“I plan to create a financial inclusion movement for the nearly ⅓ of America who has been disenfranchised and systematically left behind from opportunity because of high fees, high minimums and lack of access. Everyone has the same aspirations. Everyone deserves the access to achieve them.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Brandon Krieg, CEO and Co-Founder, STASH
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I started my career in 1998 at EdgeTrade and was super early in electronic trading. After we sold EdgeTrade to Knight Capital Group I stayed for 5+ years. After leaving Knight I went to Macquarie Securities as head of electronic execution. After many years of both Ed (STASH co-founder) and I answering friends’ and family’s investing questions, it struck us that if these friends, many of whom had extensive financial experience, were seeking help, what were the 99% doing? That was the “aha” moment. After leaving Macquarie, my co-founder (Ed Robinson) and I took to the streets and started asking regularly dressed people — no suits — if they invest and why or why not. The responses were staggering. All of them said no they don’t invest. They either felt it was confusing and intimidating or too expensive, ultimately, they’d save when they’re were “rich.” We knew there was a massive problem we needed to solve. In 2015, we launched STASH to fill this gap in the marketplace, to democratize investing and empower everyone to learn the importance of financial literacy to create a foundation to build a better future.
Can you share what you believe will be the “Top 5 Fintech and Banking Trends Over The Next 3 Years”
It’s definitely still a bit early, so we’ll have to sit back and watch the trends play out, but I think the rebundling of all parts of the fintech/finance landscape into one product to help consumers across their whole life will absolutely be a strong trend. One stop shopping for consumers’ financial life, for sure. It’s funny to think the trend a few years ago was “unbundling” — whether fintech, media or otherwise. The pendulum is swinging back.
Another one, that we’re already starting to see, is the end of local branches. Through the power of technology, clients can get everything they need through their phone. This inherently will bring even more insurgent challenger banks that focus on the online and mobile space, and target the massively underserved and non-affluent customers.
What do you think makes your company stand out during these disruptive times? Can you share a story?
Over 100M Americans are underserved or underbanked. That’s ⅓ of America which is just plain crazy. And, the median household income in the U.S. is $60K. The financial system is completely backwards — there is no access to investing and saving opportunities for this demographic. They’ve been left behind for far too long. STASH gets rid of the barriers that have systematically kept them from creating better futures for themselves. The minimum investment is $5, the app provides personalized advice and a strong focus on education to help them learn as they go, and build the foundations needed to buck current savings trends. 86% of our 2.3M clients self-identify as first-time or beginner investors — that’s huge. For years, millions of Americans could not participate in the market due to high prices and fees, for example, today Amazon’s shares price is north of $1,700. 40% of Americans cannot even come up with funds for an unexpected expense of $400. Through fractional shares on STASH, average Americans can use the power of dollar cost averaging to invest in their favorite companies, potentially owning full shares over time as their fractional purchases add up. It’s incredibly empowering.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Startups innately help you learn how to reinvent your way of thinking. We are constantly testing and iterating the product, always remembering that the client comes first and addressing their needs is the holy grail — regardless of what my assumptions are. You have to get used to being wrong just as much as you’re right to move fast.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Transparency is key. Whether in an established corporation or a growing start up, the only way to maintain trust with your employees is through complete honesty, clear communication, and a transparent, spelled-out roadmap. It’s the key to keeping everyone focused on the mission.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story or example?
My wife (Denise). Leaving an established, comfortable job at one of the largest global securities companies to launch a startup isn’t easy and when you’re married with kids, you need to rely on your family for support, and help picking up the slack. Start ups are inherently hard, and my wife supporting my decision to leave a stable, great job to take a bet on something I believed in, is something that keeps me going everyday.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
My dad always told me that I “should always reach for the stars and not the moon, because if you fall reaching for the stars you’ll still hit the moon anyways.”
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Exactly what I’m doing right now at STASH. Creating a financial inclusion movement for the nearly ⅓ of America who has been disenfranchised and systematically left behind from opportunity because of high fees, high minimums and lack of access. Everyone has the same aspirations. Everyone deserves the access to achieve them.
Originally published at medium.com