Why We Are Building Sagewell

by: Sam Zimmerman | in Corporate, Retirement

elderly couple doing their finances

Why We Are Building Sagewell

Because seniors deserve more. Better banking. Smarter financial services. More human service. Because it is the banking our parents deserve.

I don’t need to tell this to seniors, but it’s important for everyone else to understand. 

Retirement at 64 was once the standard. It was a reward for working hard and living smart. Today it’s a dream as fewer and fewer of our seniors have the option or control over their retirement the way they deserve. The challenges of life on a fixed income can be daunting.

  • Health care expenses are spiraling out of control. 
  • Covid has driven more people into early retirement. 
  • Financial fraud and scams targeting retirees are growing more common – and vicious. 
  • Inflation and inverted yield curves are hurting people on fixed incomes the hardest.
  • Cash flow problems are forcing retirees into part-time jobs and expensive payday loans because they don’t get their fixed income when they need it. 

Feeling Left Behind in the Banking Revolution

It seems every month, Washington or Wall Street change something else that directly impacts seniors. Our retirees shouldn’t have to read the newspaper to figure out if they need to buy dental insurance next year. The system is a mess. 

It almost feels as if banks (and the entire financial industry) have turned their backs on seniors and retirees. While advances in online banking are helping Millennials and Zoomers take control of their finances, Silicon Valley isn’t putting the same effort into helping seniors and retirees. Tens of billions of dollars are being invested into new financial services and technologies every year, but only a tiny fraction of that goes toward addressing the needs of seniors. 

Driven by Personal Experience

We’ve been inspired by our own personal experiences with the financial system and by the experiences of friends and family members who want more from their banks and financial advisors. I’ve lived this firsthand. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, and my mom retired in 2021. This was right about the time I started building Sagewell. As I sat with her at the kitchen table over long summer nights crawling through financial statements, filings, rules, and government websites, I knew there had to be a better way.

Together we had to make sense of how my folk’s savings, retirement funds, social security, and Medicare payments would line up with the life they wanted to live in retirement. We struggled to figure out how they’d get the cash when they needed it, rather than when the government wanted to send it. And the challenges have never stopped.

My experience has been echoed by my colleagues and people we’ve met all across the country. Seniors deserve better.  

The Banking Seniors Deserve

We know we can make a difference and give our seniors the banking they deserve. That’s why we started Sagewell. My mom was our first member on the platform, and many of our moms and dads use Sagewell every day. We wanted to address these financial challenges and help people like our parents realize the full potential of modern retirement. We’re building a new generation of delightful, easy-to-use products that are specifically created for people living on a fixed income.

The change has already started at sagewellfinancial.com. The first Sagewell service is the free MyPaycheck feature, which helps retirees manage their income as if they are still getting a paycheck. The service is built for people with one or more fixed incomes. It combines these multiple income sources into a twice a month paycheck that can get you paid up to two weeks earlier, regardless of when the income source is paid now. It also provides easy tools to manage a budget based on their paycheck. This all runs through a simple online checking account that has been built specifically to be easy to use and accessible for seniors (Did we mention free bill pay, access to free ATMs, and unlimited free checks? Those are included too.)

Retirement Advocates Who Work with You and For You

Online banking lacks the personal touch that seniors came to rely on in their local branch offices. That’s why each Sagewell member is assigned a specific retirement advocate to help them achieve their financial goals. Their advocate will be with them every step of the way on the – online or on the phone. Retirement Advocates can help members can enroll in yearly senior savings check-ups to guarantee they are maximizing their disposable income each month, ask their retirement advocate to help them navigate a number of essential topics, including home equity planning, care planning, and Medicare, or talk to their retirement advocate about any suspicious activity, text, email, or call.

Two thirds of Baby Boomers don’t work with a financial advisor and could use some help from someone other than a celebrity advertising reverse mortgages. Our holistic approach to retirement helps them make the most of their savings and assets and feel confident about the big decisions. For all our members we integrate both public and private resources and savings programs available, helping them navigate a variety of senior-specific challenges, and protect them from ever-evolving fraud. 

And, if you’re one of the 33% of  Baby Boomers who works with a financial advisor; our simple, intuitive, and accessible interfaces complement the advice these professionals provide.

Filling the Employer Benefits Void

But beyond new products and services, we think of Sagewell as pioneering a new institution to support American retirees.

In the US, working-age citizens increasingly rely on employers to engage with government benefits. For example, payroll taxes, tax-incentivized financial products like 401(k) and HSA planning, as well as enrolling in healthcare, have become pillars of modern social security. While immensely successful by some measures, this means that Americans who do not have employers – especially America’s older adults – have suffered, with hundreds of millions in avoidable Medicare fines each year and billions left on the table in Social Security due to preventable errors and lack of institutional support. 

Sagewell aspires to serve our members by helping them manage their payroll and benefits when they finally get to be the boss — during their retirement. Helping our members access, budget, and save on all their biggest expenses during this stage of their lives.

A New Banking Experience for Seniors Awaits

This is just the beginning. We are planning a number of new products to help our members save even more money on all their most common expenses, help them to pass along more of their estate to their kids, and easily navigate all the important transitions that occur in retirement. 

The time has come for a new era of retirement finance. Please join us (click here to see open jobs) and help us build the banking that our parents deserve. Learn more about why top VC firms are investing in us and our successful seed round of financing here.

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