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April, 2019 Volume 26

Technology Turns Round and Round

We love the way that the new tech becomes the old tech at regular turns.  It makes one wonder if its not just a plan for economic rejuvenation for tech companies.  Don’t get us wrong, we are in the business of replacing old tech with new so it works for Vestigo’s portfolio companies.

Of course the reason for this roundabout is that new ways of doing business can offer new opportunities to compete.  Yesterday’s consumer experience is tomorrow’s decrepit interaction needing to be upgraded to the best user experience and interface. Yesterday’s acceptable business process is today’s costly, error prone, human-lead process needing to be automated out of existence. Every week we hear this from financial services incumbents looking for ways to innovate and improve.  Thank goodness they are asking and their customer is demanding it.  Every week we meet entrepreneurs with smart new ways to replace old tech with new.  These founders are finding ways to build businesses making this happen. We applaud the leaders in our portfolio companies for their hard work and constant testing to find the right business proposition and build their businesses.  We are thrilled to be on this tech roundabout with you. —Mark & Dave
Vestigo Ventures Envisions Newsletter - Lindsay Holden, Long Game CEO Interview

Envisions Interview with Lindsay Holden

This month, Long Game Savings CEO Lindsay Holden sits down with us to talk about how her company is shaping the future of saving and financial engagement.

What is a Bank?

I find myself asking this question regularly in my role as an investor and as a bank director.  Any business should ask what is its reason for being.  It ensures regular review of its strategy and its competitive edge.  In the case of financial services, it is critical given the speed of change in the environment.

Historically, banks were about place.  The local bank (even if it is a big regional bank) occupied mind share in its market because it advertised and opened its branches to customers and prospects.  The act of walking into a branch let the brand come to life for customers. This is true for consumers and businesses alike.  Picking your “footprint” as the bankers like to say focused your resources and impact. Secondly banks need deposit growth to feed the balance sheet to allow them to lend money and make a spread.  On the consumer side they have focused on new accounts coming from consumers who are much younger than those consumers looking for a wealth manager or a doctor.  So banks have experiences with younger cohorts of consumers well before other industries might make first contact. My belief is that we have in a short time experienced a significant shift from the younger cohorts.  They have in less than two years according to a study by Bain Consulting stopped coming into the branch.  They have identified less with place and more with experience.  Who is easiest to work with?  Who charges me less in fees?  Who has my best interest at heart? If this is the new way forward, it will require a new definition of banking.  Robin Hood is a bank by this definition.  Marcus is a new form of bank fitting this model more so than other traditional branch laden banks.  Focusing on customer experience may be the key to getting the attention and business of consumers. Worrying about NPS (net promoter scores) should drive any financial institution more so than worrying about NIM (net interest margin) perhaps. We have invested in two startups – Long Game and Cushion who we think embody this new way of thinking about customer experience.  Enjoy the interview with Lindsey Holden who is the founder and CEO of Long Game.  See what you think about their way of gaining trust and delighting consumers. Cushion gains trust by rebating checking fees.  Over $200B per year is charged by the banking industry to consumers. Imagine a firm who helps you get some of this back.  It would be easy to trust them when they offer you a new service.  What a great customer experience that should build a new version of a bank or financial partner. I welcome your answer to my question above to help shape my thinking.  Send me your thoughts at mcasady@vestigoventures.com. —Mark Casady, General Partner

Portfolio Updates

Distribution Win for Vault

Prudential, financial services and insurance company said last week it has updated its offerings for more than 3,000 employer clients to allow workers to better manage student loan debt, develop a financial plan and get access to coaching services. The tool their clients will be using to manage student loan debt? Vault!

Play On!

In March, Long Game launched “Savings Jars.” The new feature enables a customized, data enhanced user experience. Early days show that most users are saving for vacations, new homes and bills. In addition to personalization, Jars are already increasing savings rates. Vestigo hopes you’re enjoying the app as much as we are!

Will Vestmark Repeat?

We are delighted to learn that Vestmark has been nominated for the fourth year in a row for the “Best Places to Work” Award by the Boston Business Journal. The company took 1st place last year, and we are very proud to put our capital to work with a firm that delivers both excellent technology and treats its employees the way they deserve.

Interesting News

FinTech Market Overview

While we have never been more excited about how our portfolio companies will shape the future of financial services, its amazing to reflect on the degree to which consumers are already benefiting from improvements in financial technology.

Combating Biased AI

Only a few years ago, policymakers had little inclination to regulate AI. Now, as the consequences of not doing so grow increasingly tangible, a small contingent in Congress is advancing a broader strategy to rein the technology in.

The Power of FinTech

We are excited to come the office everyday (most days) not only because of the investment opportunities in financial technology, but because the FinTech revolution is already bringing about necessary changes in both access and fairness to our economy.

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