Swell Investing

Socially responsible investing

The Swell Investing Challenge

Pacific Life, the California-based insurance and annuities company, had been working on a concept for a product to enable socially responsible investing with our frequent-collaborator IDEO. They came to Carbon Five in search of a partner to develop the platform and help them deliver the product to market.

Swell Investing had most of the technical challenges we typically associate with fintech projects: security and compliance requirements, tricky architectural choices, and integrations with third-party services. It also had a couple of big opportunities we see when working with internal enterprise innovation labs, namely: a greenfield technical landscape, a committed backer in Pacific Life, a visionary intrapraneur. Add to that a rich partnership with the incredible design minds at IDEO and we had a recipe for an incredibly enjoyable challenge.

The Process

Swell lets people invest in a number of virtual portfolios of publicly-traded companies that are committed to social good, but also return great financial returns. The first (and probably hardest) decision was to select an underlying platform to model these portfolios and execute trades. After reviewing a number of options, we recommended the platform that we felt enabled the best experience for both the folks setting up the portfolios and allowed for maximum customization of the investor experience, even if it meant a bit more development effort.

In addition to multi-faceted technical work, the team was also committed to incorporating customer feedback and adapting the product throughout the development process. Carbon Five worked closely with IDEO product and business designers to create and execute the product roadmap that included numerous opportunities for incremental research, usability testing, and stakeholder input.

The Results

After multiple releases to an internal pilot audience and a broader private beta, the blended team polished up the interaction design, focusing on creating a seamless onboarding process, for the public release. During these later milestones, Carbon Five’s Los Angeles office played host to Swell’s growing team as we helped them hire and onboard their own talented resources.

Swell also serves as a beacon project for Pacific Life as a whole, and everyone is excited to see how this product and team helps to spread positive change throughout Pacific Life.