A budgeting tool from Fidelity Investments.

Company: Fidelity Investments

Role: Product Design Lead

Challenge: how to attract our next generation of customers

Fidelity faced a challenge as their primary customers were retiring and withdrawing their retirement savings instead of contributing. The company needed to attract the next largest segment of the population: millennials.



New Signups w/in one year



Team members


To address this challenge, Fidelity adopted a strategy to meet millennials where they were, offering a blend of content and tools that addressed their current needs. The firm launched their first tool offering, Cinch, which was an easy-to-use budgeting tool designed to help users monitor their spending.

My Role

As the design lead for Cinch, I was tasked with creating a budgeting tool that would simplify the process of tracking expenses and encourage engagement with the tool over time.

Design Process

To begin the design process, we conducted a competitive analysis of existing budgeting tools. Our research showed that existing tools had high usage in the first few weeks, followed by a steep decline in engagement. We also found that users found maintaining correct categories for expenditures to be a frustrating and time-consuming task.

To identify unmet needs around money management, I conducted workshops with stakeholders, designers, and developers. Through ideation and user research, we arrived at a design concept that minimized the need for categories and relied heavily on time-series data visualization. However, further testing revealed that this approach still relied on the "expense categorization" mental model that had led to time investment fatigue and diminished engagement over time. 

To simplify the design, we iterated and conducted more user research until we arrived at the "cocktail napkin budget" - a design so simple it could be worked up on a napkin. We avoided any temptation to expect deep categorization or analytics. Given the exploratory nature of the effort as well as budgetary constraints, we focused on a responsive design that performed well across desktop and mobile experiences.


Cinch met its initial user signup KPI in only 9 months and built up a user base of several thousand over the next couple of years. Users reported the tool to be easy-to-use, as well as leaving a more favorable impression of Fidelity as meeting their needs than previously thought.



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