Careers at Betterment

Mission

Betterment’s mission is to empower people to make the right moves for their money in order to lead better lives.

History

Betterment is an online-investment adviser founded by two ambitious individuals in 2008, Jon Stein, who is the acting CEO and Eli Broverman who is the current COO. Betterment is based in New York and is formally registered by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Betterment’s products revolve around financial services such as portfolio management, asset management, and trust services.

Early on, Jon and Eli encountered a lot of skepticism and resistance towards the idea that would become Betterment. Mainly, this was because people have a misconception when it comes to financial services, where they assume that there must be complexity for there to be credibility. People expect to be confused and bewildered as is the norm with conventional industry players, whereas Betterment’s approach was simple and straight-forward. Even after years of exceptional performance in the industry, this is a challenge that the organization continues to face today.

Jon Stein came up with the idea of Betterment when it occurred to him that concepts he had learned in his behavioral economics and biology courses in college were applicable to many mistakes that people make in the management of their investments so he set out to build the Betterment website.

Jon quickly realized that he could not handle this task on his own even after teaching himself how to code. Jon, therefore, recruited the help of his roommate, Sean Owen, a talented engineer from Harvard who was at the time an engineer at Google. Sean brought to the table the experience that Jon lacked and provided some much needed guidance all through the project. Jon focused on building the frontend of Betterment while Sean built the core backend inclusive of all necessary databases.

After completion Jon recruited an old friend of his, Eli Broverman. Eli was a securities attorney who would guide the team through the regulatory landscape. Jon also recruited Ryan O’Sullivan, an aggressive serial entrepreneur who would spearhead the securing of Betterment’s broker-dealer status by exploiting broker-dealer networks that were already available to him. Ryan O’Sullivan believed in the idea of Betterment and its potential for success, therefore, he was more than willing to assist the team in securing a broker-dealer status.

In August 2008, as the founding members, Jon Stein, Sean, Eli Broverman, and Ryan O’Sullivan signed an operating agreement. Jon was the CEO, Sean the CTO, Eli was COO, and Ryan was president. However, Ryan would move on to pursue other ventures in 2016 after having served for 8 years.

The second challenge that the team would face was discovering that establishing a broker-dealer is a two-year process. In this period, the team would have to set up operations, build Betterment’s core custody and trading technology, and finally, gain the approval of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

On May 26, 2010, Betterment was launched at the very first TechCrunch Disrupt held in New York. TechCrunch is a prominent technology media establishment that profiles startups, reviews upcoming internet products, and spreads tech news. The stakes were high for the Betterment team, who had all forgone their salaries to work on their budding Company. Some teams in the competition had raised as much as $7 million in seed money and the team was feeling a little bit intimidated. As it turns out however, Betterment would go on to win the Disrupt against more than 500 entrants.

The team resumed work a short while after that and, suddenly, Betterment had its first 400 customers. Since then, Betterment has grown to become the largest independent automated advisor. Betterment invests the customers’ money at an unbelievably low cost and manages it in a way that leads to a better outcome in comparison to conventional industry players. Betterment continues to grow its team in order to build additional products and educate and advice more people. Betterment currently serves more than 175,000 customers who have invested over $5 billion with the organisation.

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