Kinsey Grant: Hey everyone and welcome to another episode of Business Casual by Morning Brew, the podcast where we break down the biggest themes in business but more importantly, why they matter to you. I’m your host and Brew Business Editor Kinsey Grant.
Kinsey Grant: Let’s get into it. So according to some estimates, about one trillion dollars in financial assets, one trillion with a T, will be managed by roboadvisors by 2020. Fast forward to 2022 and that number is more like 4.6 trillion, which is bigger than the GDP of Germany – which is also the fourth biggest economy in the world. So with all of that money flowing right into these robot hands of fintech, I’m wondering, who owns the future of money management? How does New Wave tech play a part? And to help answer just that, today Business Casual is really excited to welcome Jon Stein on the show. Jon thank you for joining us.
Jon Stein: Hey Kinsey. Great to be here. Thanks for having me.
Kinsey Grant: Of course. You are the founder and CEO of the online financial advisor Betterment. We’re really excited to talk more about Betterment today and learn a little bit more about your story, which is pretty interesting.
Jon Stein: Yeah it’s a big topic. I love the way you framed it up there. A lot is changing in the industry, and I’m happy to share some perspective.
Kinsey Grant: Cool. So if you’re not a Betterment user, a quick run through of how it works, and Jon feel free to jump in if you want to change any of these statements here, but you basically answer some questions that are meant to figure out your risk tolerance, any goals you have financially, and then you pay a small fee, a percentage of your assets annually, and then Betterment handles the rebalancing of your portfolio, reinvesting dividends, things like that.
Jon Stein: We try to do for you all the things that you would do with your money if you had unlimited time and patience to manage it expertly.
Kinsey Grant: If only.
Jon Stein: Yeah. And you know I started the company because I found money management to be overly intimidating, overly frustrating, frankly. I mean I had an economics degree from Harvard, I went to Columbia for business school, I earned my CFA, which is what you do if you want to manage people’s money. And despite all of that, I still found that all the tools that existed for me were trying to get me to do what was right for the company, not what was right for me. And I saw this opportunity to build a financial services company that did the smart thing for the customer, to make it customer-centric in that way of trying to optimize for the customer’s outcomes – to make you better off. And that’s the origin of that idea.
Kinsey Grant: Right. What a revolutionary idea. Doing something right for the customer. But it turns out that’s worked pretty well for you. I mean Betterment is the largest independent online roboadvisor, I recently read.
Jon Stein: That’s right.
Kinsey Grant: You guys have close to 20 billion dollars under management right now, so congratulations.
Jon Stein: Thanks it’s been a fun ride. I mean we’ve been doing this for a long time now. Right I’ve been in this business for 10 years.
Kinsey Grant: So as kind of the CEO, the top dog, as far as these roboadvisors, these new wave roboadvisors, are concerned, give us the lay of the land when it comes to fintech. What are you watching right now? What are some of the key themes and trends that people listening should be aware of?
Jon Stein: I think there are some big trends that underlie the recent things that we’ve been seeing, and by big I mean let’s go back one hundred years right. Why are we investing at all?
Kinsey Grant: Oh I like it, a little history lesson.
Jon Stein: Yeah, you know, if I go back to the early days, investing was this thing happening on Wall Street with a bunch of rich guys in big suits, trading under a tree.
Kinsey Grant: Yeah for some reason, they all look like Winston Churchill.
Jon Stein: Exactly right. Black and white. And and how did we get from there to where we are today? Well a big step was, say, long distance communications: the telephone. Once you could start to take orders from Kansas City and execute them in New York, we had the emergence of say the modern exchanges. And people were buying stocks all across the country, but there weren’t that many stocks to buy. You could buy the large railroads and whatnot. And if I think back to really the world in which the crash of 1929 happened, it was this kind of wild west where small investors were basically getting ripped off sending their money to big Wall Street firms who were doing shadowy things with it. And that wasn’t obviously a very good system. So we had this crash, we had the reforms of the 1930s and 1940s that formed the basis of the securities industry as it is today We had banking rules, we had securities rules, and that paradigm lasted then for another 30 years. We had you know big companies issuing stock, anyone could buy them, and if I think to the way, say, my grandmother invested, she would have bought AT&T or she would have bought GM and held onto it for her whole life. Fast forward to the 1970s: the emergence of the computer. People stop relying on stock pickers and buying and holding a single name because now computers can figure out an index, and you can buy an index fund that diversifies you across lots of different companies and so we have the emergence of the mutual fund, which makes investing more accessible to more people who had never invested before. And with that, we have this popularization and democratization. And we have the emergence of the 401(k), which is your workplace retirement savings, the IRA, which is the individual version of that 401(k), and so on. And the government started to take this view that people should be investing for their retirement and for themselves. That takes us basically through 2010, and all of this democratization of investing and everything hasn’t really made the middle class that much better off yet.
Jon Stein: Right? People should be saving for their retirement, but they’re not really. The advice that exists out there is poor. We created this system that requires people to think about the long term, but people aren’t very good at thinking about the long term. So with my behavioral economics background and understanding that left to their own devices, humans are unlikely to just start making better decisions about the future, I thought what the system really needs is advice and we need to build advice for people. And that’s where our technology comes in. It’s about giving people the right answer to help them make the most of their money because it’s hard to figure it out on your own.
Kinsey Grant: It’s really hard. I mean even honestly some of the letters and numbers that just came out of your mouth are making me like break out in hives just thinking about it. You say a 401(k), an IRA, someone’s wrath in there. I don’t really know all of the ins and outs, and I think that I speak for a lot of people. I mean I spend 60 hours a week covering finance, and still these things confuse me. So what is Betterment doing to make these things less confusing? And walk me through what Betterment does.
Jon Stein: It turns out that the best practices in investing don’t have to be that difficult. We can do things like we can create a portfolio for you, which means buying the right stocks and bonds given the goals that you have. So you might tell us “I’m saving for a wedding next year” and we’re going to invest very conservatively for that. Or you might tell us “I’m saving for retirement.” We’re gonna suggest something more aggressive, you can take on more risk, it’s okay if it goes up and down in the short term because you don’t need it for 30 years! So just let it ride right. And so there’s a right way to invest for each of those.
Kinsey Grant: Okay, and I really want to talk about automation. I think this is something important, a huge trend. We say roboadvisor like people know what it is, but I think some people maybe would benefit from a little more clarity on what exactly you consider a roboadvisor to be.
Jon Stein: So we call ourselves a smart money manager, which is our way of saying roboadvisor. Yeah, roboadvisor was invented by detractors right. It was invented by some human advisors who wanted to sort of you know paint our advances in a bad light. And what it’s really about is making good decisions automated and making the right decision the default, rather than trying to steer you towards some crappy product which is kind of like the old industry way of doing things. When I think about the impact that has on advisors, there’s always a market for good advisors. Good advisors help people plan long term. They’re like coaches. They’re there for you when you need them. But there’s a lot of advisors that aren’t very good. And I would say our technology replaces those bad advisors. It’s almost sort of like hopefully, we get rid of all the bad advice in the system and you can just use Betterment to help you manage your money in a smart way.
Kinsey Grant: Okay. I think a lot of the conversations, surrounding these robo advisers or smart money managers, is around efficiency and making these decisions a lot easier for people to make. Do you ever find though that people are maybe a little weary of letting go of the human connection when it comes to automating this process? I mean for centuries, people trusted one family money manager who handled everything, and now that’s not exactly what people are doing anymore.
Jon Stein: Yeah, there’s something to that. I think people love people. We like to go out and be in parks or be in restaurants where we’re with other people. We’re social creatures. We like to talk to people about our money, maybe. But not everyone does. Some people use an online tax prep software, rather than going to an accountant.
Kinsey Grant: Guilty as charged.
Jon Stein: You know, there are advantages to each. Some people do entirely online banking, rather than ever go to a bank branch anymore. There was a time when people said no one will ever stop going to the branch. You have to go. And I think there are people who really will always value a human advisor, and there’s people for whom a smart money manager, like ours, is great. By the way, we have customer service seven days a week you can talk to. We have CFPs who are amazing on staff, and our customers can call and talk to them if they have questions about their money. So you’re not giving up the human connection; we’re just making it more efficient.
Kinsey Grant: Okay, that makes sense. Another thing I wanted to touch on with this aspect of smart money managers is the kind of “set-it-and-forget-it” mindset here. You answer all these questions and say you’re saving for retirement. You theoretically don’t have to check back in on that too frequently. And I know that there is correlation between checking on your investments less frequently and returns. Tell me more about your take on that though.
Jon Stein: You’re absolutely right. The more that people change their allocation, the more they lose money. So I think one of the worst things a person can do is go out and actively stock pick and actively trade their own account. Time and time again, it’s been shown that maybe less than 10% for sure, depends on the study you’re looking at, but maybe closer to 1% of people actually make money that way over time. And generally, they’re taking on a lot more risk. I’m talking about even like professional intraday traders. It’s just not a way you can make money. It’s about going to the casino where the house always wins because there are generally commissions, or you’re paying the bid-ask spread to trade. Don’t stock trade. Don’t go out and manage your own money that way. It’s dumb.
Kinsey Grant: Okay so if you get nothing from this episode, at least get that. Don’t go out and be a day trader.
Jon Stein: If you want the casino, that’s what it is. It’s just for fun. So maybe do it with 5% of your money or whatever, that you want to waste. But for your real investments, you should put it in Betterment; you should put it in a smart money manager; you should put it with an advisor who’s going to help you make the most of it.
Kinsey Grant: Okay, so I know a lot of people using these smart money managers apps on the smartphones that we’re addicted to now are probably skewing a little younger. Do you ever wonder what the impact of a coming recession would be on these people who likely haven’t invested in any meaningful way in the last 10 years in a recession environment?
Jon Stein: I do worry about that. I think in some ways the current generation grew up in the shadow of 2008, which was the last big crisis: the financial crisis.
Kinsey Grant: And you started Betterment shortly after.
Jon Stein: Started right around that time.
Kinsey Grant: Rising from the ashes.
Jon Stein: Exactly. And everyone said “Why would you start a financial services company now? It’s the worst time.” I said, “I think actually there’s an opportunity because people have lost trust in all these big institutions, so it’s time for something new.”
Kinsey Grant: Now part of the Betterment story here is that it was post-financial crisis. A lot of the big banks went through major seismic changes during that period. What’s your relationship like, as someone who is influential in the financial technology space, with some of these bigger, more entrenched incumbents?
Jon Stein: I think we’ve learned a lot from the big financial incumbents. We’re standing on the shoulders of giants, really. When I when I look at the innovations that we’re able to bring to market, we wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing a day without, say, exchange-traded funds, or they’re called ETFs, which made it easy for us to buy diversified portfolios, and in the most low-cost manner possible. These emerged as really large scale investment vehicles not until about 2010 around the time that we were starting. We could build a globally diversified portfolio with exchange-traded funds. Why does that matter? Because we can buy them on an exchange. We build one pipe to the exchange, we can get you from any provider from Schwab from Vanguard from Fidelity, etc. We can buy the best fund in each asset class, versus the old world where you had to go to a single provider to buy mutual funds from them, and then it was a separate set of pipes and technology to buy from another that made it hard to negotiate and get the best price. But this market of ETFs means that we can get the best and pass it on at the lowest cost to our customers. All that innovation came before Betterment: the emergence of the ETF, the growth of passive investing. And so I’m really grateful for the innovations that the industry has brought to bear. I think where they’ve maybe until recently fallen short, is really thinking about how do we build around optimizing for customer outcomes. I consulted to some of the country’s largest banks and brokers for years, and I saw again and again that they weren’t thinking holistically about how do we make our customers better off. It was just minor optimizations in pricing or this or that to make more off of the clients, rather than making more for the clients. And so that’s where I think it actually takes a new company to change things because most of these big incumbents are public companies that have to report earnings. And so it’s a zero-sum game. Anything they do to make their customers better off makes their shareholders worse off. And so you sometimes need an innovator to come through and disrupt that kind of a system.
Kinsey Grant: So who do you think your competition is?
Jon Stein: I think of our competition as the big brokerage houses. I think about Schwab, E-Trade, and so on. As the places where we’re winning customers from, Vanguard, I would throw into there. We see most of our customers coming from those types of platforms and coming to us because they know that through our technology and through our advice we can not only save them time, but we can make them more money.
Kinsey Grant: Okay, so you’ve got this advisor role that you’re stepping into. You’ve talked a lot. It sounds like human psychology is a big part of what created this idea for Betterment. Where do these coders come in? I mean, are you hiring engineers? Where’s the tech part of this?
Jon Stein: We’ve been hiring so many engineers. About 50% of our team is engineers. It’s more than that if you include product managers and designers, and all the stuff that forms the product organization to actually build our user experience and in the money management that we do. That is what we are – we are product people. We are a consumer-product company first and foremost. We’ve launched recently B2B businesses. We work with advisors. We give our technology to advisors which they can white-label so the best advisors that I was talking about before are using our technology to better serve their clients. We also work with 401(k)s. But those B2B efforts are, in a sense, challenging for us because our DNA is the customer. It’s been customer, it’s always been about building great customer technology.
Kinsey Grant: Okay. And when you say you’re a consumer product, it’s definitely a customer-first attitude. A lot of these bigger banks that have enormous B2B arms as well are coming out with similar, maybe similar is a bit of a stretch, but products that are along the same vein. So you have Marcus from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley has their access investing. What do you make of these new products?
Jon Stein: Yeah, these big banks have a lot of advantages. For one thing, they just have enormous customer bases so that they can make something successful very quickly, if they just put it in front of their whole customer base, they can get big asset numbers that that catch headlines. They can also make things unsuccessful very quickly. They can see quickly whether something didn’t work. It reminds me a little bit – do you remember you Song Airlines or Ted Airlines?
Kinsey Grant: I don’t know right. No, I don’t. Is that the right answer?
Jon Stein: I remember when I was young, there were these airline wars and Delta came out with Song and United came out with Ted, which is part of you know the word United.
Kinsey Grant: Oh yeah clever.
Jon Stein: Which would really challenge their brands. And it reminds me of Marcus by Goldman Sachs or Finn by JP Morgan, these challenger brands that they’ve launched. You don’t remember; them they don’t exist anymore. They’re gone. The parent companies are not. United is still there, Delta is still there, but these like sort of challenger brands went away. And I think that what some of these banks will do is they’ll find ways to incorporate that technology back into the parent brand. It’s a playground for them to sort of experiment and some of that comes back. But we also have now Southwest Airlines and JetBlue, and we had for a long time Virgin, until they until they just merged with Alaska like the challenger brands also became big and grew market share. And so some of those challenger brands, like Betterment, will be here for the long term. We’re not going to put Schwab out of business. There’s no chance of that. There there are a lot of smart people working there. They’re going to adapt and try to copy a lot of what we’re doing because they’re smart. But they don’t get it all, right? And they can’t really because it’s very different from their core systems. It’s different from the way they’re setup. We’re an advisor first and foremost, and I think that it just makes us a different kind of company.
Kinsey Grant: So there is a version of reality in which, say, Marcus flops but Goldman takes whatever proprietary tack they had there and figures out a way to weave it into their banking?
Jon Stein: Exactly. In Finn, which was the challenger bank from J.P. Morgan, just shut down this summer, which you know it was maybe on market for six months. They weren’t seeing the kinds of things they wanted to see and I credit them actually for shutting it down quickly. That’s a good fail fast kind of mentality.
Kinsey Grant: Yeah. If you’re going to fail, fail fast. I mean, not to be a negative Nellie here, but speaking of failing, when you say you’ve got 15 billion dollars as one of these newcomer Smart money manager apps, you have some money that you’re managing. You’re only charging a quarter of a percent on what you have. That’s not a ton of net income at the end of the day. Does that ever concern you as one of these people in the fintech space?
Jon Stein: I think there will be a lot of consolidation in our space. I think everyone wants to provide a full customer experience, and so I think there’s some point solutions out there that are maybe just minor innovations that are going to get aggregated and and bought up either by an innovator like us or by one of the larger incumbents.
Kinsey Grant: Part of the ethos of these new smart money managers is low fees. You want to keep them low, keep people happy, make it easier, streamline everything. Do you feel any sort of fee war coming on? I mean I know there was a little bit of beef a couple of years ago with another company about press coverage of these fees. What are your thoughts around that possibly changing in the future or growing or shrinking? What can we expect?
Jon Stein: Part of the thing we’ve always wanted to do is provide as much value back to customers as we can. And so, like I said earlier, there is a bit of a zero-sum, right? You know, we’re doing as much as we possibly can for customers and trying to pass on the rest of them. We do a lot more for you than than the traditional incumbents, and we pass a lot more back to you than the traditional incumbents. Somehow, you have to cover your costs. So it’s not like fees all go to zero. If you’re paying zero in fees, watch out.
Kinsey Grant: Yeah. Good advice isn’t free.
Jon Stein: You’re the product. Your information might be being sold or they’re somehow making money off of you. I think most people don’t appreciate just how much money the big brokers make off their cash for instance. The fact that, generally, if you have any savings or cash on the side at one of the big brokers, you’re not earning interest on it, that was, in the last year, 57% of Schwab’s revenue came from your idle cash. So they could give everything else away for free and they’re still making money because you’re just giving them cash and not thinking about how much they’re not paying you for the cash that they should be paying you on. That kind of thing frustrates me. We’re very transparent about our fees, we’re upfront about it. It is what it is. And I think there will always be fees for services. And I think customers are happy with that, as long as they’re getting a good value.
Kinsey Grant: Okay, so these these values that you’ve talked about, I think there’s two ways of talking about quote unquote value in this conversation. There’s what customers are getting, what they’re benefiting, and then there’s also the more philosophical sense of the word. One of the big value props I think for a lot of these new smart money managers is this idea of democratizing financial products and advice. So what are your thoughts on that as a whole school of thought?
Jon Stein: This is a big question. What do I think about democratization of investing as a theme? I have a lot of thoughts on this. One of the reasons I am in this business was a frustration with the tools. So you know I mentioned earlier that I went to Harvard for undergrad and I studied economics. You know what a lot of people with that background do is they’ll work in banking for a couple of years and then maybe private equity and then maybe a hedge fund. And when I would talk to these friends who were going down that path, and say like why are you doing this, you know there’s not a lot to it. You’re not really making society any better off; you’re making money for yourself, which is a fine thing to do, but you’re really in the end, the impact that a hedge fund has on society is to make more money for rich people. Right? Because you and I, general middle-class America, don’t have access to these vehicles. We’re prohibited from investing in them, which may be right or it might be protecting us, but it doesn’t feel fair to me that all the best advice and investing talent goes to the richest people in this country. We expect everyone to invest. Why do the rich people get a better investment vehicle? That’s bad. That is not a good outcome for society because what makes societies better is more equality of opportunity. That, in general over time, makes societies better off. It’s one of the reasons that America works. We have a middle class where everyone in theory has an equality of opportunity. And this disparity of income that we’ve seen in the last many years here in America is probably the biggest social problem that we’re facing right now. It’s really bad. So we need to do what we can to equalize that, to give everyone equal opportunity – not make everyone equal, but equal opportunity. And so access to the best investing tools should be given to everyone. Access to the right kind of advice should be given to everyone. And that is what I am really passionate about and helping build this access equality of opportunity to strengthen the middle class of America. I think also there is a reduction in stress that comes from not having to worry about your future. And that is super valued to people and is something we should all care about. When I think about in the world we are today, we have a bit of a pay as you go pension system, Social Security, which is good. It doesn’t cover all of our retirement needs which is okay, we have to invest some on our own. But when it comes to investing in general, people don’t know what they’re going to get. It’s like you’re told to save, you’re told to save it, but am I putting enough in my 401(k)? Am I going to be okay? Am I going to have enough? You know, without advice, it’s hard to know. And we provide that advice to give people this experience or sensation of defined benefits where you know what you’re going to get out and you know you’re going to be okay in what is a defined contribution world. Defined benefit as a pension, defined contribution is a 401(k). We’re giving you that feel of the pension because of the advice that we’re giving you, even though you’re you’re saving in a 401(k) or an IRA.
Kinsey Grant: So a lot of what we’ve talked about today has a lot to do with this sort of human psychology aspect. Part of your marketing materials, I think I read it online, was powering the pursuit of happiness. Is that a lofty goal? When you wake up in the morning, do you look at yourself in the mirror and think ‘how am I going to power someone’s pursuit of happiness today?’
Jon Stein: I think about it all the time. In a funny way, it’s such a hard thing to define. I just know that we’re always after it. And you never really get there. That’s the thing about happiness. I’m a student of happiness a bit,I believe. I studied a lot of psychology and as an undergrad as well, and I believe that most of us have a set point of happiness and you can deviate from that for a while on the upside or the downside, but we generally come back to that set point. There’s a few things you can do to kind of long-term improve that set point of happiness Things that you hear all about all the time, like good exercise and in good relationships and meaning in your work. And when I talk about the pursuit of happiness for our customers and for our employees, I’m thinking about how do we find meaning along the way? How do we enjoy the journey of life maximally? How do we make the most of what we have? These kinds of themes are core to Betterment. This belief that in the pursuit, we actually are better off and we are happier. I know it’s like it’s a big concept.
Kinsey Grant: It is, but I think it checks out, and I think a lot of these new companies that are cropping up using this fintech label are also probably thinking in a similar manner.
Jon Stein: Eh, I don’t know.
Kinsey Grant: Okay well maybe we’ll touch on that, but I mean it’s not just finance, it’s not just technology. Everything that people do today, if you want to have a smart business, you have to be thinking about what your customer is thinking constantly.
Jon Stein: I think there’s a lot of new fintech companies that really are just kind of like the old companies in gouging you in some way. That’s hidden. And you know maybe they talk about you know some nice things, but actually they’re just ripping off people. I see it all all the time.
Kinsey Grant: Is that gouging in terms of what they’re charging you to hold your money?
Jon Stein: One of the problems with money management is that it can be opaque and complicated and it is easy to hide fees. And so a lot of what companies do is they take advantage of people’s short termism. If you think you will never pay an overdraft fee, you don’t look at how much they’ll charge you for the overdraft. If you think that you’ll never need a short term loan or be late on your credit card payment or these kinds of things, you don’t look at that fine print, because you’re like “whatever the headline price is cheap”. But then they get you, when you’re at your most vulnerable and when you can’t do anything about it.
Kinsey Grant: And nobody thinks that they’re going to overdraw.
Jon Stein: Nobody thinks about that. And unfortunately, that’s the way a lot of these companies make most of their money.
Kinsey Grant: When we think about bringing these financial tools to a bigger group of people, I can’t help but wonder if maybe that also, you know you mentioned before breaking into B2B, would you ever consider adding more avenues of investment on Betterment? Something like an alternative platform, like Rally road or Masterworks, that are doing fine art and cars, things like that are getting a lot of of headline press right now. What are you thinking when it comes to those?
Jon Stein: So I’m not invested in any of those things personally. I’m interested in them in that I think they are trying to democratize the thing a little bit. But I just don’t know that it’s a democratizable thing. So there’s people who want to provide access to everyone to hedge funds which I think is interesting. But you just can’t really. These things, they don’t work at scale because you can’t deploy unlimited capital into the strategy that a particular hedge fund is using. They have a limited amount that they can deploy. With the cars or the art, I’m not an expert on this, but my view is that part of the value of owning a fancy piece of art is you get to put it up in your home in Palm Beach, or you know the Hamptons, or whatever. And there’s some exclusivity value to having that thing. I own this thing. I don’t know if you get that same value out of owning a fractional share over that thing.
Kinsey Grant: Yeah, it’s weird to say I own one small percent of some old car.
Jon Stein: It’s like having a 30 second timeshare on a fancy vacation property. Is there really value in that? So I’m not sure that that is a great asset class. I’m not recommending anyone invest in it. We’ll see.
Kinsey Grant: Okay, well another thing I’m wondering if we’ll see about: I know that the U-word, unicorn, has been tossed around. You guys were last valued at 800 million, I believe. Do you have any thoughts on what the future for Betterment looks like?
Jon Stein: We’ve been growing so fast this year that I’m just really excited about the products we’re rolling out. The customer response to this every day cash management, as we’re calling it, has been super exciting. And I’ve always said that we want to be an independent public company because I feel like that’s the best way for us to continue to serve our customers’ best interests for decades to come. And we’re on that path.
Kinsey Grant: Do you think that we’ll ever get this IPO season for these fintech companies?
Jon Stein: Definitely. I don’t think everyone will IPO, just like not every tech company IPOs, but for the for the leaders, for sure. You’ll go see some IPOs.
Kinsey Grant: If you had to say in 30 seconds or so how the evolution of tech in the fintech space has changed the game, what would you say?
Jon Stein: Continuing to improve outcomes for customers and increasing access to customers. Those are the things that customers really care about. Ultimately, in this business, always comes down to performance, convenience and peace of mind. We’re improving the performance, or the actual outcomes you get, and making things easier and more convenient.
Kinsey Grant: All right that sounds pretty good. So now we will kind of go into our a little fun part of this. So we have this magical Wheel of Fortune that you get to spin. We turn up the volume here, so feel free to hit the middle.
Jon Stein: It’s got sound effects. Just tap here. Okay.
Kinsey Grant: There we go. What’s it going to be?
Jon Stein: Tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick.
Kinsey Grant: Looks like, pick a number. There we go. Pick a number. So, what is the best age to start a business? Pick a number.
Jon Stein: 28. I took a class in business school about the successes of entrepreneurs. The things that you can do to maximize the success for your business are start relatively young. I guess there’s a few outliers who start when they’re in college. I think that’s actually more rare than common.
Kinsey Grant: Facebook and Morning Brew.
Jon Stein: You don’t want to wait too late. I think founders are more often to start companies in their 40s than in their 20s and it’s more common. However, those companies that they start in their 40s are more likely to be professional service firms or general contractors or things like this: law firms, doctors offices, etc.. It’s those kinds of businesses. The big companies that you hear about are often started by people in their late 20s. And if you want to see, I’m going on and on, but if you want to start a company, you’re far more likely to be successful if you start a B2B company than if you start a B2C company. So that part I got wrong.
Kinsey Grant: You’ve done okay with.
Jon Stein: It’s been alright.
Kinsey Grant: Okay so if you’re in your late 20s, now’s the time to act, and if you’re not, channel your inner 28 year old.
Jon Stein: You can be successful at any age. This is just statistically.
Kinsey Grant: Well we love statistics here at Business Casual. Okay, one more round here. Feel free to hit the middle button.
Jon Stein: Go again? Not off the hook.
Kinsey Grant: Oh no, not quite yet. Let’s see. Rapid fire. Okay! Rapid fire. Yes or no. Can anyone be an entrepreneur?
Jon Stein: Yes.
Kinsey Grant: What are you reading right now?
Jon Stein: Oh, I just finished “A Gentleman in Moscow” which is because I went to Russia with my family this summer. It was really fun.
Kinsey Grant: What’s the last song you listened to?
Jon Stein: Taylor Swift’s new album “Lover”
Kinsey Grant: Oh my gosh! Did we just become best friends? What’s your favorite song on the album? Do you have a favorite?
Jon Stein: Are you always asking this? I like the American. I think that’s where the album starts for me. “Cruel Summer” is pretty good too.
Kinsey Grant: Yeah. “Cruel Summer” is probably my favorite. Wow. Great to know. What’s the first quote that comes to mind, when you think of a quote?
Jon Stein: I like the John Stuart Mill quote: “Those who pursue happiness directly, generally don’t find it. But in pursuing something else, they find it along the way.”
Kinsey Grant: Oh that’s nice! Alright, we like that. Cool. So one more spin around the wheel. Let’s go. Follow for follow. So, who is the best person you follow on Twitter? And I know you’re not crazy active on Twitter.
Jon Stein: I like Twitter. Dan Egan is my favorite person to follow. He’s the director of behavioral finance at Betterment.
Kinsey Grant: Okay! Well, Jon I think that we have covered a ton of really really interesting stuff here, and I’m really grateful that you came on to talk with us on Business Casual. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about how I should be going about my end of my 20s and figuring out what works and what doesn’t and taking risks but also using a smart money manager maybe. So thank you again for coming on the show. I’m really grateful that we got to sit down and chat!
Jon Stein: Thanks for having me. This has been a blast. Great, great host. Good, good questions. I really enjoyed it.
Kinsey Grant: Thank you very much.