At Betterment, we talk a lot about podcasts. (No, really—we have a Slack channel called #podcasts.)
We like Planet Money, This American Life, Reply All, Startup, Marketplace, How I Built This. We love Freakonomics so much that we once hosted a webcast with Stephen Dubner. We sponsor podcasts because we know that our customers, and those who are yet to be, are into them, too.
Certain stories, when told audibly, are brought to life in a way that other mediums aren’t capable of emulating.
I’ve been thinking recently about what draws us to podcasts—what makes them unique. For me, it’s not always the content itself; yes, it’s interesting, but I’m not necessarily learning something new every time. Instead, it’s the way the story is being told that keeps me nodding my head when I’m listening.
There are all different ways to tell stories. Some are better in written form, some in video. But we now live in a world where some are best told through audio—on our way to work, when we’re at work, while we’re washing the dishes. Certain stories, when told audibly, are brought to life in a way that other mediums aren’t capable of emulating.
“Better Off”: The Money Podcast That Cuts Through the Jargon
We’re excited to announce that we’ve teamed up with DGital Media to launch “Better Off,” a podcast hosted by Jill Schlesinger, CFP® (listen to a preview and subscribe here). Available every Thursday, “Better Off” will tackle sometimes uncomfortable—and even controversial—money and investing issues, without the financial jargon, to get to the heart of what’s important for people who are always looking to optimize their money to know.
What to Expect with “Better Off,” and Why
At Betterment, we have so many stories to tell, many of which are controversial, about issues that are flipping the financial services industry on its head. We’ll talk about the many so-called “financial advisors” who have been taking advantage of their clients for three decades, the shockingly high number of people who haven’t had access to legitimate financial advice, and the poor design choices that have left many worse off than having no financial information at all.
We are presenting this podcast because we have to talk about these issues, but in a way that’s compelling and engaging, using a medium that our customers know and love. The “Better Off” podcast will tackle topics with expert commentary, not only from Betterment’s own experts but from renowned financial gurus and bestselling authors who are aligned with Betterment’s mission: to empower people to do what’s best with their money, so they can live better.
We’ll talk about the many so-called “financial advisors” who have been taking advantage of their clients for three decades, the shockingly high number of people who haven’t had access to legitimate financial advice, and the poor design choices that have left many worse off than having no financial information at all.
We couldn’t think of a better person to partner with on this than Jill. She’s an Emmy-nominated business analyst for CBS News and the host of her nationally syndicated radio show, “Jill on Money.” But even more importantly, Jill gets Betterment. She’s been advising people on their money for decades, and now there’s a service that does many of the things she’s been recommending all along: investing for the long term, regular rebalancing, constantly optimizing for taxes, keeping fees low.
Jill also understands our customers and the people who would benefit most from Betterment. She’s intelligent. She never talks down. But she assumes a level of sophistication. There are many financial bloggers who give good advice to entry-level investors—advice that is incredibly important and shouldn’t be overlooked. That’s not what this podcast is about. This is the podcast for people who already have a level of comfort and mastery of their money—they just want to manage it better, and be sure they’re making the right decisions. They want to push the boundaries. They want to confirm that what they know is true, and discover new ways to optimize their money.
I sat down with Jill to get to know her better, and to understand why partnering with Betterment is something that just makes sense. Here’s our Q&A.
Listen to a preview and subscribe to “Better Off” here.
Meet Jill Schlesinger, Emmy-Nominated Business Analyst and Host of “Better Off”
Jon Stein: Tell me about your relationship with money. What inspired you to take interest in personal finance?
Jill Schlesinger: My father was an options trader on the American Stock Exchange, which meant that money was discussed quite a bit in our house and, therefore, was completely demystified for us. I followed his footsteps and became an options trader on the Commodity Exchange, Inc. but ultimately found that trading was a bit of an empty experience for me. I stumbled on the world of financial planning and was enamored with the idea of interacting with real people—listening to them and then providing solutions to their problems. While I liked the problem solving and risk assessment disciplines that I had learned as a trader, the idea of using them in connection with helping real people made it all feel right. As soon as I connected the dots, I enrolled in the Certified Financial Planning program in order to earn the CFP designation.
Jon: You’ve had me as a guest on your own personal radio show before. Why did now seem like the right time to partner with Betterment on a brand new podcast?
Jill: You were on the show just over a year ago and when we were done, I remember thinking that it may have taken two decades, but I finally found a company that was totally aligned with the way I think about investing and personal finance. Within 15 minutes of completing the interview, I called you to discuss how we could create something together. To your credit, your first reaction was, “I love it—let’s figure this out!”
“I remember thinking that it may have taken two decades, but I finally found a company that was totally aligned with the way I think about investing and personal finance.” -Jill Schlesinger, Host of “Better Off”
Jon: There are a lot of podcasts about money out there. What’s unique or special about this one?
Jill: The curious circumstances of my career have provided me with a unique view: I am trader, turned investment advisor/financial planner, turned journalist, so in many ways, I am an insider who has crossed over and can parse through the jargon to help our listeners navigate their financial journeys. I am also a huge believer in the idea that whether you’re a seasoned long-term investor or someone just starting the journey of managing the complex issues that can arise in your life, money can be emotional. I recognize that fact, which helps me get to the root of complicated problems in a more humane, less antiseptic way.
Jon: Usually you’re the one asking the questions, like, “What’s the best money decision you’ve ever made?” Now it’s my turn – what’s the best money decision you’ve ever made?
Jill: To leave a potentially more lucrative career in investment management, to pursue a passion of communicating complex ideas to everyone. Thankfully, I had saved enough money to take that leap into a second career that is exciting, creative, and allows me to learn something new every day.
Jon: What are you most excited to cover over the course of the series?
Jill: I can get excited by a great guest, an intriguing listener question, or by news stories that impact all of us in different ways. I am looking forward to hearing feedback from listeners and to take the show in whatever direction excites them.
Jon: Who is your dream guest?
Jill: Hands down: Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen…she is a fellow alumna of Brown, as is Betterment’s President and Co-Founder, Eli Broverman, so maybe if we play that angle, she’ll agree to come on the show!
Jon: Why is this podcast important—why does it matter?
Jill: There are very wonky podcasts about money, there are interesting storytelling money podcasts out there, there are those aimed at the ultra high net worth people, and others that help out those who are in debt. “Better Off” occupies a unique space: a money podcast aimed at demystifying financial topics for those who are already on track and want to become “Better Off” in lots of different ways—in their financial lives, in their careers and, most importantly, as well-rounded human beings.
The opinions stated on the Better Off podcast are those of the host, Jill Schlesinger, and her guests, and not those of Betterment or its employees. Listen to a preview and subscribe to “Better Off” here.
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