On January 30, 2018 SpringFour CEO Rochelle Gorey had the opportunity to speak at the Alight Innovation Day on a panel featuring start-ups. Alight, a leader in technology-enabled health, wealth, HR and finance solutions, held an Innovation Summit for it’s top 100 global leaders at 1871. The day acted as a source of inspiration for Alight leaders to think creatively and to learn about innovative products and ideas.
Rochelle was joined on a panel by Heather Holmes, Cofounder & CEO of Genivity, Amanda Greenberg from Balloonr and Andy Abbot from Heretik. The panelists shared their “Founder’s Story” and talked about entrepreneurship and the vision behind their companies. It is always exciting to join in these conversations, to share how SpringFour is innovating in this space, and learn from others.
Financial wellness is becoming an important part of benefit packages employers can offer their employees. Thinking about innovative solutions in this space is one way that Alight is changing the way companies think about HR benefits. This panel highlighted some of the new ways start-ups are addressing the need for employers to think about innovative ways to offer employee benefits. SpringFour was excited to be a part of the discussion and to have the opportunity to introduce the way we are able to impact individual people’s lives and increase their financial wellness, while helping our business partners at the same time.
Katie Gottschall Donohue, Vice President, Strategy and Operations
SpringFour Co-Founder and CEO, Rochelle Gorey, recently dropped in on the new podcast, “The Broad Cast”. Host Becky Carroll brought together Rochelle, Jessica Williams, Co-Facilitator of 1871’s WiSTEM Program, and fellow WiSTEM grad Tiffany Mikell, CEO/CTO of AerialSpaces.
“The Broad Cast” in a new monthly podcast launched by C-Strategies, that features women making an impact on Chicago and their communities through business, civic engagement, and other means. On this episode the women discussed the WiSTEM program, women founders, and supporting women in tech. Topics covered include how women are still underrepresented in STEM, with women holding only 24% of STEM jobs, and how WiSTEM aided in helping SpringFour and AerialSpaces to grow.
Rochelle talked about how WiSTEM has been great in a variety of ways including ”giving exposure to women founders and CEOs” and building a strong group of women founders in STEM to support and collaborate. SpringFour definitely saw the benefits of participating in the program, having had a fantastic 2017, and continuing to build a great network. Rochelle also shared her unique path to STEM; seeing a problem and wanting to solve it and help people in financial distress led to SpringFour. “I see technology as a way to get where you want to go. If you have a vision you can create the right technology to get you to your goal.”
We were really excited to be a part of the podcast. Listen to the full episode here.
Photo: Tiffany Mikell, Becky Carroll, Rochelle Gorey, and Jessica Williams
Katie Gottschall Donohue, Vice President, Strategy and Operations
At SpringFour we have long been advocates of employers taking part in employee financial health. When employees feel a greater sense of financial security, they are far more productive and loyal to their employer. It is no secret that over 40% of Americans don’t have enough saved to cover a $400 emergency expense, and most of those who don’t have enough savings are employed. Employers should take an active role in supporting the financial wellness of their employees and offering benefits and resources to assist their employees in saving and planning. Not only will they help their employees, but also their bottom line.
Sasha Orloff, CEO of LendUp, a SpringFour subscriber, recently wrote an op-ed for Forbes on Why Employers Need To Help Workers Deal With Income Volatility. He discusses the Finance Forward series of events that LendUp and the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program are currently conducting to elevate this issue and define actionable solutions. Employers have a number of tools they can call upon to help their employees address this volatility, and solutions that can range from smoothing out workers’ paychecks, to enrolling employees in savings accounts.
Sasha also specifically mentions employers looking to financial services companies, such as SpringFour, to help their employees find valuable resources for creating financial stability. LendUp has seen the benefits of partnering with SpringFour to bring financial health resources to their customers, seeing increased repayment rates and brand loyalty. These financial wellness results garnered through SpringFour can help employees as well. As the gig economy continues to grow, income volatility will continue to grow as well. “It is in employers’ best interest to help workers cope effectively.”
We are so glad to see this issue being addressed at a national level, and are excited to be part of the solution. The Center for Financial Services Innovation has also done research on this topic, pointing to robust employee financial health programs that improve their bottom line, promote employee loyalty and satisfaction, and serve as a unique benefit when hiring. As these conversations continue, one thing is for certain; we must all care about the financial well being of employees and how to assist those who are the most vulnerable in getting on the path to financial security and savings.
Katie Gottschall Donohue, Vice President, Strategy and Operations
Let’s talk about homeownership for a minute. This was a hot topic a decade ago amidst the foreclosure crisis. SpringFour was founded during this time as a solution for struggling homeowners looking for help. Now as many communities move past the crisis there is newfound interest in home buying and the needs of pre-purchase consumers. Homeownership is hot again. And SpringFour is again at the forefront of offering solutions to consumers in need.
At SpringFour, we have seen many of our subscribers and partners in financial wellness shift towards pre-purchase counseling, lending, and savings for consumers who hope to buy a home. Over the last year we’ve surveyed dozens of our users and found that they are looking for a quick and simple way to find home buying assistance programs for their clients. While many already have access to tools that thoroughly analyze eligibility and income, these programs take a lot of time to complete and are ineffective for clients just starting out in the process.
We have responded to this changing need by adding a new category, Down Payment Assistance, now available for every subscriber through S4desktop and S4direct. Thanks to this project, spearheaded by housing policy expert and SpringFour Data Team Member Julie St. Jean, SpringFour now offers a solution for prospective homebuyers that delivers results in seconds. You can help your clients take this important step in realizing their dream of homeownership and financial stability.
Over 700 assistance programs in 150+ MSAs will be available nationwide in all SpringFour applications on December 11th, in English and in Spanish. If you are a current SpringFour subscriber simply login and begin providing this valuable resource to your clients.
If you are not a current subscriber and would like to find out more about our products, contact email@example.com.
Why is Down Payment Assistance so important?
The dream of homeownership is again within reach for many Americans. The downward trend in homeownership appears to be turning in a positive direction with the homeownership rate climbing in 2017. With confidence in homeownership currently at the highest level in 3 years, why aren’t more Americans becoming homeowners? A recent study by Nerd Wallet found that one of the top problems cited is not having enough money for a down payment. With interest rates also rising in 2017 it’s more important than ever for borrowers to get some extra help.
Down payment assistance takes many forms, from free grants and cash gifts for down payment to money for closing costs, prepaid escrows, and other mortgage expenses. In a typical scenario this could reduce the amount of cash needed to close from $20,000 to $200.
Down Payment assistance can help buyers purchase a home sooner. It immediately builds buying power and can help the buyer take action on a purchase more quickly. Down payment assistance programs also give home buyers an important cash cushion so savings and reserve funds are available for home maintenance and other unexpected emergencies, making for more sustainable, financially sound homeowners.
Why aren’t more people taking advantage of this assistance?
Unfortunately, a recent survey from NeighborWorks America found that 70 percent of U.S. adults are unaware that down payment assistance was available in their neighborhood.
Common myths surrounding Down Payment Assistance may discourage people from seeking help and prevent otherwise qualified buyers from realizing their financial goals. For example, many buyers believe that they need to put down at least 20% of the purchase price if they hope to secure a loan. According to the National Association of REALTORS, buyers put an average of just 6 percent down when buying a home, far below common perceptions.
Individuals who are aware of down payment assistance often mistakenly assume that such aid is only for first-time homebuyers and low-income households. But many programs target move-up and repeat buyers too, as well as homebuyers from all income levels. In fact an estimated 87% of Homes qualify for down payment assistance nationwide.
These statistics show just how important it is to have a curated, updated list of down payment resources available in local communities.
How else can I help my customers become successful homeowners?
In addition to down payment resources SpringFour has a variety of categories that can help consumers save money to reach a financial goal such as buying a home. Accessing categories such as food, utility, or prescription savings can help reduce expenses by thousands of dollars a year, allowing the consumer to save more.
SpringFour also offers referrals to HUD certified non-profit housing counseling. Local Housing Counselors can provide free trustworthy advice for anyone looking to develop a budget, build credit, and prepare for homeownership.
Contact us to find out more about these great resources at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cassandra Compton, VP of Data Integrity and User Experience
SpringFour is proud to report out on our partnership with U.S. Bank. This partnership is a model for how financial institutions can engage their customers to provide financial health resources and see benefits for their customers, their employees and the bottom line for the bank.
SpringFour and U.S. Bank first partnered in October of 2016 to bring local financial health resources to their mortgage customers. They have seen impressive results. Click here to read the full report.
U.S. Bank recognized that their mortgage customers who were in distress needed additional assistance. They wanted a solution that could not only help address the root causes behind their borrowers’ financial distress, but could also be provided by customer service Agents within the Bank. SpringFour provided an opportunity to utilize technology to easily assist customers across the country.
Not only has U.S. Bank been able to provide assistance to their customers, but they have also seen great benefits for the Bank. U.S. Bank has seen benefits in enhanced customer service experience, increased participation in foreclosure prevention activities, and increased repayment rates.
The partnership has already received recognition as a finalist for the BAI Global Innovation Award in the Breakthrough Collaboration in Financial Services Category.
“S4desktop empowers our agent effectiveness beyond traditional collections and workout strategies. With the additional help of local resources, our customers are more likely to gain control of their expenses and overcome financial difficulty.” –Scott Rodeman, SVP, U.S. Bank Mortgage Servicing, Default Operations
SpringFour is extremely proud of our partnership with U.S. Bank. To learn more about how you can bring these benefits to your customers and your company, contact us. We’d love to talk to you.
We have had an amazing year at SpringFour. We are thankful. It’ s a year in which we have seen new customers adopt our technology, and existing customers fully implement and see impressive result for their borrowers and their repayment rates. We’ve received a lot of outside validation that our work is important and significant. As a founder, I could not be more proud of our team and our impressive results. This year we are on pace to make more than 1 million referrals to financial health resources.
What does that tell us? More and more families are searching for ways to save money and need help meeting their monthly expenses. We believe that helping to route people to non profit and government resources is absolutely critical to helping people achieve better financial health. And it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Our technology makes it simple and easy for our subscribers to make referrals part of their workflow. For example, U.S Bank now uses SpringFour in every single interaction that they have with in their mortgage servicing operations. Why? Because it helps their customer service agents provide better customer service, it demonstrates to their borrowers that U.S. Bank is committed to helping them succeed, and it increases foreclosure prevention activities and drives better repayment rates. Simple steps that lead to significant results.
LendUp provides its borrowers with SpringFour referrals because they understand that if they want to get repaid; it’s in their best interest to help their borrowers reduce their household costs. And, the best part about it? Their borrowers are not only able to save money because of SpringFour referrals, they feel better about LendUp too. Borrowers who receive help from their lender feel better because their lender has made the effort to not just loan them money but has taken the time to understand that they might need help.
We are seeing more and more companies take an interest in financial health and looking for ways to help their customers or employees live better financial lives. Just today, Prudential had a full-page ad in the Business section of the Chicago Tribune urging employers to think about how to build better pathways to financial health and to join them in their work with the Aspen Institute.
That is very exciting for us at SpringFour. We’ve known for a long time that people’s financial lives can be complicated and messy. Typically, it’s not just one bill or issue that gets in the way of better credit scores, or staying current on their mortgage. That’s why we built the technology that allows our subscribers to address the root causes behind a person’s financial challenges and have over 30 different categories of resources available. Living paycheck to paycheck is complicated, but with SpringFour our resources make it simple to help people in times of need.
The SpringFour team works hard each and every day always certain to keep financial health at the forefront of every decision we make. Whether that’s adding new service categories as we understand the issues facing consumers or working on product enhancements and features that will drive engagement with our applications, we know that each decision must result in the ultimate goal of directing people to organizations, resources, and products that will help them achieve better financial health.
This year, we are especially thankful that more and more companies recognize that creating opportunities for financial health is best for everyone. And we are extremely grateful for those partners that we are already working with to help more and more families move beyond paycheck to paycheck.
Rochelle Nawrocki Gorey
Co-Founder & CEO