Balancing Free Agency and Education: How SoFi Thinks About Helping Members Make Good Financial Decisions

At SoFi, we think a lot about how we build products to help consumers make good financial decisions. But we thought it’d be interesting to hear how others in the fintech space in San Francisco were considering these questions, too. So earlier today, we hosted a breakfast for members of the press at our new downtown engineering office space in San Francisco to discuss just that along with representatives from Robinhood, Wealthfront, Digit, and Plaid. The panel was moderated by Kristen Berman, co-founder of Irrational Labs with behavioral economist Dan Ariely and co-founder of the Common Cents Lab with Duke University. Here’s a quick recap.

SoFi’s Meron Colbeci, SVP of Product Management, and Lukasz Strozek, VP of Engineering, welcomed everyone to our downtown office and filled everyone in on the hard work that happens in this office location – a space where designers, product managers, and engineers collaborate together on our existing product suite and work on building everything that’s to come in the rest of 2018 and beyond.

Then, Kristen Berman helped us kick off a thoughtful panel discussion with:
• Faith Bolliger, VP, Product Design, SoFi
• Heather Breslow, Lead User Experience Researcher, Robinhood
• Apeksha Garga, Head of Design, Wealthfront
• Sima Gandhi, Head of Business Development and Strategy, Plaid
• Samar Shah, Head of Operations, Digit

We wanted to get to the bottom of how each of these companies may think about wielding the power they have to encourage consumers to make certain financial decisions – whether that be through automated savings (with Digit), trading stocks (with Robinhood), investing for your future (with Wealthfront), providing a seamless integration between finance products (with Plaid), or through products like Student Loan Refinancing, SoFi Invest, and a checking and savings account with SoFi Checking and Savings.

One of our favorite takeaways from the conversation was a remark from Faith, who leads up Product Design here at SoFi:

“Core to SoFi’s DNA is our members and their ambitions matter. We believe that if you don’t know your members, then you can’t know what’s best for them.

There’s this mythology that SoFi used to propagate about HENRYs, that ‘High Earners, Not Rich Yet’ were our target. But through qualitative research, going in and talking to people, what we realized is that our members don’t always aspire to be rich. It’s not a one-size-fits-all, get filthy rich.

Actually, their ambitions and their goals for financial independence are very broad. And that’s really empowered and changed the way the company has thought about our product suite, product strategy, and how to help our members best.”

We’re really grateful to each of the companies who took the time out of their schedules to join us this morning. We hope to host more events like this in the near future – let us know if there’s a particular topic you’d like to hear about next!

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ABOUT SoFi SoFi helps people achieve financial independence to realize their ambitions. Our products for borrowing, saving, spending, investing, and protecting give our more than one million members fast access to tools to get their money right. SoFi membership comes with the key essentials for getting ahead, including career advisors and connection to a thriving community of like-minded, ambitious people. For more information, visit Want an easy and convenient way to manage your financial life? Get the SoFi app. For iOS and Android.

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