Betterment, the Tenth Anniversary of the Financial Crisis and the Lasting Impact on Investors

One of the pillars of Bateman Group’s Brooklyn office is our Money and Markets practice, comprised of financial technology companies dedicated to reinventing how businesses and people approach finance. These range from Anthemis, which is rethinking traditional VC models for financial services, to CurrencyCloud, whose technologies make payments frictionless. A number of fintech startups, including some of the companies we work with, rose from the ashes of the financial crisis. Few are a better example of that Wall Street turnaround than our client Betterment. After starting the company in 2008, Betterment CEO Jon Stein saw firsthand how confused and uneducated investors were, particularly when it came to their personal finances. He founded Betterment with the goals of increasing financial literacy and providing a simplified approach to investments for individuals and advisors alike.

To pay homage to Betterment’s founding days and see how far investors have come since then, Bateman Group designed a research campaign and surveyed consumers who were impacted by the financial crisis. The survey returned some sobering yet unsurprising results, including:

  • Many people still don’t understand what caused the financial crisis and remain in the dark about market performance.
  • The crisis had a lasting impact on financial behavior: two in three survey respondents say they invest less today than in 2008.
  • Those who stuck with their investments, despite loses, are the most likely to feel recovered and optimistic.

 

The majority (79 percent) said they don’t entirely understand what caused or happened during the financial crisis. Roughly half thought the S&P 500 had not gone up at all in the past 10 years. Even more staggering, 18 percent thought it had actually gone down since 2008 (in reality, the market is up over 200 percent from its lowest point). In the words of Betterment’s vice president of behavioral finance and investments, Dan Egan, “The news reports about markets are biased towards fear and negativity: crashes are newsworthy, but steady growth isn’t (unless it’s to stoke fear of another crash). It’s no wonder most consumers feel anxious and like they’re in the dark.”

Ten years later, the economy has recovered from the crisis, but most respondents’ attitudes toward saving and investing have not. Media were eager to pick up this story, and our team leveraged the survey findings to secure 22 unique articles. These include top-tier hits in Money, Fortune, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and the cover of Barron’s. 

We’re proud to be working with companies like Betterment that are addressing investors’ concerns and reshaping the future of finance. Since the launch, our report has continued to generate coverage. These results are a testament to the power of telling stories through data, which is why we launched an in-house data team that works with our clients to develop compelling campaigns that capture the minds of media. If the opportunity to tell these kinds of stories resonates with you, consider joining our team. Check out our open positions here.