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avatar for Neesha Mathur

Neesha Mathur

Prudential Financial
Head of Behavioral Science
Neesha Mathur is the Head of Behavioral Science at Prudential Financial and frequently mentors recent graduates starting their careers in behavioral science and colleagues who are standing up behavioral science practices at their own firms. Neesha has spent most of her career in financial services rising through product management and marketing roles – with a brief stint after graduate school at the World Health Organization training health ministers about the neuroscience of risk. In 2018, when Prudential realized the need for building a behavioral science capability, they tapped Neesha to build the capability and organization.

Learn a little more about Neesha:

What do you enjoy about the work you are doing in finance?
 
I enjoy connecting to the purpose of bringing financial wellness to more people – helping people build and maintain financial behaviors that reduce stress, enable personal growth, and lead to more stable families and communities.
 
What gets you most fired up in terms of a technology, tool, trend, or advancement?
 
The dawning realization that people are not making rational decisions about how they spend and save has kickstarted a host of new startups and initiatives focused on harnessing the ways really interact with money to help them save more, spend more wisely, and be more planful. The ways we are now using technology to aid people  -through nudges, defaults, gamification, increased access to their money etc. – to meet their goals has me excited about really making financial wellness a reality in peoples’ lives. 
 
What do you think the future of financial experience will hold?
 
Our financial experiences will increasingly be cashless, on-demand, and seamless – enabled by artificial intelligence and machine learning and helps reduce risk and increase access. Of course, ‘always on’ access to money – and the ability to move it around without thinking too much about it may create it’s own problems. It’s going to be an amazing ride.
 
What is the biggest obstacle you face in building a culture of design and innovation or putting a focus on wellbeing? How might the industry solve it?
 
The biggest obstacle is getting colleagues and leaders to recognize that what people say and what they do are very different things. We have all learned to do research and we immediately ask consumers what they want and what they will do in a given scenario – turns out, none of us are good at predicting that. And yet, we build our cultures, products, and experiences based on that consumer feedback. I’m not saying it’s not worth doing at all, but science has taught us that people very often have no idea what they will do in a given scenario – we have to think differently about research and how that feeds our processes and plans.
 
What would you tell your younger self?
 
Study (a little) less, party (a little) more – don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Be bold.