The nation’s biggest generation– yes, it’s millennials again — wasn’t big enough.
Hedgeable isn’t the only startup looking beyond millennials and consumers in general to pitch its wares. In the past decade, many fintechs in wealth management began with the individual. Think Betterment or Riskalyze. Big money raisers like Betterment ($100 million in March) and SigFig ($40 million, also in May) are now pitching through institutional channels. Riskalyze, which helps pinpoint investor risk tolerance, pivoted a few years back to focus on the advisor community.
Individual consumers can seemed like a natural starting point, especially back in 2007-2008, when the rivets in the financial system were bursting apart. As one startup veteran commented to me, many fintech founders feel most comfortable with retail — they understand their pain points. But consumers are a huge market, difficult to lasso. Many founders are looking to partner with larger financial institutions that already have an astonishing number of customers. Or they are tapping the small business owners, who, according to a recent Experian study, have more money, better credit, and are older (hello, Baby Boomers).
Bank Innovation spoke to Michael Kane, co-founder and CEO of Hedgeable. which has raised $1.85 million since its 2009 launch, to discuss the company’s pivot:
BI: How do you compare this business opportunity to the one for millennials?
MK: There are 30 million sole proprietors, LLCs, and S Corps in the U.S. The average revenue for a sole proprietor is $56,000. Do they even know they can stash away a large percentage of that tax-free for their retirement? There is a terrible lack of education in the small business community about the opportunities to save. We believe there is huge overlap between small business owners and millennials. For example, a majority of our clients are millennials and a very nice percentage of them are small business owners or entrepreneurs. Young people are more entrepreneurial than their parents, setting up businesses on average 8 years earlier (age 27) and in the “sharing economy” of Uber and Airbnb, it is very easy to become your own boss.
How do your fees compare to other small business retirement plans?
Our fees range from 0.30% to 0.75%, all in. Traditionally, a small business cannot access a private banking platform without $1 million in their bank account, while our minimum is just $1. Even at $1 million, most surveys have found the average retirement plan fee for a small business to be up to 1.5% [of fees]. Hedgeable saves the average small business over 50% on fees, plus the time and hassle that is involved in setting up these plans and making the investment decisions. Our platform uses advanced AI and data science to automate the investment process for small businesses.
Do you get involved with tax filings?
Yes. We provide all tax documents that the small business will need on our platform and our platform integrates with TurboTax. For companies with less than $250,000 to invest, there typically are no extra forms required by the IRS. Small businesses assume investing some of their revenue towards retirement will be more trouble than its worth, but it’s actually the opposite; there have been great strides made in the last decade to get employees of small companies saving.