Forbes: Financial Literacy Is On Course To Be Big B2B Business

June 30, 2017

(As appeared in Forbes.)

In speaking with many fintech startups, financial literacy—or the lack thereof—is a huge point of opportunity. While many startups are focusing on how to reach individual consumers, some businesses believe the best way to reach them is through business-to-business channels.

Having been in the B2B space for years, many see B2B as a great way, through established channels, to shoot fish in a barrel. Rather than reaching out to thousands or millions of consumers, you build a value proposition around the value-add your B2B customers establish with their end consumers.

I interviewed Jane Barratt, the CEO of GoldBean, who is very focused on expanding her footprint in the market in this manner.


From consumption to saving – a shift in mindset

Barratt has an interesting background that has taken her from advertising (and the consumption mentality) to financial investing (and the investing and saving mentality.)

Barratt spent over 20 years in the digital marketing and the digital product and advertising world with financial services clients. In those days, when consumption was king, businesses focused on the largest pool of available clients—the baby boomers.

Time and again in her experience, financial institutions (FIs) focused on those with the largest holdings and assets to promote services. As time passed, and the influence of millennials took hold, FIs found themselves in new territory.


 Challenges with financial literacy know no generational bounds

Although many people talk about the current lack of financial savvy amongst consumers, it isn’t a new thing or a strictly generational thing. Barratt frequently experienced banks encouraging baby boomers to ‘bring them their money.’ She notes they often used guilt, shame, and fear as motivators.

Barratt, who worked all over the world and came to the US in 2004, was personally a ‘saver’ where her personal finances were concerned. She was genuinely shocked by the disconnect between people succeeding grandly with business finance and failing at their personal finances.


Financial empowerment starts with a base of security

She was helping a friend with her personal finances when the idea for GoldBean took hold. As a marketer, Barratt knew there was power in helping people get educated and feel good about their future. If you could just get people to ‘start’ and make it fun, the sky would be the limit.

As Barratt puts it, the secret is in helping consumers create a base of security. Her own ability to start GoldBean would never have been possible if she hadn’t thought that having her own business—and a growing an asset base—was more important than having a fancy house somewhere.


New perspective & influence with the INV Incubator

Barratt was accepted into the Fiserv INV incubator around April of 2016. It has been a powerful milestone in helping commercialize the GoldBean offering.

She had already been focused on building out a particular set of APIs, but through the INV incubator she has access to real-world clients and what they are trying to do. As Barratt puts it, the ability to partner with companies to reach real people—real current customers—is amazing. There is nothing theoretical about building the model in this way.

Barratt admits that a B2B sales cycle can be long, but when it is secured, the opportunity is much broader.

She now doesn’t have to focus on building a relationship with each end customer, because her unique value is an extension of Fiserv’s push for an integrated wealth platform and their financial institution’s relationship with their B2C customers.

By having access to Fiserv’s clients through the INV program, Barratt can more informally share and glean insight into their product roadmaps. This feedback is critical not just from the standpoint of strategic goals, but also concrete realities like database structures and how customers interact with a product.

Barratt says it can be hard to stay focused when many opportunities are coming at you. She describes the incubator experience of too many as ‘innovation tourism.’ She feels she is connected to a group that is more meaningfully connected to consumer needs.

Barratt will likely be headed back into a fundraising phase soon. She feels very bullish about it given the relationships she now has in place. Long live the financially savvy and financially enabled.

Creating a business model that enables financial security as value-add

Barratt did her research and built an Alpha product quickly with her own money. She also, because she had a ‘base of security,’ was able to get to the Beta phase with her own money. With the product in soft-launch, she had everything but the trading piece in pace.

Barratt raised a small pre-seed round and focused on building relationships with investors. Her roadmap was to design a B2C platform, with a B2B strategy on the backend.