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May 3, 2022

Facilitating income growth will be new trend among financial services providers

A growing number of financial services providers are supporting their customers in their careers reports Mohammed Hasan

By Douglas Blakey

While the rise of fintech platforms and digital banks has democratised almost all aspects of financial services, a trend is beginning to emerge that sees financial services platforms supporting consumers in their careers and increasing their incomes.

Traditionally, financial service providers have helped customers manage costs and grow their capital, focusing on secondary and passive channels of income as opposed to the main source of most people’s livelihoods: their jobs. New fintech platforms are bridging this gap by offering customers access to not only financial education but also job and asset-related support to maximize their incomes.

The most explicit movement in this direction by fintech platforms has been by Acorn, the US-based fintech that specializes in micro- and robo-investing. In 2020, it launched Acorns Job Finder, a platform connecting its 8.2 million customers with new career opportunities, helping them progress in their careers and earn more money and thus enabling them to save and invest more.

Every type of Acorn customer has free access to millions of full-time, part-time, and remote job opportunities, as well as the ability to explore tailor-made career development content to comprehensively support their financial wellness.

To offer such services, Acorn partnered with ZipRecruiter, an online employment marketplace with more than 9 million job postings from over 2 million businesses. This type of partnership is likely to become increasingly common as financial service providers take a more active and direct role in supporting customers’ goals and aspirations.

A similar strategy has been employed by banking giant NatWest in the UK, which has launched ‘Learning with NatWest’, a financial education site that aims to help explain financial management to retail and business customers.

However, besides the usual education offered in terms of understanding products and industry language, NatWest has also dedicated sections of its site to getting promoted, building a personal brand, communicating online, and getting help with interviews – all areas that help customers potentially earn more.

NatWest also offers courses developed by Google’s Digital Garage to help customers learn key digital skills that are increasingly in demand from the current labour market. Such courses are set to become standard as financial service providers take a keener interest in customers’ personal development.

Fellow UK bank Metro Bank has launched a similar initiative whereby it allows residential mortgage customers to rent their properties through Airbnb and similar sites for up to 90 days a year without prior approval. In doing so, it augments its customers’ abilities to earn additional income, supporting their financial position and lifestyle choices.

As the cost to switch provider has decreased and the competition from new entrants has increased, the onus is strongly on providers to support customers in more ways or risk losing the primary account relationship. The likelihood of customers switching if they feel supported and empowered by their provider is far less than if they are offered minimal services that are increasingly being scaled back.

Despite ultra-low unemployment rates on either side of the Atlantic, support for customers post-pandemic remains vital, particularly as inflation increases and the global economy enters a recession. Offering career and asset support to help customers increase their incomes is by no means a simple way for financial service providers to prove their utility to customers, but it opens the door to more profitable long-term relationships. As ambitions of becoming super apps become increasingly prevalent, it is highly likely that partnerships between job search, asset leasing, and education platforms and financial service providers will become standard.

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