Helping You Find Your Inner Adult

Society of Grownups offers financial advice to those who need it most

When you’re under 40, buying a life insurance policy may seem about as practical as buying a Humvee.

That makes insurance a tough sell for a company like MassMutual, who partnered with IDEO over a two-year engagement to design a service that might impart the wisdom of thinking long-term to those who don’t.

Our research uncovered that you either have a smart-money mindset or you don’t. When it comes to being an adult about financial issues—chipping away debt, saving to buy a house—age doesn’t matter.

The traditional financial services model is broken, which is why we needed to make a bold move to disrupt the market.

— Gareth Ross, senior Vice President, MassMutual

So, instead of making a case for something people don’t want, MassMutual set out to make a difference. Together we created a sort of master’s program for adulthood, where the curriculum covers everything from investing in a 401K to having that hard talk about a budget to how to pick good, cheap wine. We called it Society of Grownups.

IDEO helped build the new venture from the ground up—designing a brand identity, a digital platform with some of the most sophisticated financial planning tools in the industry, and a hip brick-and-mortar locale. We thought everything through, right down to custom tables and pencils. And in the end, everything added up to a common vision. The new Society of Grownups staff is building on that vision, innovating every day.

The idea has already proven to be a runaway hit. One year after opening its doors, what started as a pilot experiment has grown into a $100 million growth strategy for MassMutual. The insurance company is planning to open 10 more physical spaces in the next three years, including New York and Philadelphia in 2016, adding a suite of digital tools, and partnering with universities and corporations to expand its reach.


Project date: 2014