Podcasts

Aspiration’s Andrei Cherny: ‘We treat our customers as whole people, not just dollars and cents’

  • A lot of upstarts talk about building socially conscious financial institutions.
  • Andrei Cherny, Aspiration's founder and CEO, joins us to talk about his firm's innovative revenue model.
close

Email a Friend

Tearsheet’s one-day “Hot Topic: Mobile Payments” event is coming up in NYC on Nov. 30 and we’re opening up a few complimentary spots to executives from banks and other financial institutions to attend. Interested? Apply here.

There’s a lot of talk today about the financial industry becoming friendlier, more approachable and more socially conscious. Most of that has been just talk but there are a growing number of fintech firms working hard to make it happen. One of those firms is Aspiration, which was created with millennials and Generation Z in mind.

Aspirations’ Andrei Cherney has created a new type of financial institution, one with 85,000 customers who pay what they think is fair. That’s right, there’s no fee for banking or asset management. Whatever customers do decide to pay Aspiration — and 90 percent of them decide to pay some form of percentage of assets under management — 10 percent of that goes to charity.

Cherney joins us this week on the Tearsheet Podcast to talk how he sees financial services firms have let us down and what today’s customers are really looking for from a bank or asset manager. We’ll discuss Aspiration’s recently launched Impact Measurement, which scores customers’ purchases on how a company treats people and how it treats the planet.

SubscribeiTunes I SoundCloud

Below are highlights, edited for clarity, from the episode.

What does it mean when you talk about “doing well and doing good”?
It means a whole host of things. It’s about our customers and how we can help them both provide better financial outcomes in their lives, but also help make a positive difference in the world. So many of our customers come in with this profound sense of distrust of the financial industry — and in some cases, a very well earned sense of distrust.

We really think about a different business model and how we can provide an experience to our customer that sees him or her as a whole person, not just dollars and cents. So if you look at our core product, the Aspiration core bank account. It’s a hybrid checking/savings account.

On the do well side, it pays up to one percent interest, with no monthly fees or ATM fees and only a $10 minimum deposit to open the account. It also enables our customers to do good, too. A lot of our customers come to us because this account doesn’t turn around and take your deposits and put them into the Dakota Pipeline or something like that. That makes a big difference for people.

Who are your target customers?
We’re really seeing a broad cross-section of people. They’re younger: 60 percent of our customers are under 35 years old. They’re a broad cross-section economically, too. From underserved communities to the well-off, we also see a pretty even split between genders. This is a generation of people coming up that wants to exercise its purchasing power. We see our Aspiration Impact Measurement as a way of empowering them.

How does your revenue model of “Pay What is Fair” work?
There’s no compulsory fee. Our customers pay us what they think is fair for our services. When we first launched almost three years ago, it was a leap of faith that our customers would decide to pay us. When we started, we thought that we were asking our customers to put their money with an untested, online financial company. If we were asking for trust, we thought we should start by placing our trust in our customers. This trust deficit is the biggest problem facing the financial industry overall. Only 8 percent of Americans trust their financial institutions.

What is the Aspiration Impact Measurement?
This allows our customers to see their own sustainability score. With each purchase they make, they’re able to see the impact the businesses they’re shopping at are having on people and the planet. It helps them to make better decisions, taking their daily spending dollars and put them behind companies that are doing what’s right. Listen, Americans spend $36 billion a day shopping. We can wring our hands about what gets decided in Washington about the environment. It’s the $36 billion/day that is an even stronger lever than the government — it’s what companies respond to.

0 comments on “Aspiration’s Andrei Cherny: ‘We treat our customers as whole people, not just dollars and cents’”

Where Credit's Due Podcast

Where Credit’s Due Ep. 10: Getting capital without dilution or debt through recurring revenue financing, with Pipe and Anthemis

  • Today we're talking about another way of accessing capital: recurring revenue financing. If there's cash flow coming in, this recurring revenue is made into a tradable asset that can be sold to investors.
  • It's a dilution-free and debt-free form of financing, which we explore in detail with Michal Cieplinski, Chief Business Officer at Pipe, and Farhan Lalji, Investor at Anthemis.
Iulia Ciutina | September 28, 2022
Podcasts

Behind Amex’s use of Kabbage as ‘the heartbeat’ of its strategy to help SMBs with cash flow

  • Two years after American Express bought small business lender Kabbage, the products are integrated and growing.
  • Tearsheet sat down with Kabbage's head of marketing to get insight on where the growth is coming from and where the company is headed.
Zachary Miller | September 27, 2022
Payments, Power of Payments Podcast

Power of Payments Ep. 14: JPMorgan vs Stripe and Block, CFPB is coming for BNPL, and is LTO a viable BNPL alternative?

  • This week, we talk about JPMorgan’s acquisition of payments firms Renovite, and the CFPB’s recent report on BNPL firms, which suggests that regulation is coming for the sector.
  • We also discuss why lease-to-own, which is another type of installment payment option, has been gaining popularity in recent months.
Ismail Umar | September 23, 2022
Data, Podcasts, Sponsored

‘Earned wage access is the next evolution in improving day-to-day liquidity’: Argyle’s Matthew Gomes

  • Director of strategy at Argyle, Matt Gomes, joins us on the Tearsheet Podcast.
  • Listen in to our conversation about how payroll and employment data API platforms enable financial institutions to bring the next generation of financial products to consumers.
Argyle | September 22, 2022
Data, Podcasts, Sponsored

‘Developers have become as central a figure as the banks’: Fiserv’s Niranjan Ramaswamy

  • VP and GM of embedded fintech at Fiserv, Niranjan Ramaswamy, joins us on the Tearsheet Podcast.
  • Listen to our conversation about how Fiserv empowers developers to build products that bring fintechs and FIs together.
Fiserv | September 21, 2022
More Articles