VestMatch, a San Francisco-area startup, has launched the beta of its first product, an online collaborative investing service that allows multiple people to support a defined savings goal. VestMatch.com aims to meet the growing demand for collaborative savings, defined as two or more households joining together to reach a financial target.
“Given the challenging financial and job markets over the past 18 months, the goals we have for our children, ourselves, or other important people or issues in our lives – such as saving for college, a down payment on that first house, passing on your hard-earned wealth while helping children become financially responsible, or even supporting a cause or charity - are more difficult than ever,” says VestMatch CEO Matt Sadler. “By banding together, people are more likely to reach their goals, and reach them sooner.”
A key benefit of VestMatch is transparency. When setting up a plan and asking (or inviting) others to support a specific goal, VestMatch encourages individuals to create or connect a separate financial account or 529 plan at any bank or brokerage firm dedicated to saving for just this specific goal. This way, all plan partners can log on to see the account total, a contribution history and, soon, how the money is invested. This transparency builds trust between plan members, since they know how the money is being saved and used.
“This financial transparency is important,” Sadler says. “Generosity and desire to help may be strong, but people want to know that the money they give is being used responsibly and wisely. VestMatch’s 24-hour online access for all partners supporting a particular goal provides assurance that if, say, they are helping the college savings of a grandchild, the money they contribute is staying put and growing until that college bill is due, not being withdrawn to pay for a vacation or a car.”
Another benefit and application of this transparency is in generation-to-generation wealth transfer. A VestMatch “match savings” program can link contributions to a savings requirement by the beneficiary. The parent or grandparent can check the VestMatch plan and verify that the beneficiary’s contributions were made before making their next contribution. “Parents are very enthusiastic about using VestMatch to both support and encourage their adult children to save at the same time. This kind of plan gives them an incentive to do so, and rewards the behavior that can lead to financial independence.”
In addition, VestMatch’s collaboration tools provide a private space for everyone involved in a goal to share comments and suggestions, and even photos or videos. “For many families, discussions about money can create conflict or discomfort. Using VestMatch’s collaboration tools, these conversations have a lower-drama space for financial conversations,” Sadler suggests. VestMatch plans are considered “private” plans and visible only to the plan’s partners. However, users can also designate plans as “public” and therefore visible to any VestMatch user, which can be useful if they are saving for a charity. “We think that some of the VestMatch users will want to save for additional causes or charities, and this platform gives them the tools to do that, while still providing all contributors the transparency they want,” suggests Sadler.
More information about VestMatch can be found at its homepage or its corporate blog.