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Fintech Focus Rewind: Why This Fintech Executive Thinks Micro-Investing Gives Easier Access To The Markets

Fintech Focus Rewind: Why This Fintech Executive Thinks Micro-Investing Gives Easier Access To The Markets

The Fintech Focus Rewind is a recurring feature in which we revisit previous episodes of Benzinga's Fintech Focus Podcast. To get the Fintech Focus delivered to your inbox weekly, subscribe to the Fintech Focus newsletter. Don’t forget to check out upcoming programming at Benzinga events.

‘Make big decisions small’.

This is how Manning Field thinks companies should be helping their customers when making investing decisions.

Field is the COO of Acorns, an investing app which rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar and invests that spare change into ETFs or assets of the user’s choice. The company hopes to make investing less intimidating for young people and those with small account sizes by allowing users to invest small amounts of money compared to traditional investing.

Investors in the company include companies like Blackrock (NASDAQ: BLK), PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL), Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA)and Comcast-owned NBCUniversal as well as NBA star Kevin Durant and actor Ashton Kutcher.

Recently, Acorns collaborated with Survey Monkey on surveys regarding savings and investing habits. One study conducted last month found men spend more in impulse purchases than women.

‘Give Access’

Acorns’ business strategy is to make investing easier for people who typically would not get started until later in life, according to Field.

“What we've tried to do at Acorns, is to give access to that kind of population through technology, through design and through education and get them started, whereas, in the past they wouldn't necessarily start till much later in their life,” Field said. “And then in some cases, when you think about building long term wealth, those ended up being kind of fairly significant mistakes for people when they actually finally figure out they want to start investing.”

Since its inception in 2014, the company has introduced services to a retirement account, known as Acorns Later, and a debit card which automatically saves and invests for customers.

Field said he has noticed investors coming together due to things like stock price instead of the overall mission for investors to build wealth over time. He thinks Acorns’ focus on serving its customers best financial needs is what has helped the company grow and innovate.

“Oftentimes in companies what brings people together is the stock price or valuation or some of these other things that are a little bit more rational, but don't really speak to mission purpose,” Field said. “I think the way in which the mission has been embedded into our culture is how we will continue to benefit from that over the long term because we're not going to veer from it.”

A focus on the customer has also contributed to finding Acorns’ current partners like BlackRock (NASDAQ: BLK), Field said. BlackRock ETFs are now incorporated into Acorns’ portfolios.

Transitioning From Corporate To Startup Culture

Working at JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) before transitioning to Acorns, Field felt unsure of what to expect from a startup space. But it was the drive of Acorns employees and adherence to the company mission that made Field fall in love with the company from the first day.

“The level of commitment and how earnest people are about trying to do the right thing, I'm just kind of completely blown away by that here,” Field said. “Even from my first day, I was just really, really impressed with the team. I think that's a combination of having a purpose and a mission and then being really, really thoughtful about recruiting and hiring.”

A bias towards overall branding rather than finance or technology also helps set the company apart from competitors, Field said.

“Though we are a fintech company, we don't really have a strong bias towards fin or tech,” Field said. “We're much more of a brand company that uses fin and tech and so we think that that sets us apart and you'll continue to see us be set apart in that way.”

Listen to the full podcast episode below.



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