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Social Entrepreneur

328 EpisodesProduced by Tony LoydWebsite

Social Entrepreneur exists at the intersection of profit and purpose. We tell positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions.


026, Joseph Sanberg, Aspiration | Building Trust by Doing Good

Confidence in many institutions has been falling – Congress, churches, and, financial institutions. More than 90% of Americans surveyed do not trust the Financial Services industry to have their best interests in mind. And, it’s no wonder. When I say Financial Services, what images come to mind? For many people, they think of scenes from the financial crisis that began in 2008. They can see massive layoffs, failing businesses and millions of foreclosed homes.

What they don’t picture is, financial institutions reaping the consequences of their misbehavior. There were no Bernie Madoff-style perp walks or massive fines. Barclay’s bought Lehman Brothers. Bank of America bought Merrill Lynch. Wells Fargo took Wachovia. And the band played on. For many investors, the game seems rigged to serve a small number of financially affluent people.

In this episode of Social Entrepreneur, you’ll meet Joe Sanberg. When Joe was nearing graduation from high school, the bank foreclosed on the mortgage of his parents’ home. The home that Joe grew up in was suddenly no longer theirs. But Joe was one of the lucky ones. He was exceptionally bright and was able to get into Harvard University.

Just over a year ago, Joe and his partner, Andrei Cherny launched Aspiration, a new kind of financial institution. Here are a few ways in which Aspiration is different:

  • You can choose to “pay what is fair” where you choose the fee. Fees are voluntary.
  • Aspiration offers a checking account that pays 1% interest that has no service fees and no ATM fees. Money Magazine named it the best checking account.
  • Aspiration offers a mutual fund, Aspiration Flagship Fund with a $500 minimum buy-in. You can also take your money out of any of Aspiration’s funds on any day without penalty. The Flagship Fund is structured to reduce volatility, making it a comfortable investment for more middle class and younger investors.
  • They also offer Aspiration Redwood Fund, which is a way for young and middle class investors to access sustainable, impact investing. The Redwood Fund negatively screens out companies that go against the sustainability goals of the fund, such as fossil fuel companies and weapons manufacturers. It also positively screens companies that adhere to the recommendations of the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board.
  • And, on top of all of that, Aspiration donates 10% of their revenues to charity.

Keep in mind that, building a financial services company requires a massive amount of working capital, in a complex, competitive and highly regulated industry. So, this is no easy task.

How is Aspiration doing? Well, they are doubling the number of customers about every six weeks.


Also Mentioned in this Episode:

Disclaimer: PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RETURNS. There is no guarantee that any investment product will achieve its objectives, generate profits, or avoid losses. Investing involves risk of loss and alternative investments may not be suitable for everyone. Before investing, consider your investment objectives.

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