In recent weeks an online neo-bank aptly named Aspiration launched a national TV ad campaign. The pitch is distinct and, we think, worthy of attention for the following reasons:
○ Unlike other financial institutions, even those that offer socially responsible products, Aspiration is a financial services firm whose core brand and value proposition is social responsibility. As its mission statement claims, “We didn’t set out to build a bank. We set out to build a better world.” Aspiration is “a new kind of financial partner that puts our customers and their conscience first”
○ In keeping with its mission, Aspiration allows its customers to determine how much they think is a fair fee to pay even if it is zero
○ Aspiration donates 10% of every dollar customers pay in fees to charity
○ Aspiration’s product set offers customers higher checking and savings rates than most banks, even online ones, as well as free ATM access “anywhere in the universe”
○ Aspiration also has two investment options available to both taxable and retirement accounts, a sustainable investing mutual fund and a low volatility mutual fund of funds, taking it beyond what most neo-banks currently offer
Aspiration’s messaging is clear, as is the apparent alignment of its goals and actions with those of its customers. The product set is simple, delivers on value, and reinforces its socially responsible agenda. For these reasons, we believe that Aspiration is a compelling offering and may be a model for alternative financial services firms going forward.