Part of my job at Cinch is to reach out to influential third parties that are aligned with our purpose of increasing your financial health and best outcomes. We started that process nearly three years ago with our initial outreach to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or the CFPB. That’s the government regulator for most things related to consumer financial services (with investments and insurance not in their purview).
The staff at the CFPB was not used to a startup approaching them seeking practical alignment in an open way — most financial technology companies avoid the CFPB at all costs since their business models can be quite deceptive. In our case we wanted to be transparent about our plans to create an always-on, totally loyal personal financial manager working only for you and your financial life.
Over the last three years that we’ve been in touch with the CFPB, they’ve been supportive and through them we’ve been able to connect to key economists and experts in the field of financial health. One of these is a blast from my past — Consumers Union, the pro-consumer policy organization that publishes Consumer Reports.
My dad always subscribed to Consumer Reports. It would review all sorts of appliances, cars, really anything you could buy, and then rate it on a bunch of features that would matter to most people. It introduced me to the world of “harvey balls” as they became to be known — little colored balls indicating if something was good or bad on a certain dimension. I would pore over the reports, interested in the statistics and ratings — certainly an early interest I carried into Cinch.
At some point, Consumers Union starting looking into banking and financial services. Now, they have a staff of people ranging from economists to attorneys evaluating the consumer financial space, and more recently, financial technology. It’s a great non-profit complement to the work of the CFPB.
Cinch’s mission is all about looking out for your best interests financially as your totally loyal, always on, financially super-intelligent CFO. That means only doing what’s right for you as your fiduciary in your financial life. In our discussions with Consumers Union staff, I told them that one way to think about Cinch is to imagine Consumers Union magically transformed into highly personalized and intelligent software. We would like to bring ease and transparency into the financial sphere of your life, and we’re hopeful that Consumers Union, like the CFPB, can help us ensure that our decision intelligence is comprehensive, accurate, and ultimately, serving only you and your financial health.
I will keep you posted on our progress.