Kernel Wealth

Improving the financial habits of everyday New Zealanders

UI & UX Design
Product Strategy

About Kernel

Kernel was born out of frustration with the inefficiencies, lack of innovation, and low financial literacy holding back the New Zealand financial industry and, ultimately, Kiwi's financial futures.

The project

At Kernel, we believe in the importance of solid habits and clear financial goals. To address our lack of insights into our users’ investment choices and financial habits, we launched the Goals Project. In this project, our goal was to understand our users' financial objectives and how they pursue them.

My contribution

I joined as the sole Product Designer for this project. I worked closely with the product team to deliver an MVP that could capture our users financial goals. This served as a stepping stone for our company to begin offering financial advice. I conducted user research, led design workshops, and created the final user experience and interface for the developers.


As at 3 Sept, 2023


Total goals created


Accounts with a goal


Goals with a target amount


Goals with a target date

Design challenge

“How might we track the financial habits and goals of our users?”




Synthesising user research

The Product Manager and I conducted two customer calls per week to better understand users' financial habits, goals, and needs better. Most users aspired to achieve "Retirement," "Financial Freedom," or "Financial Independence," albeit through various ways. While users understood the end goals, many struggled with the calculations needed to attain them.

“It would be good to know that you're on track to reach your goals by a certain timeframe...”

“My goal is to get to like at least 15ish to 20K this year. At the moment we're just doing a hundred a fortnight.”

The Overseas market

Companies in the US and Canada have a rich history in the ‘digital advice’ space. In 2008, there was the rise of ‘robo advice’ with companies like WealthFront. Over time, these were seen as shallow or overly simplistic. The fundamental issue remains that everyone's financial journey is different. Your ethics, timelines, and goals impact the advice you should receive. Given this complexity, we decided that offering financial advice alongside this tool would be too difficult.



The system

Tech challenges

At Kernel, we don't directly handle users' money. It is held by a government-regulated custodian. Our role is to relay user instructions to the custodian, which means we have limited control and insight into users' assets. There are also tech complexities with index funds. For instance, it may seem straightforward to evenly distribute a user’s investments between two goals. However, these investments don’t involve actual currency and users instead own units acquired at varying prices that constantly fluctuate in value. This complexity makes it challenging to distribute their investments across different goals.

Tracking assets

I explored tracking units, valuations, and manual user allocations, but none of these approaches proved viable. I then experimented with tracking assets by the financial product itself, which proved to be more successful. It eliminated confusion about value fluctuation and was feasible for our Tech team. It enabled users to allocate their Save accounts, KiwiSaver, or individual funds to specific goals. If implemented, it would provide the business with insights into users' intent behind their financial products.

Restructuring onboarding

While KiwiSaver and Save require fewer security checks than investing, our tech capacity could not separate onboarding flows based on product choice. So, I made AML verification mandatory before accessing any product, simplifying tech interactions and encouraging users to complete verification before use. There was no benefit to entering before AML had been completed since everything in the product was hidden or disabled before you completed it.

Creating a goal flow

"Goals" is a familiar term, but it can carry various interpretations. Through my research, I discovered that each user tended to describe their goals uniquely. If every user used a different name for their goal, it could pose challenges for our Product team in tracking them. To simplify this, I introduced goal categories, derived from the goal groups identified during user research. This not only streamlined the user experience, but also reduced the cognitive load, as being asked "What's your goal" without any prompts could be quite overwhelming.

Setting a target (amount and date)

Financial goals aren’t one-size-fits-all. A common financial framework is 'Now, Soon, Later,' referring to short, mid, and long-term goals. Short-term goals often have a specific amount and target date, such as saving for a car. Whereas, long-term goals may lack a clear target or due date due to their distance in the future. I designed the flow to make target amounts and dates customisable, allowing flexibility for how our users set their goals.



The solution

Drawer design

I organised the goals within a drawer component to match the pattern of our Invest, Save and KiwiSaver products. This provides consistency for mobile users (55% of our users) and offers an easy click-through experience for desktop users. Within the drawer, you can edit your goal, target, and the assets assigned to it.

Customising your goals

I designed a set of icons to add visual identity to the goal types, helping distinguish goals from one another and infusing character and personality into them.

An overview of your goals

I decided that our Overview page was the best location for our goals since it can feature any of our product offerings. The way goals appear on the page varies depending on how you've configured them. They can show a progress bar if you have a target amount, and can also display a date if you have a target date set.




Key metrics

As at Sept 3, 2023


Total goals created


Accounts with a goal


Goals with a target date


Goals with a target amount


1 goal added


2 goals added


3-6 goals added

Goals split

As at Sept 3, 2023


General investing












Financial freedom






Where we succeeded

I was proud of the final flows we developed for this project. After reviewing users’ journeys in Fullstory, there seemed to be minimal friction. Users could create goals with ease. I believe we successfully made an MVP step toward tracking our users' intent on our platform. We collected valuable data about a group of our users, which can be used to inform future iterations.

Where we could improve

I observed that adoption of the tool was low. The project primarily focused on data collection from our users, which offered limited immediate value. For the next version, we could consider supporting people in setting financial goals. When I talked to users, it became clear that many of them didn’t really understand how to use index funds. They want financial independence but need some help with the calculations.

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