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Betterment CEO Jon Stein Steps Down


Betterment LLC founder

Jon Stein

is stepping down as chief executive, the investment-advice company said Tuesday. He will be succeeded by

Sarah Kirshbaum Levy,

a former executive of

ViacomCBS Inc.

Ms. Levy, who will assume the job today, will be charged with steering the company to a possible initial public offering over the next few years, said Mr. Stein, who will stay on day-to-day through the end of the month and remain chairman of the board.

Mr. Stein, 41, founded the digital investment advisory company in 2010. The New York based firm manages $25 billion with more than 550,000 customers.

“We have record revenues and despite Covid are seeing growth in all three of our business lines,” which consist of retail investment advice, 401(k)s for small and midsize firms, and a platform for independent investment advisers, Mr. Stein said in an interview. “It feels like a good point to pass the torch.”

His replacement, Ms. Levy, was chief operating officer of ViacomCBS’s media networks from Jan. 2018 to Jan. 2020. The 49-year-old executive served in a variety of roles, including COO at the company’s Nickelodeon unit from 1998 to 2017.

Ms. Levy, who has been a consultant at Betterment since Oct. 1, said her emphasis will be on “evolution, versus revolution” including expanding opportunities for clients to further customize investment portfolios and interact with human advisers.

Regarding the prospect of an IPO, Ms. Levy said “I wouldn’t say it’s too far in the distance,” but before it can happen, “we want a clear path to strong growth and a line of sight into profitability.”

Sarah Kirshbaum Levy (left) will succeed Mr. Stein as CEO and work on a potential IPO.



Photo:

Ben Hider

Spokesman

Joe Ziemer

said Betterment isn’t currently profitable but could be if that was the priority rather than growth.

The company’s value was most recently estimated at $800 million at its last funding round in 2017.

In its digital portfolio advisory service, Betterment charges 0.25% of assets annually. It charges an additional 0.15% for customers who want access to human advisers.

Mr. Stein said he was looking for someone from outside the financial services industry to take Betterment to the next level. Industry insiders often lack the perspective needed “to disrupt services in a more customer-focused direction,” he said.

Mr. Stein said he may play a role in tasks including recruiting and customer events, but wants “to make sure I am not in Sarah’s way.”

“I may have another business in me but it won’t be in financial services.”

Write to Anne Tergesen at anne.tergesen@wsj.com

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the December 9, 2020, print edition as ‘Betterment Founder Resigns From CEO Post.’



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