Delivering agile insight: IFF’s approach to fast and flexible Financial Services research

Increasingly, our financial services clients stress the need for their research partners to be able to deliver deep insight in an agile manner, needing to obtain feedback in both a quick and flexible way. To meet this need IFF has developed a best practice approach to agile design and delivery of insight programmes.

There are a wealth of research methodologies available that allow us to work in the iterative and rapid manner required by product and service development teams. These range from utilising research communities such as our Fintech Beacon, or fast turn-around qualitative user-testing and overnight quantitative research. These methodologies are increasingly popular for digital service development work, and we have designed agile insight programmes for pensions companies, loans companies and Government departments.

However, no matter what methodologies are used to provide deep insight in an agile manner, there are a number of fundamentals that remain constant in our approach.

Putting customers first

Fundamental to any agile insight programme of iterative development, is to appreciate that financial services business can no longer afford to work in internal ‘silos’, but instead must put the customer at the centre of what they do across all teams. By ensuring that the customer is at the heart of the research design, we can ensure findings will bring the customer to life across the business and in a meaningful way for all departments.

Speed and iterative delivery

We can deliver insight in hours and days, not months. Our research teams provide ongoing support and feedback throughout the project. Through ongoing analysis and with highly experienced staff, we ensure the lines of questioning can be adapted and adjusted as research progresses. Each aspect of the research builds on the ‘lessons learned’ to continuously improve and refine insights.


It is the nature of an agile programme that there will be changes and adjustments to research materials and approaches. We break things down to allow faster insight delivery, and by separating out sub-objectives we can adjust the research process to match client needs. There must be an ongoing dialogue and discussion of fieldwork findings and emerging insights to enable research methods to be altered and refocused if necessary.

Deep understanding of our client’s business and stakeholders

Ultimately, to develop a product or service successfully our clients require an agency that works in partnership and close collaboration with their teams, going beyond the traditional client/supplier relationship. We work as an extension of a client’s internal team, being available to join key meetings and discussion to ensure we can respond quickly and effectively to requests. This is not a once-a-week telephone call update, but rather a dedicated research team focussed on a research ‘sprint’ to your specific insight needs.

Opportunities for stakeholders to hear directly from customers’

Our viewing facility in our central London offices provides an ideal resource for agile working, as well as bringing the potential to reserve at short notice (our facility is currently only available for IFF Research projects and not marketed externally). We can recruit participants to attend depth interviews, user testing activities and focus groups, while client research teams and stakeholders can hear feedback and opinions first hand – this is a major advantage when working quickly and in an iterative process.

We do not believe there is a “one size fits all” approach to agile development. When developing the client relationship, transparent and open discussions over the how our client expects the relationship to work are critical.

Ultimately, we offer clients a flexible, pragmatic partnership – tailored to meet their vision of how the relationship should work.