Portraits of Excellence: Finance
THE INNOVATOR : Jon Stein : Founder and CEO, Betterment
In 10 years, maybe five, the financial services industry is going to look very different, and one of the biggest changes will be the enormous impact of robo advisors, online wealth management firms that offer investors greater transparency and lower fees than wirehouses in exchange for less personalized service. There are several promising firms, but the one that has probably gained the most traction is Betterment, which is led by Harvard and Columbia Business School grad Jon Stein. For investors with $100,000, Betterment charges annual fees of only 0.15 percent, along with underlying index fund fees—far less than the 1 percent or more, plus expenses, that wirehouses typically charge. In mid-2015, Betterment announced that it had more than 100,000 customers and $2.5 billion under management. And it’s already changing the industry, as much larger firms like Charles Schwab and BlackRock have scrambled to introduce competing low-cost products. It’s a new era in financial services, and Jon Stein is one of its leaders.