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To make financial services work harder for consumers and smarter for businesses.
To help realize an inclusive future where financial services are accessible, affordable and transparent for people and businesses in all corners of society.
Fintech has grown up. What was once a buzzy startup space has risen to meet its potential. Today, fintech is embedded into every industry, delivering products, services and experiences that are integral to people’s lives. Historically, financial services have benefited corporations and the wealthiest individuals, leaving the majority of consumers and businesses underserved for decades. Our clients are helping aspiring homeowners, investors, small businesses and their employees attain their financial objectives—whether it’s gaining approval for a mortgage, mastering how to invest successfully, saving for retirement, or securing investment to fund their growth.
Fintech is now Mission North’s largest practice group by revenue, and has grown by more than 20% annually since 2019. In the past few years, we’ve seen the fintech category evolve and usher in a new class of financial services companies that put people first. Like our clients, we care about the ‘who’ just as much as the ‘how’ in fintech, and we work together closely to put a human face on innovation stories.
<split-lines>“Like our clients, we care about the ‘who’ just as much as the ‘how’ in fintech, and we work together closely to put a human face on innovation stories.”<split-lines>
The business challenges and opportunities facing financial services companies today look very different from those coming out of the Great Recession in 2008, when fintechs were perceived as a revolutionary solution to a clearly broken and untrustworthy system. There is now some backlash as consumers have realized that fintech isn’t a panacea since many of the structural problems these challengers promised to fix still remain unsolved.
In 2022, we’re seeing a rise in consumer demand for transparent, responsibly-designed products and services as well as greater visibility and choice about where people invest their money. The past two years have driven up the adoption of digital financial tools, and today’s consumers are savvier; brands must do more to earn their trust and provide them with the range of options that they expect.
Consumers expect companies to be upfront about their social and environmental impact—and to back up those messages with concrete action. This is the case whether it’s providing transparency into the carbon footprint of cryptocurrency or giving employees the opportunity to choose 401(k) investments to divest from stocks that don’t align with their values. It’s critical that fintech companies demonstrate their values with more than words.
We are also closely watching fintech companies that prioritize access and equity. For example, Esusu reports rent payments to credit bureaus to help renters build their credit scores and work toward home ownership. Payday loans received a bad rap ten years ago, but the gig economy has set a new precedent for same-day payment, and we’re seeing consumers and employers rethink the biweekly paycheck. Companies like Earnin and Even are advocating for ‘earned wage access’ to provide paychecks that work for consumers.
In the world of private companies, we’re excited by the work of our client Hum Capital to make fundraising less about who you know and where you’re located, and more about the underlying value of your business. This type of engagement opens up the playing field for high-potential but overlooked businesses everywhere.
<split-lines>“It’s critical that fintech companies demonstrate their values with more than words.”<split-lines>
Real estate, among the last financial services sectors to benefit from digital transformation, is now home to property technology, one of the hottest areas in fintech. Proptech offers new paths to buying, financing and insuring a home. The low interest rate environment and the rise of remote work flexibility have made for an explosive home-buying market in recent years. Even as interest rates rise, proptech companies are focused on how to further automate processes and ensure that they are efficient and equitable. We’re thrilled to be working with companies like Morty, Goosehead Insurance and ServiceLink to make the experience of buying, selling and insuring a home work better for all consumers.
Embedded finance, or the notion that there is a financial transaction layer in practically every industry, represents a seemingly limitless opportunity for continued fintech innovation. Ride-hailing and food delivery apps are some of the earliest examples of embedded finance, and in recent years this concept is being applied to tackling more complex problems. For example, take point-of-purchase insurance where consumers now have the option to insure their new car or phone within their purchase transaction, simply by checking a box.
Similarly, we’re seeing convergence between fintech and sectors like e-commerce when it comes to how and when customers pay for their purchases. The ultimate vision for embedded finance is to deliver better, more seamless experiences by making the transaction layer invisible to the consumer. We’re excited to see what ‘disappears’ next!
Today’s financial services companies must clear a very high bar to earn and then retain the trust of customers, partners and the media. Technology has made it easier than ever for users to switch service providers with a few clicks. Unless a fintech has built a strong foundation of brand loyalty and trust, they risk losing customers at the first misstep.
It is therefore essential that transparency and trust are at the core of everything a fintech company does—starting with the company’s values and actions, and extending to all communications, from brand messaging to storytelling to customer conversations.
We love partnering with clients who share this world view. We take pride in elevating the work and stories of diverse, bold and brainy entrepreneurs, builders and leaders on a mission to make financial services work harder for consumers and smarter for businesses.
February 14, 2024
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