Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 244. Today we’ll be talking to Jennifer from SoFi about the use case or business case for why her customers choose SoFi.
SoFi’s mission is to help people reach financial independence to realize their ambitions.
Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think. Thanks, William
Show length: 22 minutes
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Jennifer Nuckles is EVP + Group Business Unit Leader at SoFi, which serves as a loyal partner to a fast-growing community of 900+ employer partners through SoFi at Work. SoFi at Work is a holistic and data-driven financial well-being benefits platform that offers a full suite of services, tools, insights, and educational resources tailored to address the unique and evolving needs of each workforce through a dynamic dashboard experience.Follow
Announcer: 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 in recruitment and HR tech. That’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William Tincup: 00:25 Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you’re listening to the Use Case Podcast today. We have Jennifer on, from SoFi at Work, and we’ll be learning about the business case, or the use case, in this particular instance, for why prospects use SoFi at Work. So why don’t we do introductions? Jennifer, would you-
Jennifer Nuckles: 00:45 Great. Thanks so much.
William Tincup: 00:46 … Introduce yourself, and then also SoFi at Work?
Jennifer Nuckles: 00:49 Perfect. Thanks so much, William, for having sure me on to represent SoFi at Work. So probably a little bit of background on myself would be helpful. I’m an executive vice president at SoFi. SoFi is a financial technology company with a mission to help people reach financial independence, and we have about three and a half million members, 17 million users, and we’ve been around about a decade.
Jennifer Nuckles: 01:16 In 2016, we launched SoFi at Work, and SoFi at Work partners with 1000 employers. We represent 16 million cumulative lives across a series of industries, various sizes of companies, education level, and really what we do is we bring all of the financial instruments to the employee populations through these partnerships, and we launched a data-driven financial wellbeing benefits platform that really offer the full suite of services to all of our HR partners.
William Tincup: 01:48 So let’s unpack the instruments first. So the full bevy of instruments, what do we have access to with the financial instruments?
Jennifer Nuckles: 01:57 Yeah, it’s a really great question. So think about the core benefits offering that employers typically offer their employees. There would be insurance benefits, which would include medical insurance, predominantly. There would be retirement benefits such as 401k’s, paid time off and kind of other benefits around like subsidized childcare, legal services.
Jennifer Nuckles: 02:20 What we’ve seen over the past eight to 10 years is that the benefits world has drastically changed, and certainly over the past two years during COVID and the pandemic, HR leaders have had to face a myriad of challenges they’ve never before faced in their professional tenure. And so when you look at what benefits are being sought now by employees and employers, they’re much more on a holistic suite of benefits around financial wellness.
Jennifer Nuckles: 02:49 And so what SoFi offers is supplements to those kind of traditional benefits I mentioned, so even in the insurance case, for example, we offer life insurance. Within the retirement example, we offer the ability to contribute to your student loans and get an employee match through your 401k. And then we offer a whole suite of financial wellness benefits that include financial planning, education assistance, debt management, budgeting, liquidity planning, and other perks. And so what we really do is make sure that we offer benefits to employees across the full spectrum of their needs, so debt savings, debt management, buying a home, and peace of mind.
William Tincup: 03:33 So one of the things I wanted to ask you about is the literacy, financial literacy. Not taught in middle school, or high school or college. In most cases, probably taught by your family, if you had that benefit. But how do y’all look at financial literacy for the folks that you serve?
Jennifer Nuckles: 03:56 Yeah, it’s really an emerging trend. A number of states have actually passed requirements that high school graduates have to be adept in financial literacy [inaudible 00:04:07] you mentioned-
William Tincup: 04:07 Thank goodness.
Jennifer Nuckles: 04:09 Yeah, none of our kids know how to do this, right? I have three school-age children who are just learning the benefits of planning for their debt and the appropriate spending against their budget. So the way that we think about this is it’s really a myriad of insights and content and education that’s distinctly distilled down to our HR partners and their employee level. Because as you can imagine, the workforce of a law firm is drastically different than the workforce of a retail center, and so there’s different needs that are emerging across each of the employee populations.
Jennifer Nuckles: 04:46 So what we do is we have financial planning education that’s offered by certified financial planners. We have personalized financial planning based on the employee’s stage of life, whether they’ve graduated from college, bought their first home, are looking to refi the home, if they’ve had a new family addition. We provide basic money management tools and budgeting. We provide credit score monitoring so that people who haven’t been able to secure credit have a number of tools and techniques in their toolkit that allow them to age up in credit and then secure the lending sources they would need for their future and their financial independence.
Jennifer Nuckles: 05:25 So everything is very tailored to the individual employee level, and this has become really important, especially over the past two years as financial stresses are really exacerbated, and both employees and employers are facing this.
William Tincup: 05:42 Do you see, either now or in the future, the product having a coaching component?
Jennifer Nuckles: 05:48 Mm-hmm. Yeah, it’s a great question. So we do that through our certified financial planners. We also have a product that’s called Relay, which is a personal financial management platform. It’s one of the products of my portfolio, and what Relay does is provide a snapshot of exactly what’s going on with an individual’s money. So for example, over the past month, you have saved this much. Other people in your life stage or demographic are saving at this benchmark, so you can kind of compare yourself to what the recommendation is at your stage of life. The certified financial planners are free access, which is a huge coup for employers, because it’s very difficult to get access to certified financial planners. This comes with our service to all of our partners, and our members set up appointments with the CFPs to really develop personalized financial independence plans.
William Tincup: 06:42 I love that, on both sides and being able to solve it, because sometimes the questions are questions that the internet’s not going to solve for you. It’s should I lease a vehicle, or should I buy a vehicle?
Jennifer Nuckles: 06:54 Right.
William Tincup: 06:55 Right? And I think a CFP, or even your other product, you can have someone that can contextualize that for you.
Jennifer Nuckles: 07:03 Yeah, it’s a really good point. All of those kind of financial instruments have changed over the recent months. Think about that vehicle question. A vehicle, outside of your home, is typically one of your most expensive assets that you own. And now, for the first time in history, there’s so much equity that’s built up in used cars that, through Relay, for example, we offer an auto tracker, so people know how much equity they have built up in this asset, whether it makes sense to refi it, whether it makes sense to sell it. And this is all personal to that employee’s data because you, William, would enter, you know, “I have a 2012 X car. This is how many miles.” It’s all personalized to your snapshot.
William Tincup: 07:44 Oh, I love that. So consumption wise, because you can look across all of what’s going on, at least on the aggregate, at SoFi at Work, what’s being consumed? When you look at everything that’s being offered, what are employees, what are they using the most?
Jennifer Nuckles: 08:04 It’s a really great question. So SoFi’s genesis was in the student loan refinancing business. This was about 10 years ago, and we saw that people refinanced their student loans, predominantly at that point it was law school debt and medical school debt, and then they had such an affinity towards SoFi that they started taking out other SoFi products. We extended our lending products to personal loans, home loans, both refis and new purchases, and then we launched a series of transactional products, which include checking and savings products, investment products, credit cards, and then we have insurance and a consumer finance marketplace where we offer every consumer instrument that consumers would need.
Jennifer Nuckles: 08:49 And what we’re seeing across the spectrum in the employee market is there’s a number of new benefits that employees are really taking advantage of. These are emergency savings funds, retirement matching, or 401k matching, financial planning tools, as you just rightly noted, budget planning tools, and homeowner assistance. And it’s really interesting, because our HR partners are noting that these are the benefits that their emerging workforce are actually seeking. So kind of gone are the days of those traditional benefits. Now, actually, workers believe that their HR partners have the obligation and the responsibility to help the employee on their road to financial independence. And the HR partner notices this, because they, we just ran a study which we can go through, 81% of the HR partners believe workers are more likely to take a job with a company that offers financial wellbeing benefits. So this is no longer kind of a nice to have. This is an expectation in the war for talent.
William Tincup: 09:51 It’s almost becoming table stakes on some level.
Jennifer Nuckles: 09:55 That’s right.
William Tincup: 09:56 How do you suggest that they market this in terms of candidates? Well, market consumption internally? So we could actually do that two ways. With employees, one of the pains historically with EAPs in particular is they have a benefit, they don’t know that they have a benefit, and they don’t take advantage of the benefit. So the benefit kind of sits there on the vine, and then every year it just kind of sits there. So internally, what’s the best way to think about marketing the benefits that employees have available to them? And then externally, what do y’all suggest in terms of their careers page or job descriptions or the way that they think about candidates, and how they market the benefits that they have?
Jennifer Nuckles: 10:46 Yeah, you’re right. I’ve worked in employee benefits for a very long time and-
William Tincup: 10:50 Bless you.
Jennifer Nuckles: 10:52 It’s really important. And I really feel for all of my HR partners, as their job has only become more complicated, most specifically, over the past two years. Predominantly, employees go to a benefits page once a year, maybe, if they’re signing up for benefits. There’s a myriad of choices that are available to them. It’s pretty confusing, especially when you think about this outside of your day job. So the onus is really on the HR partner to ensure that the employees not only know about the benefits, but that they’re taking advantage of the appropriate benefits for their life stage.
Jennifer Nuckles: 11:27 One big thing that we’ve seen with our HR partners is what’s known as ECP programs. So these are employer contribution programs, and what the employer does here is they put some money into the funding of the program for the benefit of their employee. This is calculated in a non-wage compensation, so it’s included in the total benefits package. But what it means, for example, is that your employer will either match or put some money into an emergency savings account, or match the dollars that are going into the pay down of student loans, which there was new legislation that was recently passed which allowed for $5,250 of this to be tax free to the employee.
Jennifer Nuckles: 12:10 So there’s a number of tools the HR team has at their fingertips right now which is making these benefits more attractive to the end user. And what we’re seeing from our HR partners is that they’re really competing in this war for talent right now, and the attrition numbers and the changes in the workforce are only becoming more acute. And so they’re hosting sessions with employees, we do a lot of these together in the form of AMAs, or we host webinars. They’re communicating monthly to the employees with specific promotions, as well as the communication around the benefits. So it’s really essential to be top of mind for the employee.
Jennifer Nuckles: 12:51 And then when you think about external, these are really important communications that employers can have to make them differentiated in market. So when you think about employees that are choosing mission-based companies, or employees that are choosing companies that really have their best interests in mind, these are benefits that make the employer really stand apart. And the outcomes that we focus on driving are reduction in absenteeism, reduction in churn, improvement in credit scores across the employee base, the ability for employees to take out mortgages and be financially independent. So we provide all of this data to our HR partners in the form of personalized dashboards that they can use in their recruitment, as well as retention efforts.
William Tincup: 13:42 I love it. Let’s pivot to the practitioner side, and some of the things that we try to do on the podcast to help them. One is when you, or obviously your team demos the full array of SoFi at Work, which could be a bit overwhelming for someone, what do you love showing folks? What do you love showing practitioners?
Jennifer Nuckles: 14:08 Yeah. So everything within SoFi is available both on the web, as well as the mobile app. So if you think about a computer in your pocket, it’s pretty compelling to think about doing all of your financial needs right from the convenience of your mobile phone. And so what we do when we meet with our HR partners, when we’re talking to prospective clients, is we demo the program through the mobile device, and then we’ll show them both the user experience as well as the HR partner experience, because as I mentioned, the HR partner has access to all of the dashboards and all of the backend tools. And we release every month engagement reports to our HR partners, so they can see, at an aggregate level, we’re very, very attuned with PHI, so employee specific data, so we aggregate it all to share with the employers. They can see how their employee base is performing.
Jennifer Nuckles: 15:04 And so what I really love doing is showing the employer what their user experience will be for their employee. And you go into the SoFi app, you have your personalized credit score for William. You see your property that has been added into the property tracker, so you know how much debt you have. You also know how much equity you have in the property. You have your car added, as I mentioned, you have your credit cards all linked so you can see what your outstanding debt balance is. You have your bank accounts linked. You have everything in one snapshot. You also can see, okay, last month I spent this much on subscriptions, or I spent this much on my auto loan. Oh, it might be time for you to refi it, and it would save you this much per month. So everything’s very customized. It’s a very surprise and delight moment for the HR partner as they can see that this isn’t just a one size fits all. It’s really tailored to their employee base.
William Tincup: 15:57 I love that, because that highly personalized, everybody’s got their own situation going on and that can change hour to hour, minute to minute.
Jennifer Nuckles: 16:05 Yeah.
William Tincup: 16:06 So it’s also in real time, so it’s highly personalized, but it’s also, things can change and do change, so I love that. Questions practitioners should ask of you and SoFi at Work? So let’s assume either they have something and they’re not necessarily using it, or using it well, or they don’t have something, and they need something because they’re getting creamed from candidates asking for it and them not having it, and getting creamed in the war for talent. So what questions should they be asking of your team at SoFi?
Jennifer Nuckles: 16:43 Yeah. So the way I think about this is when we go into diligence, it’s really important for me to understand what’s most important to that individual practitioner. So are they looking to stop churn? Are they looking for employees to purchase houses because their workforce has been kind of transient during the pandemic? Are they looking for their employees to have direct deposit capabilities, because that makes it more efficient for them and they don’t have to deal with as many subcontractors?
Jennifer Nuckles: 17:15 So it’s really important for me to understand how the HR partner values success and what outcome they’re looking to drive. And then what is also important, I think, for the HR partner to ask me is what’s the a la carte menu that I should select from based off of what you know on my population? For example, we work with the largest consumer packaged goods company in the United States. If you look at that workforce, it’s geographically distributed, it’s pretty disparate in terms of the workforce that’s in headquarters versus the workforce that is working retail.
Jennifer Nuckles: 17:51 So there’s different benefits that apply to each of those groups, and I would want my HR partner to develop the benefit plan that meets each specific need, versus a one size fits all. And in that way we develop the SoFi at Work platform that says, okay, we’re going to have paid time off conversion, for example, because we know that a big component of your workforce has accumulated paid time off and they should put those dollars to work. It’s something that would help them in the immediate term save money. Or we should launch tuition reimbursement with you, because we know that a number of your workforce is looking to skill up and take on additional responsibilities. Or we have 529 accounts, because we know that your workforce is planning for their children to go to college.
Jennifer Nuckles: 18:40 So there’s so much that SoFi at Work offers. It’s really a reduction of these single-point solutions that HR partners have had to be dealing with for 10, 20 years. They can have it all with SoFi at Work, and we customize the offering for the individual account.
William Tincup: 18:55 I love it. So lastly is success stories, and this is kind of a twist on, without brand names and companies and stuff like that, but just where folks have used SoFi at Work and it just thrills you. Like, you’re just happy that they’re using it, maybe even in unexpected ways, but they’re using it, their employees are using it in ways, and you’re just like, okay, this is why we get up and this is why we go to work to [inaudible 00:19:23].
Jennifer Nuckles: 19:23 Yeah, absolutely. So as I mentioned, we started predominantly in the MBA field, the legal field, because these are people who had employees who had graduated with a high amount of student debt. For example, we work with more than 120 law firms. It’s interesting to me to see how those law firms have evolved over the past five years, and they’re beginning to think more holistically about financial wellness and where student debt fits in.
Jennifer Nuckles: 19:48 But when I get up in the morning and I’m super enthused, I look at right now at healthcare. So healthcare is the fastest growing industry within our networks. It’s very similar to the legal industry in that advanced degrees are required, so it means that employer contribution programs are effective. However, what we’ve really seen is within the medical field, there’s continuing education courses, there’s certifications that are required, and the companies that employ these workers see really long-term value, from recruitment of new grads who are staying all the way through retention of seasoned employees.
Jennifer Nuckles: 20:24 So I love seeing the newly minted medical school graduate, who at this point is going through their residency, isn’t able to purchase a house, has a high amount of student debt, you know, three years later, is purchasing a house. Two years later, has gotten married, had a new baby. We give them SoFi life insurance. A couple years later they’re refi-ing their car through SoFi. They have a little bit more disposable income, so they’re starting to invest through SoFi Invest. You can really see the early ambassador coming out of medical school and staying all the way through when they’re more financially independent, and they have brand longevity with SoFi for life
William Tincup: 21:05 Just for my edification, health benefits are different, right?
Jennifer Nuckles: 21:10 Yeah.
William Tincup: 21:10 Health benefits are different than, obviously, than financial benefits?
Jennifer Nuckles: 21:14 That’s right.
William Tincup: 21:14 Do y’all partner with all the different folks that do health benefits?
Jennifer Nuckles: 21:19 So we do a couple of different things. So within the benefit ecosystem, we have APIs and technical APIs, and we work with all of the different benefit providers within the employer spectrum. So for example, employers often have life insurance and supplemental life insurance. SoFi offers private life insurance, so those can work in conjunction with each other. We have accident insurance, we have auto and home insurance, 401k partners.
Jennifer Nuckles: 21:49 One of our largest partners is T. Rowe Price. We do this because we can, as I mentioned, we can take some of those dollars that are put towards student loans and the employer would match them into a 401k match. So we work with all of the existing partners. It’s a nice complement. What we do is we provide the single financial services benefits, and those are on everything, from college savings accounts, identity theft protection, and kind of all those money management tools that I’d mentioned.
William Tincup: 22:20 I love it. I love it. I love the work you’re doing, Jennifer. Thank you so much for coming on the Use Case podcast.
Jennifer Nuckles: 22:24 Yeah, it was really enjoyable. Thanks for having me.
William Tincup: 22:27 Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the Use Case podcast. Until next time.
Announcer: 22:32 You’ve been listening to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case podcast. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform and hit us up at recruitingdaily.com.
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.