Fireside chat with Betterment VP of Growth

On September 22, 2020, Simon Data held a Fireside Chat event with Simon’s very own Whitney Hudson, Director of Client Development for Financial Services, Simon Co-Founder and President Joshua Neckes, and Simon client Katherine Kornas, VP of Growth at Betterment.  

The discussion centered around the importance of building a human-first, relationship-oriented brand and the tactical and organizational components of getting there. 

This Fireside Chat is a part of a series of private roundtables that Simon has been holding with groups of executives around the world. The specific focus of our conversations vary but always orbit how to transform your organization, your marketing, and your customer experience to build deeper long-lasting customer relationships. 

The perfect storm has hit the financial services space with tech-enabled challengers and disruptive FinTechs up-ending a space once dominated by legacy players with a century of client history. Meanwhile, the digital era has increased convenience and lowered switching costs, and the international COVID-19 pandemic has driven people to rethink their personal finances. 

With consumer behaviors quickly shifting toward digital-only interactions, it’s imperative to get an agile understanding of financial services customers and to be able to meet them where they are today and into whatever tomorrow holds. 

Financial matters are incredibly sensitive and personal and finance brands must do all they can to build trust with their clients and prospects. This is why creating an authentic, human brand was the focus of this conversation. 

The key to success in this mission lies in redefining the intersection between technology, data, process, teams, and culture in service of the customer relationship.

Katherine kicked off the discussion by describing how her user-centric product management background at consumer-facing companies informs her role as VP of Growth at Betterment. Originally recruited into a product role, Kornas started working increasingly with the marketing team to bring them up to speed on data-driven, customer-centric practices, such that “growth” as a function at Betterment now straddles content marketing, brand strategy, product management, engineering, design, acquisition marketing, and CRM. 

To learn more about how Betterment’s Growth function straddles marketing, product, and engineering, click here to see the full webinar.

It’s Betterment’s focus on the customer relationship — which requires understanding their core customers and incorporating that understanding into both their product and their messaging — that has helped it organically grow through passionate customer word-of-mouth, which remains Betterment’s top source of new customers. 

Katherine went on to say that, in the context of Betterment’s customer-centric brand, it actually takes two different forces to be an effective consumer-focused brand. 

The first is the tactics: 

  1. Make sure that the messages you put in the market feel human
  2. Put a face to the messages 
  3. Develop creative that resonates with and speaks to the consumer on a needs and motivations level

The second is team operations:

“It’s really critical that my team shows up as human, and that I relate to my team as humans first and as Betterment employees second because I have seen that when we are all operating and recognizing each other as humans, we are more likely to connect with our customers as humans, which then leads to the great relationships that lead to not only the customer success but their ability to feel comfortable referring and bringing more customers to our platform.” 

To learn more about the marketing tactics and unique organizational strategies that Katherine Kornas uses to keep Betterment a disruptive market force in financial services, click here to see the full webinar


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