Let's Humanize Finance is a podcast that brings to life the backgrounds and stories of the intrepid FinTech entrepreneurs who are changing the face of finance.
Let's Humanize Finance - Matt Cohen, Invest Forward
Keeping Up with Savings Instead of Keeping Up with the Kardashians: Building a Wealth Management Platform for Everyone.
Matt Cohen is the Founder and CEO of Invest Forward, an innovative and holistic wealth management solution that aims to help the everyday American manage their entire financial life in a simple, transparent, and low cost way. Matt has been very thoughtful about building out the Invest Forward platform and I’ve never seen him as excited about his work as he has been with Invest Forward. He’s built out a strong set of partnerships and has a good set of investors (including Transamerica Ventures). Matt has a strong background at the intersection of finance, technology, and making an impact. Matt has been a Partner at City Light Capital, a top impact investment VC firm that he helped build from the ground up. He also has finance and startup experience as a banker at Citi and Bear Stearns and was a founding member / VP of Business Development at Netfolio, an early 2000s fintech startup.
America has a savings problem. Spending has certainly been made easy, but savings, for a variety of reasons, has not. In Invest Forward, Matt has built a holistic wealth management solution that aims to improve people’s financial lives by improving access to information and advice on personal finance and enable people to take actionable steps in their financial lives that help them easily save and invest.
In this episode we cover:
* How 33% of Americans have $0 saved for retirement, how 63% of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover an emergency of $500, and how fintech platforms can help people change their behavior and better understand their financial health.
* How fintech platforms can help America’s consumption obsession and help people keep up with their savings and expenses rather than Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
* How little changes in people’s personal finance behavior, like automating savings, can make big changes in people’s financial health.
* How hockey and his high school hockey coach helped shape Matt’s view on building Invest Forward and building a team culture.
* How thinking about your financial life like your physical health can help you be responsible with your finances.
* How having a peer group who can talk finance is so important and how Marshawn Lynch, the star NFL running back, has been an expert saver and has imparted that wisdom on his NFL teammates.
* Biggest Mentor: Matt’s dad.
* What Keeps You Up At Night: How he can create a technology platform that democratizes access to financial services and impact a lot of people.
* Saying You Live By: “If you’re not falling down, you’re not trying hard enough.”
Let's Humanize Finance - Premal Shah, Kiva
From an early employee at PayPal to making philanthropy and giving back a personalized, addictive experience
Premal Shah is the Co-Founder and President of Kiva, the early pioneer in online lending through its non-profit crowdfunding platform that has lent to over 2.1 million borrowers with loan dollars in excess of $915 million. Premal co-founded Kiva in 2005, and has worked to promote Kiva's mission and reach more communities around the world for more than a decade. The results have been quite impressive - Kiva's repayment rate has been over 97% on loans disbursed across 82 countries worldwide. Kiva has also created tremendous impact on a group of people who have been subject to a poverty penalty because they are poor. Instead, Kiva's micro-loan platform has provided a hand up rather than a handout and has humanized finance by enabling lenders and borrowers to connect through personalization of the loan process. Premal has been recognized for his work with Kiva. He's been named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and to FORTUNE Magazine's "Top 40 under 40" list. Premal has a long history of creating innovative financial solutions that impact the world. Prior to Kiva, Premal worked for PayPal for 6 years as Principal Product Manager during the company's formative years. He is a graduate of Stanford University.
In this episode we cover:
* How Premal's transformational trip to India motivated him to try to fix the injustice of poverty in the world.
* How Premal's experience as an early product manager at PayPal helped shape the way he built Kiva as a marketplace built on the mechanism of trust and has enabled Kiva to successfully originate loans between strangers across geographic divides.
* Why Kiva is a non-profit, rather than a for-profit online lending platform, and how being a non-profit enables Kiva to be an "overperforming donation" rather than a below-market rate investment.
* How the power of feedback loops in building a product and experimentation were the biggest lessons that Premal has learned through building Kiva.
* How Premal and Kiva want to make philanthropy and giving back an addictive experience.
* How becoming a father has changed Premal's perspective on running a company and how he's shifted his leadership mindset from hustle to honing Kiva into something that creates enduring public good and intergenerational value.
* Biggest Mentor?: Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn and former PayPal colleague.
* What Keeps You Up At Night?: (1) figuring out how to optimize for stability rather than optimize for the new and (2) figuring out how to get the best talent to work on problems of financial inclusion.
* Saying You Live By?: "The point of life is to give back from a place of feeling full."