LearnVest, a personalized financial planning program, has raised $28 million in new funding led by Northwestern Mutual Capital with Accel Partners participating. This brings the company’s total funding to over $72 million.
Founded by Alexa von Tobel, LearnVest originally debuted in 2009 at TechCrunch50 as an online guide aimed at teaching women to become more financially savvy. In 2012, LearnVest pivoted slightly to aim for both men and women and became a full-fledged investment adviser.
Now the company offers a seven-step plan, called the LearnVest Action Program, that takes you from cutting expenses to budgeting for goals to investing your money. All users work with a certified financial planner who gives them specialized attention based on their financial needs and goals. Each of these advisers has gone through LearnVest training and is empathetic to all financial situations. Financial plans start at $89 for the budget version. The five-year plan is $299 and the portfolio builder is $399.
“When it comes to investment advice, the financial services world is full of choice. The vast majority of firms focus only on the investment piece and pay less attention to basic financial planning. The average American (roughly speaking) runs $9K in credit card debt, has less than $55K in retirement savings, and has less than $1K in emergency savings,” says von Tobel.
As von Tobel explains, the startup is trying to bring sound financial planning to those not in the 1 percent. “The reality is that much of our population still lives paycheck to paycheck,” she says, adding that LearnVest empowers people to start taking control of their finances.
Where the company is hoping to differentiate itself is through one-on-one coaching and personalization. The company recently brought on an SVP of analytics from Netflix and has been doubling down on providing a more customized online experience for each customer.
Von Tobel says that the new funding will be used towards hiring at the company’s Arizona-based Expert Hub and to scale the company’s LearnVest at Work channel, a new offering that allows companies to give workers access to LearnVest as a perk.
The appeal of LearnVest is that it not only helps people manage their money, but wants to help them develop better financial practices that they can apply throughout the rest of their lives. And using personalization and customization to provide a value-add service and help an underserved population is something that has captured the attention (and checkbooks) of traditional financial services companies like Northwestern Mutual and AmEx.