0.24 percent, according to Bankrate.

Applying Positive Psychology to Investing

The same Positive Psychology strategies embraced by the fitness industry can be applied to investing. At Positivly, we create an investing experience that’s personalized for investors, creating an avenue for them to express their values and viewpoints. It starts with an assessment of their financial personality, which can help them craft an investing strategy that matches their motivations and unique financial mindset. 

Positivly’s three-minute assessment is built on the foundational models of positive psychology. We use the results of the survey to deeply analyze each individual’s financial personality to determine what motivates their financial decisions, what they value most, and their goals for investing and the world they envision. 

The assessment results provide individuals with their own “PSTV” score based on four dominant personality traits: Purpose, Security, Touch, and Viewpoints.  While some individuals are more purpose-driven, others are security minded. Some seek to get things right through their views, or look to secure tangible control over their finances. The resulting insights can be used to craft a hyper-personalized investment strategy. Positivly extends this personalized investing experience by giving investors the option to be matched with financial advisors who share similar financial personality traits. 

Using an investor’s unique financial personality, values, and world view as a starting point for creating a portfolio, financial advisors can transform the investing experience; replacing what can be an opaque and stressful experience for investors with a sense of societal impact and financial happiness. Directing money towards the companies and causes most important to the investor can also make market swings more palatable as investors feel more involved in their financial decisions and good about where their money is going. Centered around emotions and goal-driven behavior, Positivly makes the science of investing more human. If we can reframe the narrative of “working out to lose weight” to “working out to feel good”, we can also shift from “investing to make money” to “investing to feel good.”

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