StashInvest is a quickly growing popular consumer app helping individuals get serious about saving and investing again. But working directly with consumers — impacting their lives through investing — is a new transition for the firm’s co-founder and CEO, Brandon Krieg. Krieg began his financial career in algorithmic trading, aiming to disrupt the way institutions traded equities and when you hear him talk about Stash’s customers, the excitement is palpable.
On StashInvest’s path to a million accounts, Krieg has had to scale everything, especially customer service. On this week’s podcast, Brieg discussed that, his approach to product development and how his team determines what products and functionality to launch.
What has your experience been leaving the large financial world to build something?
“What I realized with larger financial companies is that they do crave and value innovation, but it’s much harder for them to move fast. Especially at the bigger bank I worked at next in my career, it was a great place to work at but there were 15,000 people there.
I love the transition to consumers. It’s my favorite thing I’ve done yet in my career. We’re able to directly impact the lives of our customers. Our customers have a problem that we’re able to solve. By doing it in the form of a nimble startup, we can move much faster.”
Did you have any challenges transitioning to customer service requirements of retail investors?
“My co-founder Eddie [Robinson] and I both left Macquarie in the beginning of 2015. We launched Stash in the beginning of October that same year. We felt really good about the product we were shipping to the market because we spent a lot of time listening to customers. We didn’t build this in a vacuum and create a product that nobody wanted. However, when we launched, we weren’t able to form the view of how many customers we’d actually sign up.
It’s been less than two years now and we’re coming up on 1 million accounts. So, we’ve had to scale a lot faster than we originally thought. Our goal here is to keep our customers happy. Our customers are our heroes. We see ourselves just as a guide. So, we really had to scale customer service (brokerage, engineering, and compliance, too).”
Why don’t people invest today?
“Around 86 percent of our customers are first time investors. Our customers look like America — everyone you interact with everyday. They’re teachers, in the military, and Uber drivers. Financial education is a big problem. People aren’t learning this stuff at school or at home. The financial services industry only caters to the rich.
Our customers really face the issue of financial opportunity. It’s not scary and you can understand investing if you have companies building products that relate to you. We’ve dropped the barrier to entry to $5 and we’ve made it relatable because we’ve curated the investments, so you’re not overwhelmed by choices. Lastly, we help our customers on a long term journey of investing for life with our educational tools.”