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Goal-based investing - Interactive graph

As any financial advisor knows, understanding the motivation behind a client’s investment goals is important for several reasons. It enables us to empathise with the investor and correctly frame messages in financial reporting (are we talking about leaving an inheritance to the children or buying that getaway villa on Mallorca?). Activating the higher-order motivation in the UX of an investment tool also energises goal-directed behaviour, resulting in a higher chance of goal achievement.

In our white paper ‘The investor’s Rubicon’ we propose a framework to structure the diversity of investment goals: Schwartz’s universal psychological structure of human values. Our first reason for choosing this particular framework is that it is truly comprehensive. It not only embodies virtually all previously described motivational structures (by Keynes, Mondigliani and Brumberg, Browning and Lussardi, Canova et al, etc.), but it also includes a motivation - called ‘Universalism’ - which is painfully lacking in most models to date. It is a value that emerges with the realisation that, in order to survive as a group, we must treat others justly and protect the natural environment and the resources on which life depends. The second reason is that we think Schwartz articulates the human motivations that drive investment goals eloquently and at an equally abstract level.

The framework features 19 investment goals, structured around 9 basic human values or motivations that are in turn organised along two bipolar dimensions. The first dimension opposes values that emphasise independence of thought and readiness for change with values that emphasise conformity and preservation. The second dimension contrasts self-enhancement (more egocentric) and self-transcendence (more altruistic) values.

The circular shape of the framework indicates that we are looking at a motivational continuum where goals ‘spill over’ from one to the next. Decisions about exact boundaries are arbitrary because neighbouring goals oftentimes share traits.

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, we created this interactive graph where you can see for yourself which investment goals and motivations are prioritised by different subsets of retail investors.


In our series of papers entitled ‘The Investor’s Rubicon’ we focus on the experience of goal setting and goal pursuit. Part 1 is all about setting investment goals: The investor's Rubicon - Setting investment goals