BrightPlan Series A: Democratizing Access to Financial Wellness for Everyone
Marthin De Beer
Today I am excited to announce BrightPlan’s Series A funding round. This key milestone reinforces the growing importance of employee financial wellness and the trust we’ve earned as a leader in this rapidly accelerating industry. I want to thank our customers for their continued confidence and for entrusting us with their employees’ financial well-being; our employees for all their hard work and dedication; and our investors for their partnership and commitment to our mission of democratizing access to financial wellness for everyone.
We have experienced great momentum at BrightPlan. Over the past year, we increased fivefold our annual recurring revenue awarded, number of customers, and customer pipeline. We also tripled employee enrollment in our Total Financial Wellness solution.
We’ve worked hard to achieve these milestones in an unprecedented year. COVID-19 propelled employee well-being to the top of employer priorities nationwide. Companies went remote overnight, leaving leadership and HR teams to sort out how to best care for and engage their employees in a new remote work environment. The pandemic, coupled with the social justice movement, the turbulent election, and the events at the Capitol have pushed employee stress to new highs.
As part of this focus on employee well-being, financial wellness has gained tremendous awareness and traction with employers. With the challenges brought on by the pandemic, we at BrightPlan have been fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with many forward-thinking employers, including several Fortune 200 companies, to support their employees’ well-being.
It has been a fulfilling journey to date. I reminisce back to 2016 when I founded BrightPlan, with the goal of building a direct-to-consumer digital app for anyone to have access to solid financial advice, which is still out of reach for most people today. We’ve learned over the past few years of building BrightPlan that it’s not enough to create the best app in the world. How this tool gets into the hands of those who need it matters even more.
Equipped with this insight, we decided to shift gears in 2019 and offer BrightPlan as an employee financial wellness benefit by partnering with companies. Employers are uniquely positioned to support their employees’ financial well-being as most of an employee’s financial life is tied closely to their employer as the primary source of income and benefits.
Money is a top cause of stress for employees worldwide, hurting productivity and engagement. Financial stress also has a significant impact on physical and mental health. Nearly 1 in 4 Americans admit to avoiding medical treatment, due to the inability or fear of paying medical bills―and another 15% report family members forgoing medical care due to cost concerns. All of which leads to deteriorating conditions that ultimately drive up total healthcare costs and fuel even more financial stress. 75% of employees surveyed by John Hancock believe that employer-sponsored financial wellness programs would help relieve financial stress. Employers are also increasingly looking to support their employees with their financial wellness. 53% of employers surveyed by Alight are creating employee financial well-being strategies.
We see this trend continuing for the long term. Financial wellness is no longer a “nice to have” benefit―it’s a strategic imperative. Our investors agree and are committed to BrightPlan’s growth journey. This funding round was led by the Fremont Group and the Cynosure Group, and joined by Still Capital Partners and Hawk Partners. We are especially thrilled to have George Still, Jr. a seasoned tech investor and Workday board member, join the BrightPlan board as part of this investment.
We plan to leverage this funding round to double down and scale our product, sales and marketing efforts. I am proud of our strong lead in innovation and our AI-powered solution that provides deep personalization for employees. We will continue to further invest in enhancing the employee experience. We are also committed to keeping the interest of employees front and center―BrightPlan is the first financial wellness solution certified for fiduciary excellence by the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) and is audited annually to ensure that our processes adhere to fiduciary best practices.
While I am excited about our product and continued momentum, I am even more excited about the role of financial wellness in advancing equity. We still have a long way to go in leveling the playing field for underrepresented communities in this country, especially regarding the racial wealth gap. Employers have an opportunity to lead this transformation by ensuring financial wellness programs are an integral part of their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives. Most DE&I efforts focus on representation and removing workplace bias—which is important but not sufficient to solve the larger systemic issue of financial inequality.
Creating lasting wealth for underrepresented communities, however, can lead to change by fueling generational advances. That’s where financial wellness can play an important role. Even something as simple as providing financial education can be a powerful step forward in closing the financial literacy gap. By helping underrepresented communities achieve financial wellness, employers can play an active role in bridging the wealth gap.
As we see the light at the end of the tunnel from this year-long pandemic and health and economic crisis, we shouldn’t focus on going back to “normal”—instead, we need to set our sights on how we can do better. How can we be better leaders and better members of our community? How can we support our customers and employees better? And finally, how can we truly live our mission and create the change we want to see in this world? The past year has given us much to think about, and at BrightPlan we will continue to strive to better support our customers and their employees’ well-being―making financial wellness accessible for everyone.