How 2020 Helped Shape the Next Wave of Fintech Innovation

These Colorado companies adapted quickly to bring their clients future financial security.
Written by Tyler Holmes
June 11, 2021Updated: June 11, 2021

Ask anyone their opinion on the year 2020 and, no matter who you talk to, the response is bound to be polarizing. The COVID-19 pandemic, Australian bushfires, an impeachment, “murder hornets,” a stock market crash, protests for racial justice and Black Lives Matter, California wildfires; and that’s just a shortlist.

2020 flipped the modern world as we knew it on its head and left us to sort out the pieces. Some we were able to put back together seamlessly, and some made us take a closer, harder look at the way things were being run. We reassessed our relationship to work, where we put our investments and the tech and tools that we rely on every day.

While the financial industry has long been fertile soil for tech innovation, the pandemic created unprecedented demand for faster, better and more tech-driven financial solutions. And certain local companies have responded accordingly. 

For example, digital wealth management platform Personal Capital launched new product features to help address financial planning topics through an online dashboard and a retirement fund projection tool to measure potential recession impact.

At payment service platform SumUp, Head of Payment Partnerships Jodi Floyd said that adapting to remote payments instead of traditional in-person methods was pivotal in supporting their small business clients.

Built In Colorado sat down with Heisner and Floyd to further discuss the internal changes within their organizations that have brought reassurance to both their teams and the clients they serve, and the policies they’re keeping to guarantee a brighter future.

 

Alison Heisner
Group Product Manager

What changed for your business in 2020, and how much of that was driven by the pandemic and the impacts that had on consumer behavior?

In March of 2020, I remember the general sense of fear and uncertainty with this new pandemic, the market drop, and on top of all that a toilet paper shortage. As a business, it was easy for us to move to a remote work environment since our advisory services were already set up to leverage technology rather than physical office visits to interface with our clients. We saw an increased demand for our advisory services as consumers were trying to get financial clarity and control in a time of uncertainty.

We were also concerned about consumers making irrational decisions about their nest egg during such a stressful time. I felt the impact personally when my husband raised the idea of moving some of our investments to cash. I knew that it wasn’t wise to react to market fluctuations in that way, but the situation felt unprecedented. I didn’t want to see our savings go down further. 

 

MORE ON PERSONAL CAPITALPersonal Capital raises $50M Series F to drive continued growth

 

How did you adapt your product to address these shifting trends?

In order to support the increased demand for advisory services, we accelerated the launch of our new Financial Roadmap feature for our clients. This feature helps clients prioritize and address financial planning topics through their online dashboards. For more nuanced financial planning needs, requests are sent directly to the appropriate Personal Capital specialist team to perform the analysis.

We also launched a new feature that allows consumers to model a recession within our Retirement Planner tool. The idea came out of our annual Hackathon event. The feature uses real data from previous recessions that can be applied in the Retirement Planner projection to see what would happen if there was a recession this year or at any point in the future. Even though recessions can seem scary, in many cases, consumers have a long enough time horizon to continue to meet their goals if they stick with their strategy. This feature is available for free to everyone.

We saw an increased demand for our advisory services as consumers were trying to get financial clarity and control.”

 

Looking ahead, what lasting effects do you think 2020 will have on your business? 

Personal Capital decided early on to take on a virtual-first policy, which means employees are given the option to work remotely indefinitely. As a result, some employees decided to move closer to their families or move to a place they feel they can have a better quality of life. This is a huge benefit for the employees but it is also a benefit for the business now that we can hire talent from anywhere across the country. This new policy has helped us to diversify our employee base and gain new perspectives, which helps us to stay innovative.

 

Joni Floyd
Head of Payment Partnerships, North America

What changed for your business in 2020, and how much of that was driven by the pandemic and the impacts that had on consumer behavior?

The pandemic was a major driver in defining our priorities and approach to 2020. Most importantly, we immediately focused on developing new products that would enable “traditional” card present merchants to accept payments in a non-physical environment. We were able to launch these products quickly, and they were organically and immediately adopted by our customers. I’ve never seen an adoption rate this strong in the last 40 years!

 

MORE ON SUMUPThis SumUp Leader Shares How He's Increased Employee Engagement

 

How did you adapt your product to address these shifting trends?

This super speedy adoption really reinforced our capacity to be a partner to small business owners, whether they were pursuing a brand new passion or pivoting careers after losing a job. We’ve always emphasized card present (aka in-person) payments, but after 2020 we can see clearly that remote payments have and will continue to be a big component of our strategy. Additionally, SumUp’s invoicing product and payment link services allowed traditional card present businesses to continue servicing their consumer base with secure and safe remote payment solutions.

Moving away from physical hardware makes the ecosystem more profitable and agile for everyone.”

 

Looking ahead, what lasting effects do you think 2020 will have on your business? 

The fast adoption rate of remote payments very clearly points the payment ecosystem away from physical card payment solutions, and into the cloud. After 2020, we’re smarter, small businesses are smarter, and consumers are smarter: moving away from physical hardware makes the ecosystem more profitable and agile for everyone. What we’re seeing now with so many new entrepreneurs coming in and starting businesses really highlights the need for even more nimble solutions ⁠without relying on a physical credit card ⁠— now we just need to make it happen.

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