Enhancing strategy and decision making in financial services

Cash withdrawal



Research by the Centre for Decision Research (CDR) on the thinking and reasoning that underpins human decision making has influenced practice and policy in private and public sector organisations. The research focuses on improving financial decision making for bank customers and improving service providers’ communication with pension investors. The research has influenced government policy and private sector providers’ practices in connection with the UK pensions’ auto-enrolment scheme and resulted in better communication with mass publics and better strategic planning in organisations. Individuals benefitted both directly and indirectly from the research by receiving clearer explanations of the information they need to make important personal decisions and more targeted offers.

Our research

Since 1996 CDR has researched how people and organisations make decisions, investigating the underlying thinking, group and organisational processes, their efficacy, and the implications for improving and influencing choice behaviour. The research placed a focus on two particular areas: financial services and pensions.  In both cases the research undertaken has helped organisations to better align their strategies with individual behaviour, needs and understanding. The research was led by Barbara Summers with Klaus Schenk-Hoppé, John Maule, Alan Pearman, Darren Duxbury and Kevin Keasey.

A long-term relationship with Yorkshire Bank led to a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) (2007-2009) which was awarded ESRC 'Best Application of Social Science in a KTP 2011'. Supervised by Summers and Schenk-Hoppé, it aimed to support the decision making processes around customer product offerings and the service proposition by developing and implementing Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) measures. The research developed a new mathematical model which provides a sophisticated form of customer segmentation using an approach which is fundamentally different to models typically used.


We were impressed with the way that the KTP helped to push academic thinking forward through tackling a complex business problem.

Eloise Scott, Senior Knowledge Manager, Economic and Social Research Council (in Best of the Best KTP Awards 2011)

Research grants

  1. Klaus Reiner Schenk-Hoppé and Barbara Summers, (2007–09), To develop and implement Customer Lifetime Value measures to support the decision making processes around customer product offerings and the service proposition, Technology Strategy Board KTP with Yorkshire Bank, £100,000 (ESRC KTP award best application of Social Science).
  2. Barbara Summers, Darren Duxbury, John Maule and Alan Pearman, (2008), Work in support of the Department of Work and Pensions auto-enrolment Project, funded by Department of Work and Pensions.
  3. Barbara Summers, Darren Duxbury, John Maule and Alan Pearman, (2009), Attitudes to Loss, CDR provided input in research into attitudes to loss being run by Opinion Leader (a prívate research agency) and the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority (PADA) [PADA has now been superceded by NEST].
  4. Barbara Summers, Darren Duxbury, John Maule and Alan Pearman, (2011-2012), Communicating Investment, CDR provided input in research into communications about investment being run by TNS-BMRB (a prívate research agency) and NEST.
  5. Barbara Summers, Darren Duxbury, John Maule and Alan Pearman, (2011-12), Communicating the NEST Proposition, CDR provided input to research into communicating the NEST proposition run by TNS-BMRB (a prívate research agency) and NEST.

The research team

Barbara Summers
Klaus Schenk-Hoppé
John Maule
Alan Pearman
Darren Duxbury
Kevin Keasey



The KTP on customer lifetime values gave Yorkshire Bank the ability to develop tactical and strategic solutions to target customers and improve customer retention. The KTP contributed to the bank’s aim of supporting customers. The CLV model was implemented by the Yorkshire Bank as a decision-making tool around customer product offerings and service propositions. The integration of the CLV model within Yorkshire Bank's existing marketing model capability impacted both the company's profitability and led to higher customer satisfaction.

CDR research has been used to help NEST/DWP devise a better strategy for communicating on workplace pensions by understanding how individuals conceptualise issues related to pension products. NEST provides workplace pensions but also acts as an expert information source for its members (pension investors) and employers. In this role, NEST relies heavily on evidence-based research to ensure the validity of advice it provides to these stakeholders. CDR contributed to a report published by NEST on “Understanding reactions to volatility and loss” was made freely available to stakeholders and other pension scheme operators via the NEST website. NEST launched an information campaign (2012/13) on the new workplace pensions and CDR research has helped to inform the design of this campaign.

Similar relationships have been developed in the private sector where collaborative research with Fidelity Worldwide Investment has increased the interest in behavioural psychology within the organisation and influenced decision making within the Defined Contribution and Workplace Pension business.