Financial planning startup SigFig has for the most part been flying under the radar since it launched a couple of years ago. But now it’s ready to get serious about expanding and supporting a growing number of customers, with the help of its new head of operations Steve Lifgren.
SigFig uses big data and machine learning to analyze your retirement accounts and to keep them optimized. By doing so, it can massively undercut the cost of hiring a traditional financial advisory, and generally outperform human analysts. Unlike some other financial-planning services, it also enables users to continue using their existing accounts.
Lifgren was formerly senior manager of operations at retirement planning company Financial Engines. There he oversaw and grew the ops team as the company grew from a tiny startup with zero assets under management to where it is today — a publicly traded company with a market cap of $3 billion and $82 billion under management.
Lifgren is hoping to transfer that expertise to SigFig, where he will take the title of Director of Operations and will be tasked with building out the company’s customer support team. That includes plans to open an office and build a big new customer support team in Phoenix, Ariz.
Why Phoenix? Because believe it or not, that’s where a lot of the best talent can be found, according to co-founder and CEO Mike Sha.
“Phoenix is the financial ops hub of the universe,” Sha said. “Between Schwab, Vanguard, and American Express… When you call their 800 number, chances are the person who answers is in Phoenix. Having our team based there means we can ramp up quickly.”
Even without a large operations team, SigFig has been busy signing up customers, mostly through word of mouth. Sha says that the typical amount of time it takes for a user to go from registering to signing over their accounts to allow SigFig to manage them is less than five minutes. Providing a more robust onboarding and customer support team should only improve that.
SigFig has raised about $20 million since it was founded, from investors that include Union Square Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, and DCM. It currently has about 40 employees, with 10 of those in ops, but that should expand rapidly soon.