Storytelling About BrightPlan With Marthin De Beer

Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 171. This week we have storytelling about BrightPlan with Marthin De Beer. During this episode, Marthin and I talk about how practitioners make the business case or the use case for purchasing BrightPlan.

Marthin is an expert in all things business and leadership. His passion for delivering business results through innovation and operational excellence really comes through during the podcast.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.

Thanks, William

Show length: 28 minutes

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Marthin De Beer
Founder & CEO BrightPlan

As an experienced executive, Marthin is passionate about delivering business results through innovation and operational excellence. He enjoys working with and motivating great people to achieve audacious goals. Marthin believes that leadership really matters and is at his best leading great teams working on difficult problems. He loves to help customers solve their toughest challenges using leading-edge technology solutions.

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Music:  00:02

Welcome to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case Podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens or should happen when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better as we speak with the brightest minds and recruitment in HR tech. That’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

William:  00:23

Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you are listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today, we have Marthin on from BrightPlan and we’ll be learning about the use case, the business case for why his customers and prospects, why they purchase BrightPlan and what they do. So really excited to learn. Martin, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and BrightPlan?

Marthin:  00:51

Certainly William and thank you so much for having me on, it’s great to be with you. So my name is Marthin De Beer, I started BrightPlan a few years ago, really with financial wellness in mind. Financial wellness is a universal need, I’d like to say money is everyone’s problem. And it’s comparable to having access to quality healthcare and education. Everyone needs it. And yet we don’t even provide basic financial literacy to our kids when they grow up.

Marthin:  01:21

So, people get well educated, they work really hard and they struggle for life with money. We see it all the time. And so, that’s really why I started BrightPlan. In my personal instance, I also observed how financial stress can lead to physical and mental health challenges in my family. And so that’s what drove me to do something about this major problem.

Marthin:  01:50

So BrightPlan is a total financial wellness solution that provides both employers and their employees with the tools and resources that they need to achieve financial success. It’s very inclusive. We’ve built a great service that meets everyone where they are and yet puts them on a very personalized journey to achieve their financial goals.

Marthin:  02:13

From an employer perspective, BrightPlan also helps employers with dealing with several issues. We live in an age of unprecedented change, I’d like to say disruptions often lead to great innovation that transforms industries. Well, we’ve seen work being disrupted in a major way with the pandemic and employers today are struggling with attracting and retaining top talent. They’re struggling with employee engagement, holistic wellbeing and diversity equity and inclusion is a major challenge for them as well.

Marthin:  02:48

So BrightPlan really comes to the table, helping both the employees deal with financial stress and achieving financial wellness, but also the employers with the issues that I’ve mentioned.

William:  03:01

So, where do we start with financial literacy? Again, I love the phrase and meeting them where they are, let’s move with the employers and the employees meeting them where they are. But what do you think are the building blocks of financial literacy? Where do you like to start with folks and make sure then you can progress depending on again, where they are and what they need.

Marthin:  03:28

Yes, William. We do five things at BrightPlan for the employee. Firstly, we provide personalized education. Secondly, goals based planning. Thirdly, investment advice, and automated investing. And then fourthly, helping them manage the entire ecosystem of their personal finances, understanding their spending and giving them a budget. And then lastly providing them with that human touch of a human advisor so that when they do have a life event or they need to go much deeper than what the digital service can be for them, they have unlimited access to a human advisor to help them.

Marthin:  04:09

And by doing those five things really, really well in a very scalable manner, we are able to help people on their personal journey. So back to your question on financial literacy, we have developed content over the last several years that are bite size in nature. They are easy to consume and they get served up to you as you plan and explore your finances in our mobile app or our web app.

Marthin:  04:41

And so, as you, for instance, create a goal to buy a home, we then start educating you around that goal and what it means. But we also do deep analysis on your transactions and your financial data once you link all of your financial accounts to BrightPlan and we know only show that all to you in a common view, but we also can spot gaps or deficiencies through our data analytics in our software.

Marthin:  05:12

And again, we surface then the relevant information to you and the education to you right there in the flow and in the experience that the client has. We feel that’s very important because your journey is different from mine. And it is a lifelong journey. You may struggle with the same challenge I do but not at the same time in your journey.

Marthin:  05:37

And so, we spent a great deal of time developing our software in a way where we are almost hyper personalized and yet very deep on understanding you and helping you achieve financial success.

William:  05:54

It’s interesting because we have this under our budget, it categorizes this financial wellness, so there’s wellness and then there’s all kinds of different things that go under that. But really, you could also see where people would use this as an engagement, an employee engagement or even a learning application as well, be able to take budget from other places.

William:  06:18

Have some of your customers thought about the ways to pay for this. So at one point you have to pay for BrightPlan and it could come out of the obviously out of the wellness budget or out of the financial wellness budget. But it just seems to me that it could be paid for in some other ways as well.

Marthin:  06:35

Absolutely. Let me give you a few data points. First of all, we conducted a wellness barometer survey across 1500 HR professionals, and we also included some employees in that survey. And what we have found is that employees stress cost employers and average of 4.7 billion per week in the US due to lost productivity and engagement.

Marthin:  07:02

65% of employees are stressed about their finances, and by the way, right now, this year, it is the highest on record that we’ve seen. 86% of HR professionals agree that the financial stress of the pandemic has herp employee engagement. So people are not engaged and of course on top of that, they’re not in the office and engagement is even harder in that kind of an environment.

Marthin:  07:28

But we’ve also seen that mental health has declined for 30% of employees. And research has shown William that, there’s a direct correlation between financial stress with your mental health and your physical health. And that is a major challenge that employers are trying to solve because if their employees are not well, in all dimensions of their lives, then they cannot deliver what the employer expect.

Marthin:  07:59

So if the employer can get ahead of this problem, be proactive about it and bring holistic wellbeing to the employee, there’s a huge return on that investment for them. And in fact, we have an ROI calculator that we use with employers with their data to show them that the service pay for itself. But I can also tell you that the benefits that a better benefit, sorry, better benefits can have a very positive impact to motivate employees.

Marthin:  08:31

So let me give you some additional data points, 93% of employees say that access to enhanced employer benefits would have a positive of impact. 29% of employees ranked financial wellness as a top benefit they want post-pandemic and about 50% would work harder and feel more financially secure and be more engaged and productive. And 30% would be more committed and stay longer with their employer.

Marthin:  08:58

And then lastly, we have found that 94% of HR leaders say that companies need to make major updates to their benefit programs to keep employees happy. So, as I said before, often a major market disruption will give people pause and they are then, it’s the catalyst for innovation. They start thinking differently about how to solve challenges that often has lingered for years but it was under the surface.

Marthin:  09:28

Now it’s been brought to the surface and we are seeing employers taking real step they’re. They’re not asking us to prove that the service pays for itself, even though we can do that but they’re really saying help us understand what the investment will mean for me.

William:  09:43

Yeah. It’s interesting because you’ve tied together stress, mental health, productivity engagement. And you’ve basically said at the center of this is people understanding of where they are financially and how they navigate and travail whatever they have to navigate and travail. So I love that.

William:  10:04

And I love the fact that you’ve got a calculator because at one point or another, people do, they need to actually justify, they’ve got to figure out how to pay for the things. So I love that. What do you think the opposite side, the employee’s expectation? Do you think that the employee’s expectation is now, has it changed in the sense of that they need this whether or not they know it or not that they need this at work, they need something like this to then help them navigate these things?

William:  10:42

Have you seen with some of your customers that the employees have actually changed and they want something different out of companies?

Marthin:  10:49

Yeah. That’s a great question, William and I’ll tell you, in the past, pre-pandemic especially as you look back, employers have stepped up to the plate in some extent, whether it’s a 401k with a much that they deliver or an employee stock purchase plan or other benefits that can help the employee financially. Of course, they’re paying them a salary and perhaps a bonus that’s also obviously important.

Marthin:  11:18

But what research have shown is that it’s not your day-to-day, week to week, month to month income that ultimately builds wealth, but is it is how you apply that income that builds long term wealth and success. And yet, not only are most people not financially literate. In fact, in our survey that we’ve done, we asked four basic financial literacy questions and only one third of employees could answer those four questions accurately. And it was a multiple choice, it wasn’t anything really difficult.

Marthin:  11:56

So, people struggle with basic financial literacy but beyond that, the financial services industry is highly fragmented and often it’s filled with potholes that you can step into because there’s so many people selling you a product and trying to make money off of you, that people don’t even understand that they’re getting sold something versus really getting great advice.

Marthin:  12:23

And so, to navigate that ecosystem for anyone is really, really difficult. And that is a big part of the challenge. I mean, we see seeing people with PhDs that really struggle with finances because of what I’ve just described. So what we do for the employee, is we give them one place where their entire financial life comes together.

Marthin:  12:47

They get a single pane of glass, if you will, where they can see all of their accounts, all of their transactions in on format. They can see their short term and their long term financial goals in one place. And it’s connected, we connect the dots for them. We help them understand what they’re spending. When I sometimes ask someone, “Do you know what you spent in the last year?” They may have a very rough estimate of that but then you say, “Well, what were your main categories of spending?” And they have no idea. People don’t know where their money is going.

Marthin:  13:19

So we help them in an automated way, understand what they’ve spent and where their spending is going. But then we also automatically build a budget for them so they can start tracking their spending going forward. So we’ve used software, not just to connect all the dots for them and give them one place where they can live their financial life and be successful but we also, bring great insights to them in that, through the mobile and web app solution.

Marthin:  13:51

So that for instance, they can see how their money’s invested and we give them advice on all their investments. We help them understand not just that they have a 401k but we tell them very specifically, based on their personal goals and assumptions, how they should invest and which funds and what percentage of which funds they should invest in their 401k.

Marthin:  14:13

And so, this is all included in the service and it’s paid for by the employer. So it’s a tremendous benefit. And the way I think about it is, it’s really putting what the employee already offer, which is a great portfolio of benefits. But we put that in high gear for the employee. We help them understand which of those benefits they should select, how they should apply them and how they should apply all the investments the employer is making in them from a financial perspective so that they get the optimal outcomes for them and their family. And that’s what financial wellness in my mind is all about.

William:  14:49

So, some of the components and some of these are going to be within the platform and not, but so like wealth management, savings, investment, managing one’s credit, where are the lines of demarcation with BrightPlan? Where do you stay centered, or where do you… is that something that you don’t do currently, or you might do in the future, et cetera?

Marthin:  15:14

Yeah. So, as I’ve said, we have a rich content library for education, so that’s all delivered by BrightPlan. We, every two weeks on a Friday, we have an event called finance Fridays where all of our clients attend and we have hundreds, sometimes thousands of people attending based on the topic. And they just participate in listen in for 30 minutes over lunch on Friday. And we do very custom webinars also for employers based on their benefit portfolio.

Marthin:  15:46

So, we are engaged from an education perspective not just in the digital experience but also outside the digital experience with more of a human touch, working with the employers closely. Then I’ve talked about goals based planning, and this is a simple set of questions and employee answer as they plan for their major life goals. And we help them with that.

Marthin:  16:10

I’ve mentioned investing. Both investment advice for any investment account you may have but you can also let BrightPlan in an automated way, manage money for you at a very low cost. And so, we are the first digital advisor to be certified by CEFEX. CEFEX is the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence. They ordered us every year, look at all the advice we provide and we get re-certified for excellence as a fiduciary.

Marthin:  16:41

And that’s really important for the employer, William, because they can now rely on a third party to ensure that the advice we provide to their employees is always in the employees best interest. And you know when it comes to investing, that’s where the world is often fraught with danger. But we do, one of my core beliefs have always been that not just wealthy people should have access to great fiduciary advice, everyone should have access.

Marthin:  17:12

But the tragic in all of that has been that you needed at least a million dollars that you could invest before you can get access to that great advice. We’ve now democratized great fiduciary investment and financial advice for everybody with very, very… For $500 minimum, you can open a bright pan investment account and get great advice.

Marthin:  17:35

And then I’ve mentioned the day-to-day financial management and access to human advisor but outside of that, we have also partnered with some top tier service providers that through BrightPlan employees can get access to. For instance, we’ve partnered with Ernst & Young on tax prep and specific tax advice. So employees through BrightPlan can get a discounted rate when they work with Ernst & Young for those solutions.

Marthin:  18:05

We have also, we’re providing often something that is really perhaps not urgent but super important is having a comprehensive state plan in place, not just in world but-

William:  18:18

Good call.

Marthin:  18:18

Not every… That’s right but which attorney do you go to? I mean, people just have to figure it out themselves. But again, through BrightPlan, click through, you can get access to one of our partners that deliver this service. And for a few hundred dollars with licensed attorneys in every state, you can get a full state plan developed for you.

Marthin:  18:41

And then lastly, a lot of people’s struggle with student debt. So again, through a click through service partner we have, you can get great advice on your student loans and what you can refinance into potentially to get better outcomes. So those are… There’s so much there I can talk about William, but I hope that gives you a [inaudible 00:19:05].

William:  19:04

Oh yeah. Well, again, you started with it at the beginning, it’s increasing the literacy. We need to, especially here in the States but personal finance isn’t taught in middle school or high school and so it’s taught at home or it’s not taught at all. So not shocking, not shocking, not shocking. People at work might not have as much knowledge about just their own personal finances or any of these concepts.

William:  19:37

What I love about it is, you’re on a mission to then make sure that everyone has access. You said democratize, which I love, but you’re giving everyone access to this knowledge of saying, Hey, listen, it’s hard for everyone but there’s a way to make this easier and you’re bringing financial literacy up for everyone.

William:  19:58

Two questions left. One is around the demo and people first see the software. So once you’ve talked to somebody at one point your team, you got to go through some type of demo or show them what BrightPlan looks like. What are some of the aha moments, what are some of the points where they look at the software and they just fall in love with it?

Marthin:  20:21

Yeah. That’s the part I enjoy most because it’s actually a complex sale for us, we sell to the employer and with all due respect to HR professionals, they’re not always financial experts.

William:  20:38

Understatement. Yes.

Marthin:  20:40

And yet they know they have a lot of empathy and compassion for their employees because they see them struggle, they see them come take loans against their 401k which they shouldn’t do but they do, so they know people need help. But when we show the platform to the HR buyers, their eyes light up because they can immediately see how in one place an employee can find help for all of their financial needs.

Marthin:  21:10

And if there’s something they need help with that is not addressed through the digital solution, then they can talk with a human advisor one-on-one and go very, very deep on that life event they may just have experienced. The other thing we’ve done, William, that I’m really excited about is we give access not just to the employee but also to their spouse and their dependent children.

William:  21:35

Oh, cool. I was going to ask you that.

Marthin:  21:37


William:  21:38

That’s wonderful. A lot of folks don’t do that. That’s truly unique.

Marthin:  21:44

Exactly because this is how we get kids to start getting educated and start seeing their spending and understanding and start living with a budget in mind. And so that’s something that we added recently that is getting [inaudible 00:22:01] rewards but very, very positive feedback from our customers.

Marthin:  22:06

The other thing we’ve added to our service that is often neglected I feel is the surviving spouse. If an employee passes away or the employee loses a spouse, often, especially if the person that passed is the one that looked after the finances, the other person is often lost and really does know where to turn during a time when they desperately need help.

Marthin:  22:32

And so, as part of our service also free of charge, we include support for that surviving spouse. So we spend up to 10 hours with them walking them through one of our, not me, but one of our very experienced financial advisors will sit down with them, spend time with them and help them think through next steps and what they need to be doing, and can also connect them with additional referral service providers if they need very specific help.

Marthin:  23:02

And then lastly also, just helping them understand the great benefits many employers already offer during a time like that, which a lot of employees are not even aware of. And the HR teams frankly, does not have the bandwidth to do. So that is the other part of what I feel we’ve done where it truly goes to the heart of why I started BrightPlan is to have, well, let me back up.

Marthin:  23:32

When I started this company, William, I told myself, I worked for several Fortune 500 companies as a senior executive and I basically said, in the last third of my career, I want to do something that has purpose and significance. And the way I define purpose is helping a lot of people, potentially millions of people get access to the right tools and information to become financially well. But then secondly, all because financial stress can often tear families apart.

Marthin:  24:09

So also then, the significance part of it is, how do we have a generational effect so that not just the parents but also the children and perhaps their children will live productive, happy lives and achieve financial success. So that’s why we’ve gone this extra step to include spouses and dependents as well as even surviving spouses during that time of need.

William:  24:37

Well, it’s again, getting to, well, first of all, I love the way that you’ve positioned the way that you started the company because it is making a difference, can make people lives a lot better, excuse me. But what I love about the democratization and also access, so giving spouses and children access to it, you’re expanding that aperture of who you can help. And I hadn’t even really thought about the surviving spouses but that’s again, people suffer in silence on all sides. And it’s not just the spouse but it’s the folks that have to put the pieces together after someone passes.

William:  25:28

And again, having some insight into what’s going on and then how to navigate that is super, super helpful. Last question and it’s just curiosity more than anything else is just some of your most recent or in an innovative story where a customer is used BrightPlan without brand names or company names of course, but just something that you’ve loved that they’ve done with BrightPlan that you either thought of, or you hadn’t thought of quite yet but just something that they’ve done that you really like?

Marthin:  26:01

Yeah, gosh, there’s a lot but the comments we get from employees when we do our surveys and the reviews I do with the HR teams is always my biggest reward when I hear their feedback. And one of the things we did recently with a very large Fortune 100 company, in fact, they are arguably the most successful software company out there. They have a great focus on DE&I and inclusion is absolutely paramount for them, including for their founder.

Marthin:  26:36

And so what we have done is we have partnered with them and we are spending time with their employee resource groups, they have a group called bold, which is their black community. They have a variety of groups. We just last week had a webinar on ESPP for women. And this is again an affinity group of women inside of the company and we had 1000 people register for that one event.

Marthin:  27:07

So, what we are doing to bring inclusiveness to the workplace so that everyone can have an equal opportunity to be successful and even partnering with those specific affinity groups so that we can go even deeper to address the challenges that is specific to that affinity group has also been a great one for us.

Marthin:  27:29

And something that the employer asked us about and we immediately said yes and there was no additional charge, and it’s yielding great results for us and for them. So that would be a good example.

William:  27:44

I love that. [inaudible 00:27:45] and a wonderful way to take out the show. Martin, thank you so much for coming on the Use Case Podcast. I absolutely appreciate you carving out time for us and breaking down and getting us to understand BrightPlan.

Marthin:  28:00

Thank you William, much appreciated.

William:  28:02

Absolutely. And to everyone listening to the Use Case Podcast, thank you so much and we’ll see you next time.

Music:  28:08

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The Use Case Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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