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IMAGE: Aspiration

HOW ASPIRATION IS REVOLUTIONIZING BANKING

Want to think about banking differently? Aspiration is a socially-conscious, democratized financial platform designed for everyday Americans.

Tell us a cool thing about Aspiration that’s not often reported in the press.

Aspiration believes in companies that are striving for a better tomorrow and is the first socially-conscious, fully democratized financial platform that allows everyone access to sustainable investing. Aspiration’s Redwood Fund looks to identify companies who understand that smart, long-term thinking is not only the right thing to do, but right for the bottom line. Aspiration and UBS, who manages the Redwood Fund, vet all companies to ensure they meet ethical standards for investing, such as companies that do not use fossil fuels, promote employee safety and highlight diversity among its workforce.

How do you go embed purpose in your brand?

Purpose and trust are an integral part of Aspiration’s mission. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Aspiration’s CEO Andrei Cherny saw widespread customer distrust for financial institutions and wanted to help combat this problem. Andrei founded Aspiration on the principle that a financial institution should be a partner with its customers. Not only does Aspiration provide products that invest in sustainable businesses, but through its “Pay What Is Fair” model, Aspiration allows members to set their own fee, even if it’s zero, building relationships on a foundation of shared values and trust, and putting member’s interest ahead of greed.

How do you measure success outside of the traditional bottom line?

Aspiration feels strongly about more than the bottom line and making a difference in the world. Through its “Dimes Worth of Difference” program, Aspiration donates 10% of its entire revenue to Accion, a nonprofit that provides financial services and lending to small business owners across America, in order to further expand economic opportunity.

What’s the thing you’re proudest of?

Everyday Americans get inferior financial products and find investing to be complex and out of reach. Aspiration is turning the banking industry on it’s head, both financially and ethically, by creating a financial platform committed to democratizing investment strategies once limited to only the wealthiest Americans.

Andrei Cherny, the CEO Says: 

“There has been a massive increase in the amount of impact, sustainable and socially responsible investing, but 98% of that has come from high-net worth individuals and large institutions. Everyday investors have stayed on the sidelines. That’s even though many people, especially Millennials, pay great attention to the contents of the products they are purchasing and ethics of the companies they are buying from across all aspects of their lives.

There are impact products available from but they often have very high minimum investment levels. The Aspiration Redwood Fund is special for a few reasons. First, it is 100% fossil fuel and firearm free and invests in companies with strong environmental, employee, and governance practices. Second, it has seen strong performance thus far. And third, it is made available exclusively through Aspiration – which is a financial firm with a conscience that lets its customers choose their fee and gives 10% of what it makes to charity.”

The Breakdown

1) Products 

Flagship Fund: A mutual fund with a $500 minimum investment that has the goal of long-term growth with less volatility than the stock market.

Redwood Fund: A fund with the goal of investing in companies whose sustainable, environmental, and employee practices result in their being poised for growth.

Summit Account: A high-yield checking account offering 1.00% APY, no monthly service fees, and free access to any ATM in the world. With debit card.

2) Key Partnership

Sierra Club: Aspiration recently launched a partnership with the Sierra Club to place sustainable investing strategies into reach for the millions of Americans who care about the environment and battling climate change.  Aspiration makes a donation to the Sierra Club for every member that invests in its sustainable strategy.

3) Funding To Date

$20.5M from investors including Jeff Skoll.

Aspiration

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