Innovators: Betterment CEO Jon Stein

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Innovators. They come in many forms. They dream big but they aren’t just dreamers. They form raw ideas into cool products with disruptive business models. They shatter entire industries and leave established leviathans running scared with their tails between their legs. The Innovators interview series connects you with the most driven people on the planet. What makes them tick? What advice do they have for tech founders? What tools do they use to get the job done? Read on to find out. 

Jon Stein is reinventing the investing industry. After seeing product after product that made the investing process more complicated than it needed to be, he set out to create a broadly accessible investment company that would help investors achieve the best return (factoring in costs) for the least risk. Passionate about helping people make smart decisions with their money, he founded Betterment in 2008.

Previously, Jon spent his career developing financial products, platforms, and investment strategies for international banks, brokers and other financial institutions, and advising them on strategies to mitigate the risks inherent in their products. Most recently, Jon held the position of senior consultant at First Manhattan Consulting Group, where he counseled a number of the world’s most prominent financial institutions. Jon has in-depth knowledge of retail banking and investing and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).

Jon is a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Business School. His interests lie at the intersection of behavior, psychology, and economics.

What do you enjoy most about your work and why?

The most fulfilling thing about my day-to-day is knowing that I am improving people’s lives. We make financial services more customer-centric and help our customers make better financial decisions. Before founding Betterment, I was a consultant for big banks and saw that most of their goals were aligned with company profits rather than customer needs. In fact, many of their activities completely disregarded what was best for the customer.

I sought to change that, and with each product update, customer communication, and new service Betterment brings, I know we are doing right by the millions of people out there who are seeking better financial advice and service at a reasonable price.

In fact, the coolest thing about my work is talking to Betterment customers. If you call our customer service line, you just might get me on the other end. It’s from these conversations that I learn ...

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