With Scott Orn

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Scott Orn

Scott Orn, CFA

Evan Meagher of SigFig on Scaling a Fintech Startup

Posted on: 11/16/2016

Evan Meagher

Evan Meagher

Chief Compliance Officer and VP of Operations - SigFig

Evan Meagher of SigFig - Podcast Summary

Evan Meagher of SigFig came by to share the lessons he has learned helping SigFig scale. Evan is Chief Compliance Officer and VP of Operations so he’s seen it all. SigFig has revolutionized smart personal investing by offering algorithmic index investing. Sometimes SigFig is called a “Robo Advisor” because the machines and algorithms do all the work, leaving higher returns and lower fees for consumers.

Evan Meagher of SigFig - Podcast Transcript

Scott Orn: Welcome to Founders and Friends podcast with Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting, and I have a very special guest today, Evan Meagher the COO of SigFig. Welcome Evan.
Evan Meagher: Thank you, pleasure to be here, I am actually technically the CCO at SigFig, the vice president of operations and finance.
Scott Orn: A very sexy chief compliance officer title, oooh—
Evan Meagher: It’s the best promotion in the world, because it comes with no additional money, but it does come with the possibility of going to jail.
Scott Orn: I’ve shared that title in my past, and it is something, you’re the gutsy man taking that on.
Evan Meagher: That’s right, or a man with nothing left to lose.
Scott Orn: That’s actually really good [laughing]. So SigFig is an awesome company, you’ll give a quick summary, but you guys are basically a robo-visor, we’ll talk about whether that’s a good term or a bad term in a second. But basically, kind of smart, intelligent investing on behalf of the public and making sure that people are not getting ripped off by their brokers and actually the money compounds, and we can all retire and be happy, and live happily ever after, right?
Evan Meagher: Yeah, I mean that’s the idea. I think the best summary of the company’s philosophical underpinning is our CEO Mike Sha has his e-mail signature, and it just says invest better; and that’s the goal, it’s just to help people invest better; and, as a veteran in the financial services industry, in fact I think the reason I got introduced there and hit it off was not because I had this great tech background, but rather I had worked in pretty much every part of the financial services world, except for sales and trading and insurance. And, having lived and worked in those parts the world, there are a lot of good people, in a kind of broken system in a lot of ways. And so the robo advisors like SigFig, Betterment, Wealthfront, Personal Capital etc, they were founded with this idea like what we can do better is we can use technology and modern portfolio theory to help people invest better.
Scott Orn: Yeah, it’s super compelling, actually Vanessa invest that way. Maybe you could talk about how you invest better, like what does that mean?
Evan Meagher: Sure. So, it can get really complicated if you want to really kind of nerd out on the finance of it, but basically anyone who has maybe taken investments or finance or corporate finance 101 class you might have heard of this thing called modern portfolio theory, and that’s a catch-all term for a lot of Nobel prize winning work that basically said, ok markets are efficient and what does that mean— like if Google is trading at 391 dollars per share, that is exactly the fair value of that at that given amount of time, and there’s basically the efficiency of markets suggests that you can’t just like do a bunch of research, more research than the next guy or gal and then beat the market. Now, that stands in direct contrast to what the investment community has kind of argued for a hundred years which is invest with me I’ll make you more money, I’m a great stock picker—
Scott Orn: Or I have a great tip.
Evan Meagher: Yeah, or Ii do great research; and philosophically, I’ve worked at hedge funds who, their very existence is largely predicated on the assumption that they can generate what is called alpha, excess returns over and above whatever the market does, but the track record isn’t very good, and not solely because I worked there.
Scott Orn: It’s like 80 percent of funds in a given year underperformed the market.
Evan Meagher: Right, depending on who is doing the measuring and of course, the biggest thing, and we’ll get to this when we talk about robos, is like well you might outperform the S&P 500 for example right, but if you outperform it by 50 basis points that’s 51 hundreds of a percentage point for those of you who aren’t in the finance world, if you outperformed by 50 basis points but you charge 200 basis points to management— you didn’t really earn that right, I mean, your client would be better off as being the S&P 500. And yeah, it is a big number it’s something like 75 percent or 80 percent.
Scott Orn: And that’s in the given year, and then when you start stacking like two, three, four, five years together almost no one outperforms the market over five years.
Evan Meagher: Yeah, I think over the last four years, you didn’t even have to go to five years, there isn’t a single actively managed mutual fund that has outperformed the S&P 500 in all four years. And when I say actively managed that is this concept of trying to generate alpha of trying to beat the market. Whereas passive instruments that we use, like exchange traded funds they tend to like just replicate an index; and so at our various custodians, and we’re not a broker dealer we are just a registered investment advisor, we basically used their liquid passive indexed ETFs, exchange-traded funds, which are like a mutual fund with some slight differences that probably aren’t that important to our conversation, but we use those and the expense ratios on those which is say how much it cost just to be invested in the fund on an annual basis, are between five and fifteen basis points on average, whereas the average actively traded mutual fund which remember, historically like does not outperform the market charges up to one 180 basis points for the really expensive ones.
Scott Orn: It’s like 20X to 30X more expensive.
Evan Meagher: Exactly.
Scott Orn: Yeah, and if you just compound the return without those giant expenses, you actually can retire faster, do better and all the academic research says like low fee is the way to go.
Evan Meagher: Yeah, I mean basically, if you buy the notion that you’re not going to beat the market, that you can’t generate alpha by just doing more research; and there’s obviously, there’s a lot of people who don’t believe that’s true, they’ll joke about economists who believe in efficient markets is like two economists from the university of Chicago walk down the street, one of them points to a 50 dollar bill on the ground and says oh 50 dollar bill, and the other says no, it can’t be a 50 dollar bill, someone would have picked it up by now. So that’s the joke, but if you do believe in efficient markets, and this is what I would say, and I’ll say this as Evan Meagher, not as a representative of any company, I will say that in my opinion, you, whoever is listening to this, are not going to beat the market on average. Because you don’t have a hundred PhDs from Caltech in a skyscraper in Manhattan, trying to find the best like quant arb trade, those guys work 110 hours a week, you’re not going to beat them, it’s sort of like the way Vegas, like no one just like walks into a casino in Vegas and says I don’t know, Tom Brady’s pretty good, I’m going to lay the seven points for the pats, and then makes money consistently.
Scott Orn: Yeah, it’s the same kind of like the reason why those casinos are in the desert is because it works, the mutual fund, those guys charge biggest amounts, they’re not necessary delivering for their clients; I mean, I do think, maybe the way I think about it, I have like half my money indexed, and then I have half of it picking stocks that I personally like, and I am 100 percent honest with myself and know that I will actually probably underperform, but it’s kind of fun for me and I work in tech, I feel like I have some insights in a tech, that’s the money I invest in tech company; but you should be honest with yourself and not expect to like, you’re not Warren Buffett, it’s going to be hard for you to beat the market.
Evan Meagher: Yeah, a lot of people— and, by the way, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and if you derive some intrinsic value from like I enjoy having a hypothesis on a company, you just, that’s all you should really be, is just be honest with yourself to like if you’re placing a trade being like I really like Netflix, I like their product, like are you really making the trade with some sort of informational edge vcv the hundred PhDs in the guy script, like probably not. But that’s okay, what you’re describing is that some people would call that bar belling, and that’s like okay, I’m going to put x percent into— this passive indexing strategies that are just going to like track the market and most importantly, it’s not just like one fund, based on your risk tolerance, this is true of every robo advisor not just SigFig, we will basically have our clients take a risk, customer interview risk tolerance questionnaire if you wish.
Scott Orn: Which is brilliant by the way, when you go sign up, it actually just, you have to basically emotionally commit to your risk profile, and there’s something to be said for like clicking buttons that say I want a super aggressive portfolio, or I want a safe one, and even that, it’s almost like pre marriage counselling a little bit, it’s like, hey let’s make sure we’re on the same page here, except you’re doing with a website, but it really does help you kind of boil it down for yourself.
Evan Meagher: Yeah, our director of research is a great guy, he has PhD in finance, former finance professor and he and our chief investment officer who is also a great gal, they work very closely to kind of hone the questions in that questionnaire, so that we get an accurate picture of two things, not just the individual’s willingness to take on risk, but also their capacity to take on risk; and the willingness is really more psychological and qualitative, but your capacity is a little bit more objective and quantifiable, and if those are in conflict, our philosophy is like your capacity is a little bit more important, we are going to wait that a little higher and so here’s an example, here’s two examples, you could have someone who is like 75 years old, relies on income from their portfolio to pay their bills and have a mentality of like let’s let it ride, and we would say well your willingness is high but your capacity is a little lower. And on the other end of the spectrum, you have someone who is 25 years old, but saw what happened in 2008, and says like I just want to be a 100 percent in cash, and it’s like well, now you’re just taking on a different kind of risk, you’re taking on the risk that your investments don’t grow enough to help you retire. So yeah, that’s kind of how it works and the one thing that I haven’t talked about just for those people who are maybe not as familiar with modern portfolio theory is that you have a bunch of different asset classes, and in our case, they are for example US equities, international developed equities, international emerging market equities, fixed income, real estate and there’s a bunch of different asset classes, and this modern portfolio theory basically creates this efficient frontier that maximizes the expected return for the given level of risk that your responses to the risk interview suggest as appropriate for you. So, diversification, diversification, diversification is critical.
Scott Orn: I always think that some asset classes at all times are doing well, and some are doing poorly. And if you mix it up, you have a shot at getting some that are good someone that are bad, but nothing tanks all the same time and nothing goes as a rocket ship all the same time. And that’s that efficient frontier you’re doing, by mixing your money, some of your money real estate some bonds, some of the stocks and some internationally, you actually get a really nice diverse mix and nothing crashes, and it grows nice and steady over time.
Evan Meagher: Yeah, I mean, the magic to diversification is and this again starts to get, if you really want to nerd out which I love to do on finance, is in perfect correlation and that is just so, correlation between negative one and positive one as long as the correlations aren’t all exactly one, there is some benefit from diversification.
Scott Orn: Can you explain that for the audience real quick?
Evan Meagher: Yeah, so let’s see, let’s say Scott and I are playing ping-pong against each other. The correlation between my success and his success is negative one, because it’s literally, if I when he loses and if he wins I lose, so that is negative one correlation. Now, let’s say we’re playing doubles and I am playing with my wife Rebecca and you’re playing with your fiancé Vanessa, and then my correlation which is unfortunate because my wife is a horrible ping pong player, but my correlation with Scott is going to be negative ones still, but my correlation with my partner, my wife Rebecca who is lovely, is going to be positive one, because literally if I win she wins, so those are the two extremes, perfect correlation and perfectly inversed correlation, that’s negative one. Everything else is kind of in the middle, right, so a correlation of zero means that they are totally unrelated, so that would be like if Scott is playing against my wife and I’m playing against Vanessa than my win success rate and Scott’s are totally uncorrelated, that’s zero correlation.. And so the ideal there—
Scott Orn: Are you shooting for zero, right like you’re shooting for low correlations between things?
Evan Meagher: That is actually a more complicated mathematical question that Aaron Gubin, director of research, again a very smart guy and a very good pitcher as well plays on my baseball team, he could answer better, but negative correlations are fantastic. That means that when one goes up the other goes down and you can use that, that creates more, basically now we’re nerding out, it moves the efficient frontier for the north. Now, just before Aaron yells at me, I took the CFA exam and all these concepts are in the CFA exams, literally ten years ago, so I am drawing on some dusty cobwebs, I don’t live in the algorithms anymore, but yes, the wider the range of correlations between classes the more the efficient frontier expands upward, which is to say the higher and expected return you can expect for a given level of risk. So that was really a mouthful one.
Scott Orn: Yeah, if you’re investing in Google and Facebook they’re going to move pretty similarly.
Evan Meagher: Perfect, that’s a better example. I don’t know where ping-pong came from.
Scott Orn: If you invest in like gold mines and Google, they’re going to move pretty differently, and you’re looking for that kind of diversification over a lot of different investments.
Evan Meagher: Yes, so actually that was a better, I don’t know where the ping pong came from, maybe we had it that out, but I don’t know, maybe it’s pretty good.
Scott Orn: I actually got it, yeah.
Evan Meagher: Okay, so but that’s a great one, Google Facebook. And here’s the problem like people say I’m in 30 different stocks, I’m diversified, like what are those stocks— Linkedin, Google, Facebook, and I am like oh, so they are all US based tech companies, those aren’t going to be a correlation of one perfect, but it’s going to be high. Whereas like, if you, here’s a good example of a negative correlation, oil stocks and airlines; airlines their biggest cost is the cost of fuel, so if cost of oil goes up their stock prices are going to tend to go down, and then on the other side of the coin, like oil stocks obviously when the cost of oil goes up guess what more revenue so our stocks up, so that’s a good example of a negative correlation. And then, a zero correlation could be like Netflix and Australian copper mine, they have nothing to do with Netflix streaming at any given day.
Scott Orn: And so the math that SigFig is doing is basically saying we’re going to diversify this for you, as best as possible, but we’re also going to do it as cheaply as possible, which saves you a lot of money on fees. And that’s like, those fees are like one gigantic variable that you can control, and that’s why—
Evan Meagher: That is the only one you control.
Scott Orn: Yeah, I love that about you guys, but plus, I have kind of behind the scenes, I have all these math guys figuring all this stuff out and doing all the work for me, and it’s smart diversification.
Evan Meagher: Exactly, and when you think about fees, that’s really where we focus on, there’s kind of three fees that the average investor pays, depending on whether they’re entirely self directed or if they’re picking the individual stocks or if they’re picking individual mutual funds, or maybe they have a registered investment advisor, like a financial planner or a financial advisor that they’re working with. So number one is the advisory fee, and that’s if you’re actually engaged with like I have a financial consultant or planner or what have you; and the average of financial planner— financial planner is not the right term, but none of these things are a term of art, so let’s just say financial advisor; and this is a register investment advisor, not a broker those are slightly different, a broker is going to try to sell you products manufactured by his or her, and get a commission on that.
Scott Orn: Those kind of brokers are a little bit more old school now, like that a less of a phenomenon.
Evan Meagher: There is still like out there and prevalent, but with recent changes to, like for example the department of labour, rules around retirement accounts, they are not going the way of the dodo, but it’s possible that their share of the pie will shrink. So if you have a financial consultant who charges you an annual fee, the average in the United States is like somewhere between one and 1.3 percent.
Scott Orn: I always hear like one.
Evan Meagher: Yeah one to one and a quarter, we see as high as 1.3, and actually we see even higher and I think our data, so again, we have a big portfolio tracker product that we built that self reported I think our data guys determine that the average was 1.3 percent, which is really high; we charged 25 basis points, that’s about one fifth, so that’s the advisory fee. So right off the bat we’re a fifth the cost. Then you take it down to the next level, it’s like okay, the expense ratios, and that’s the cost of being invested in a mutual fund or exchange traded fund, we tend to use exchange traded funds. Now if you’re picking individual stocks, there’s no such thing as an expense ratio, the expense ratio is the administrative cost of running the fund, investing in the various companies—
Scott Orn: When you buy the S&P 500 index you are buying a fund of some sort, it’s just a low cost fund.
Evan Meagher: Exactly, it’s just not managed actively, it’s literally just like whatever is S&P 500, we buy in the market waited proportions. Again, the mutual funds, they can be, the mutual funds out there, that have 187 basis point cost, now that’s not average but they run from 50 to 150, again there are lower ones and higher ones, we use funds that start at five basis points, these are big liquid huge ETFs that track like the US total return index. So right away—
Scott Orn: So the competitors SigFig is already at kind of two to three percent fee structure?
Evan Meagher: Exactly, yeah.
Scott Orn: And bonds [17:38 inaudible] what right now, like one percent, so you are actually like losing money on some of these stuff, it’s crazy.
Evan Meagher: In a low yield environment it’s really tough, and you can talk about whether you think the risk premium is coming down, yeah it’s tough to justify the fees, so there is price competition. And the third fee is commissions, and that is, if you’re trading your own stocks every time you buy or sell, depending on your brokerage, if your e trade might be eight bucks, ten bucks, five, whatever, and so what we and even though even if you’re buying like mutual funds, there’s still like a commission on those on those mutual fund buys and sells; but what we do is we work with a couple different custodians, Fidelity, Schwab, TD Ameritrade, we’re rolling on two others in the next few months. And we try wherever possible to use the brokerage free ETFs. And so for example, at Schwab, that’s Schwab ETFs, and at TD Ameritrade trade, that’s— correct me if I’m wrong Aaron, he’s out there somewhere, there’s largely vanguard that are again, they’re on the brokerage free list, and at Fidelity it’s mostly black rock, ishares products. And so if right away you just nip that out of the equation, and now you are not paying commissions on your ETFs, if you come into SigFig with a hundred shares of Apple to sell those out, first of all, well done; and then, number two, you’ll pay eight dollars to the, not to SigFig, to the custodian, the broker who is going to sell those shares for you, but then when you buy the brokerage for ETF there is no commission. So we cut that piece, so you’re talking all in total cost of management if you’re at SigFig of like 25 to 40 basis points, possibly even lower, and that differs depending on your allocation and etc, etc, versus up to like three percent. It’s a big difference.
Scott Orn: It’s a huge difference. So you guys have nailed this like, I mean, you’re regulated in some ways you probably have to be careful what you say, but like you guys are kicking as the company is growing super fast, you raise multiple big rounds of capital like what does it feel like to be on the rocket ship?
Evan Meagher: First off, I would, putting on my chief compliance officer hat, I mean, everything I’ve just described are factual statements, so I am comfortable, like this would probably be considered to be an advertisement and therefore, I don’t want make any misleading claims about performance, so I just keep that always at all times in the back of my mind. One thing that’s interesting is I know there are other companies that do this, and they’re doing it well, and one thing that’s different about us is we are not, we have a small business to consumer product, where people can still sign up at, and hire us to be their registered investment advisor, advise them on there and we get discretion over their accounts and manage their money for them, and in as a low cost efficient way as possible. But, there are other players in this space, like Wealthfront and Betterment, who raised big rounds and they want to build huge direct consumer brands, and they are competing with the Schwabs and Vanguards, and honestly they are great companies, I know the former chief compliance officer or Wealthfront, great guy, I know a couple of people in the legal department at Betterment, and all these companies want to do honestly is the right thing by their clients, and so I respect the heck out of them and honestly, I hope that they are incredibly successful. Because our strategy is a little different, rather than, it’s expensive to acquire customers in this space, and so we partner with large financial institutions, the one that’s been announced so far publicly is ubs, they’ll be using without going to too much detail some of our tools to empower their advisors and their clients with this digital product, that’s lower cost and so on. So that’s a little bit of difference between us and some of the other players in the marketplace, but again those players are trying to reduce everyone’s costs and help them invest better I like them.
Scott Orn: It’s also just like, it’s a humongous pie, it is like one of the biggest pies in the world, and everyone, there is just a lot of fat in the system and you guys, and same with Wealthfront and all these other guys are trimming the fat, and there’s plenty of profit to go around for everyone at the end of the day. So you don’t need to like cut each other’s throats, it’s like you’re going after you’re just helping people and because the opportunity is so big, everyone’s going to be successful.
Evan Meagher: That’s my hope, I will say this again, I’m going to speak as Evan Meagher here, not as a representative of any company, but yeah occasionally because they are arguably close competitors Wealthfront and Betterment have kind of sniped at each other, and my attitude and again I’ll speak only for myself, is like, look you’re both great companies, doing the right thing you shouldn’t have to be training your guns on each other, and that’s just my opinion, but again, they’re both great companies that are ethical and they’re trying in my opinion again, this is just Evan Meagher’s opinion that they are doing the right thing for the clients trying to minimize their fees, get people started investing who would otherwise be intimidated, like that’s a good thing.
Scott Orn: Yeah, so you guys are going, you are take more of a channel approach, do you have to like call on the UBS advisers, and how do you like how do you structure those deals, like you get a kind of a deal with big parent company UBS and then you go out and message to the advisers.
Evan Meagher: Yeah, I mean, let’s just take the generic example rather than any one particular partnership, and the fact is every partnership is different, different banks or other financial institutions, they see— let’s put it this way, the benefits to a well diversified, automatically rebalanced, low cost portfolio provided in a great digital experience, not just on the web but also mobile, tablet and even wearables, we were actually the first financial services company to have an app for the apple watch.
Scott Orn: Wow, that’s awesome.
Evan Meagher: Yeah, that’s kind of where the world’s going, and, even for old fuddy- duddy like me like mobile first is real. Those benefits inure to a broad set of demographics and use cases, it’s not just the millennial wants to get started. So different partners want to pitch it to different people, and so it might be that a bank says all of our accounts under x dollars, because they could be so called Henry’s high earners not rich yet, or they might be so called that’s like an incubation account or an obligation account where my advisor has a relationship with a 50 million dollar client, and his or her granddaughter has a 20 thousand dollar [24:15 inaudible] like that is not that profitable to service but if I can put them on a great digital product that automates a lot of the management, well then great, then I’ve done my client a solid and managing this person’s money even though it’s not super lucrative.
Scott Orn: That’s interesting, so it’s less about kind of the return structure, more about like access and the ease of use and things like that.
Evan Meagher: It’s about all of those things yeah, it’s just investing better. So in some banks and other partners want to use those to empower their existing advisers, someone to use it for accounts that they don’t want to have their advice, there is tons of different ways it’s like the internet originally was like just for looking at pictures online and maybe getting a Red Sox score, and now it’s used for a lot of different things now.
Scott Orn: But I actually can relate in our business, because one of Vanessa’s key insights was putting everyone on these new cloud tools and four years ago that was like super revolutionary, but now Gusto and Zenefits, and, Expensify are big companies now, everyone kind of gets it, but like that’s how Kruze Consulting has grown so fast, it’s basically adopting what the advisors and the banks are doing with you guys, like oh, this is a great tool, it makes everybody’s life better, let’s use it, like let’s not be scared of it, right. And sometimes, like those tools hurt our bill [25:32 inaudible] lower sometimes but we’re fine with it, because that’s where the world is going and we can actually service more clients that way. And I think the advisors are making some type of calculus like that too, it’s like hey this is going to make me more efficient and maybe I can call on more clients or maybe I can stay in touch with my clients better or my clients are just happier because they’re using this and they’re going to stick with me.
Evan Meagher: Yeah, I mean, here’s just like what I would call like a penetrating glimpse into the obvious, and that is like change is scary, right, and I’m no different than anyone else, like change scares me, I’d like to still use outlook. If anything that might be like the worst thing to say to a technological guys, this guys still uses Outlook; so I get it, and so invariably there are some advisers out there for whom this digital, frankly it was the [26:17 inaudible] advisers as my understanding that coined the phrase robo-advisor, intending it to be a derogatory term, like a robot can’t provide the level of service that I provide, I don’t want to cast this versions on well meaning financial advisers, because, attitude has always been, there are some people in the industry who wake up every day and to say my job is to put as many RIAs out of business as possible today, and I admire their passion but that is just not how SIgFig seen it, historically; our passion and our view has always been let technology do what it does best, let the humans do what they do best, and the nice thing about technology is like it always builds the right amount at the right time, in the right account, it doesn’t forget to rebalance when your portfolio drifts, because it’s not that big an accounts, technology is nothing if not disciplined. And then humans, humans are not going away, there’s always going to be a level of human services, that’s why we have financial advisors and a lot of other robots do as well, that you can call someone and talk to them and say like hey what’s going on.
Scott Orn: It’s interesting term robo- advisor because I actually, it resonates with me, maybe it’s because I’m a Silicon Valley person, but like oh it’s so, it’s so beaten into me that robots or machines can do a better job in a lot of like math intensive things, or, that is actually appealing to me, that actually is like part of the cell.
Evan Meagher: That’s like the part of the brand.
Scott Orn: And I like talking to advisors once in a while, and I have a great CPA Brian Proses who’s awesome, and he helps us with a lot of tech stuff, but like yeah, I don’t want to mess with that stuff on like a daily basis, I want to just have my portfolio run.
Evan Meagher: Yeah, there’s a great, very smart guy that I would love to do some business with some day out there who has said, and I think this is just a great analogy and that is, in the mid 80s or late 80s, Intuit came out with like TurboTax and everyone was just out there predicting CPAs are going to be an out of business in five years, it was like doom and gloom and then guess what— like nope, the only ones who went out of business were the ones who were providing a commodity service for a premium price, that doesn’t work. If you provide a premium service for premium price, then you have a good business model.
Scott Orn: Yeah, if you are good at what you do, if you are a good advisor whether you’re a start up accountant like us or our just wealth manager, you are going to move up the stack and you’re going to provide high value advice, and frankly, that is probably what you enjoy the most and like we always say is like the tools we use, like Quickbooks, they get rid of the menial terrible work that no one wants to do, like the most junior accountant doesn’t want to like type in expense reports, no one, no human being wants to do that. And so it’s good that all of us in these industries are moving past that. You guys are the same way, like you are helping people.
Evan Meagher: That’s the idea, yeah I mean the idea is that in 2016 you have to provide a higher level of service than just mere asset allocation models that you rebalance once a year for a 125 bases points. Honestly and just like the CPAs who didn’t see Turbotax as a threat but rather as an opportunity, I think the advisers who are more forward thinking and do have that higher level of service they see this as a huge opportunity.
Scott Orn: I totally agree. I’m really happy for you, because you guys, it’s exciting, I know you probably can’t make any comments, but I’m glad to see that the company is doing so well in an industry that’s going so well, and I always come back to that, there’s just so much opportunity, this is like a ten year trend that you guys are on and even five years from now, we’ll look back and be like, oh man there was 20 percent adoption back then, like oh my gosh.
Evan Meagher: Yeah, it’s definitely, we always say it’s early days in the time of robo, it’s going to be a long trend we hope, I mean, we will see, I think. But all the trend lines are good and the tail winds are positive so we’ll see.
Scott Orn: So, where are you guys going, like what’s the future like in big announcements or big trends that you guys are just starting to get going, or is it just execution right now, like get out there and just—
Evan Meagher: You have to balance, execution with forward thinking; as a tower of power once said, what’s hip today might become passe.
Scott Orn: That’s first time tower power’s been quoted on the podcast.
Evan Meagher: Really?
Scott Orn: I know, I am ashamed.
Evan Meagher: So yeah, but what I mean by that is just, robo 1.0 as you call it is like kind of established right people figure this out and it’s a good product and people like it, and so it’s growing, but, the American— Scott and I are alumni of the same business school, which will go nameless, and one of the things I learned there, I forget which guest lecturer said, the American consumer is good at nothing save driving marginal economic profits to zero, and I don’t know if you believed that or not, but the fact is, Americans are really good and pricing always comes down, it very rarely goes up, in any industry, so every year you have to in order to maintain interest in your product you need to continually evolve it, and so, what we’re working on today without disclosing anything is like really, like wow that could be a powerful tool to continue to demystify, decomplex, the investing world, to a lot of people it’s just really confusing and scary. So yeah, we we’re working on a lot of different things, we’re going to go live with some partnerships hopefully in the next, it’s pretty near term. And yeah, it’s exciting, a lot of activity these days.
Scott Orn: Are you still managing to find time to play in a rock band?
Evan Meagher: I am, I am, a band that is impressively unsuccessful; and my pitch to our drummer who just joined was like let me be perfectly clear— this will only ever cost you money, you will be able to maintain your anonymity among hot young rock and roll men or women, it’s a San Francisco we don’t judge, either way, you will not become famous, and you will have an exact one fifth share of the zero royalties that we will never earn.
Scott Orn: Yes, do you guys write your own songs?
Evan Meagher: We do, we do, we’re working on them.
Scott Orn: That’s awesome. That’s great.
Evan Meagher: No gigs to announce, we actually just got a drummer like a week ago.
Scott Orn: Don’t the drummers power the band?
Evan Meagher: Pretty much.
Scott Orn: Yeah, that’s awesome. Well cool dude, maybe you could tell the audience where to find SigFig?
Evan Meagher: Sure, yeah, we’re at and, hopefully for a lot of you we’ll be rolling out or powering a product with your primary banking institution over the next— who knows, so check us out and invest well, it’s my advice to you.
Scott Orn: Awesome, thanks for coming by Evan, it is a great company, a great product like people should check this out, this is praise that the company deserves, so please check it out.
Evan Meagher: Thank you. We try to do the right thing.
Scott Orn: And then we can get like a robo-advisor for writing songs for your rock band, something like that.
Evan Meagher: I’m trying to be as automated as a songwriter as possible.
Scott Orn: All right, thanks for coming by, I really appreciate it.
Evan Meagher: My pleasure.

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