Caxy built and launched BestMoneyMoves.com in August, 2016.
A conversation with Best Money Moves Founder/CEO Ilyce Glink
Best Money Moves is a mobile-first employee benefit that employers give to their employees to help them measure their level of financial stress, and then dial it down using a unique content-mapping system developed by Founder/CEO Ilyce Glink, an award-winning financial journalist, author and radio talk show host. Best Money Moves also has non-profit Money Coaches who are available seven days a week to answer questions and work with employees on their budgets.
Ilyce started to talk to us about her idea in February, and we started to build the MVP in March. It launched in September with three customers, and more on the way.
Describe the need BMM is solving for companies and how you first discovered the need existed.
I’ve spent my career helping people make smarter decisions with their money and looking for unique ways to do that in a world where saving money comes last on a list of a hundred important things to do every day.
Here’s what happened: I’d been hired (well, my content marketing company, Think Glink Media, had been) to help develop financial wellness programs for big companies. But they were all designed to do one of two things: Sell things to people who couldn’t afford them, or get more assets under management. Neither of those goals helps solve the financial (and existential) crises that people in America are experiencing today.
When 80 percent of employers say their employees are less productive, less stable in their jobs and unable to take advantage of the existing financial wellness programs companies are already paying for, you know you have a serious problem affecting the vast majority of the American workforce. So how do you solve it?
My answer is to have employers pay a very small amount of money and then offer their employees award-winning information packed in a beautiful, easy-to-use mobile-first design with great tools, videos, and contests to keep people engaged and non-profit money coaches to help solve very real, very scary and very stressful financial issues that nearly every employee has.
In a world where BMM is wildly successful, how is the world different because of BMM?
A world where Best Money Moves is wildly successful has 150 million employees who are feeling less financial stress every day. That means fewer health issues and happier home lives (after all, we know that money issues are the number one reason for divorce). Companies would see better retention levels, higher productivity and happier employees – overall a happier, healthier, stronger, more productive workforce.
New research shows a direct link between financial stress and health issues, and ultimately I’d hope to see better health outcomes. It’s a lot to ask for, but in 25 years of financial journalism, I’ve learned that you should never underestimate the power of the penny.
Your customer is a company but the end users are their employees. What are the keys to keeping both happy?
If employees engage with Best Money Moves, they’ll learn more about how to manage their own finances successfully and they’ll dial down their level of financial stress and be happier and more content and, perhaps, less restless.
Employers pay out billions of dollars when it comes to benefits programs, but rarely get any feedback. I wanted to solve this problem too, which is why we provide near real-time feedback and metrics not only on who’s using the program and how much time they’re spending when they log in, but we also show the employer how it’s working for their employees on a global level. The employer can log in to the dashboard any time, day or night, and see exactly how financially stressed their employees are, and what’s troubling them. They can’t look at individuals, but we have enough statistical data to be meaningful and actionable.
Employers who care to have real-time feedback, we believe, are much more likely to be engaged with their employees’ welfare, and those are the employers we’re looking for.
What have BestMoneyMomves.com customers (the companies) said to you that either changed the direction of the product or focused it?
I’ve talked to more than 200 companies about Best Money Moves since January 2016. Almost all of them are very interested in what we’re doing because although they all offer a wide variety of financial wellness products, none of them are solving the core issue that studies say is causing each company to spend upwards of $15,000 per employee per year: Reducing employee financial stress.
So the employers we have shown this idea (and now product) to have contributed excellent suggestions, which led us to the creation of the real-time employer dashboard because they want to see the progress their employees make reducing financial stress as it happens as well as the ROI. It led us to include live, non-profit money coaches because we know that the small percentage of their population who will use them needs real person and real-time guidance that the HR department can’t provide.
A lot of what I heard confirmed my original idea: Focus on financial stress, dial it down in 14 categories and solve for individual problems. And, that’s our goal. Financial stress is not one big ball, but a bunch of things piling on top of each other. Believe it or not, it’s easier to tackle those issues individually.
What led to the decision to partner with a software company as opposed to building it yourself?
I’m a really good financial journalist and I run a great team of content marketers, but I can’t code to save my life. And, if I hired someone to code, I’m in no position to judge whether or not they know what they’re doing. So I looked for a smart team that I could trust that was locally-based who could be partners in not only developing my vision, but adding their years of experience and expertise to make the MVP wildly successful. I don’t think Best Money Moves would be nearly as good if we didn’t have the partnership of some of Caxy’s top people – our project manager Hannah Deason, Jonathan Frankel and others. I’m very grateful for their help.
You've found a way to leverage your knowledge and content in a world where publishing is getting harder and harder. What advice do you have for other writers / experts?
I don’t want to live in a world where there isn’t good journalism, where our public officials and the CEOs of corporations to which we’ve entrusted our entire life savings don’t get a second look or an outside view questioning what they’re doing. I don’t want to live in a world where I only see listicles, infographics, the same thing over and over again.
It’s true that publishing is getting harder and harder. Our publishing institutions, whether print or broadcast, face unique challenges and financial uncertainties. But even though I joke that I’m a “recovering” financial journalist, I still hold journalistic truths to be important. That is, if I’m trying to explain something to somebody, the answer it should be in their best interest, not in my own.
That’s why Best Money Moves is set up with award-winning information designed to do one thing first: Help people solve their financial problems in a way that is smart, easy and fast. It’s also why we’ve asked companies to pay for this, not individuals, many of whom I know can often barely afford to make ends meet at the end of the month.
To other writers out there and experts who wish to leverage their information, I’d say this: Be authentic, be who you are and convey information in a way that helps other people first. Good things will follow.