The financial services industry has come a long way in recent years. It’s easier than ever for consumers to search for lenders and compare rates for the services they need.
Even Financial has had a hand in that. Founded in 2014 by Phillip Rosen, Even creates technology that helps financial companies better serve their customers.
Rosen serves as CEO of Even, now a top fintech provider with more than $50 million in capital raised. Some of the top companies in the world use Even’s technology, including SoFi and Marcus by Goldman Sachs.
Whether you’re looking for a loan or investment opportunity, tracking down the best deal can be overwhelming. Comparison engines have simplified the process in so many industries, including consumer products and electronics.
The financial industry is the perfect market for a search, comparison, and recommendation engine. Even was founded with the belief that financial services are ideal for comparison shopping. Even provides the definitive search, comparison, and recommendation engine for financial services.
You won’t see Even’s work directly. Instead, they operate in the background on some of the most popular fintech sites.
Meet Even’s CEO – Phillip Rosen
Phillip Rosen has watched Even grow rapidly since founding the company in 2014. Initially, the company sought to transform finance by becoming the search, comparison, and recommendation engine for the sector.
Rosen’s background in data analytics makes him the perfect fit for a technology that powers comparison shopping. Prior to conceptualizing Even, Rosen co-founded Orchard Platform, an investment platform geared toward peer-to-peer and online lending. He also led the development team for Offerpop, a next-generation analytics platform.
Rosen serves as CEO for Even, which has now focused its efforts on further personalizing the results consumers get. Recently, he gave us some great financial tips and discussed Even’s goals.
Money Under 30’s interview with Phillip Rosen
We’d love to hear more in-depth about how and when Even began. Tell us more about how you got to where you are today.
We started Even when we saw a clear gap in the market for an easy way for consumers to search, compare, and get matched with financial services products. As a group of fintech and adtech veterans, we saw the expensive ineffectiveness in how financial institutions were reaching consumers and the lack of accessibility for those same consumers in their search.
Our first MVP was a personal loan API that programmatically matched consumers with pre-approved loan offers. Since then, we’ve built an extensive platform with over 400+ premium partners with a wide range of financial services such as loans, life insurance, credit cards, savings accounts, and mortgages. This was only possible due to our team building strong and collaborative partnerships with both our channel partners and financial institutions partners.
Every day is a continued effort to innovate, bringing the same level of programmatic decisioning to each financial services vertical—while continuing to make the ease of entry for channel partners lower and lower through turkey integration options.
What problem is Even trying to solve?
Our mission has always been to build the definitive search, comparison, and recommendation engine for financial services.
Prior to founding Even, the financial services industry was severely fragmented. Our channel partners had no easy way to provide financial services to their users beyond static ads or embarking on a lengthy process of growing and maintaining their own relationships with lenders (and the compliance and regulatory monitoring that requires).
Even has worked to unify the financial services industry, with use of the Even API and platform.
The Even API is facilitating a transformation in the financial services industry similar to what happened to the travel industry between the late nineties and early 2000s, when the software company ITA, that powers Google Flights, created a data-driven marketplace for airlines. In short, airlines provide data to Google Flights, which then works with content partners like Orbitz and Kayak to provide travelers with recommendations that fit within their budget and needs.
Through ITA, consumers had access to a programmatic marketplace and no longer had to rely on travel agents. Similarly, Even has created a data-driven, programmatic, turnkey marketplace for the financial services industry focused on connecting consumers to a variety of personal finance products. For our financial partners (such as SoFi or Marcus by Goldman Sachs), Even has proven to lower the cost of acquisition, improve monetization, decrease delinquency rates, and deliver transparency at scale—all while delivering programmatic compliance monitoring. For our channel partners—we’ve created easy to implement solutions to add financial products to their business and monetize.
We’re fascinated by your background in data analytics. How do you see data analytics transforming personal finance? How do you use data to benefit your partners and consumers?
One of the four values we uphold at Even is being empirical—more specifically, emphasizing testing, data, and iteration as an approach to making informed decisions.
From our utilization of first, second, and third-party data to generate personalized offers backed by machine learning, to the extensive dashboards we provide partners, to the level of testing we implement before launching a new feature—data is at the heart of all that we do at Even.
We work to consistently provide our partners a better understanding of their consumers and the market as a whole. Alternatively, that same data ensures that consumers are matched programmatically with products that will work best for their needs.
What advice would you give to a Millennial who is looking for a financial service of some sort? And if you were connecting with a Millennial who felt ‘stuck’ in indecision about which product works for their needs, what advice would you give?
The technology is now at your disposal to more easily find the financial services that best meet your needs—it’s similar and as easy as a Google search now, especially with the Even platform. Long gone are the days of your parents going from lender to lender applying for loans and taking a hit to their credit each time. Long gone are the days of meeting with life insurance agents to find the policy that works to best protect your family, only being shown rates from that agent’s carriers, and filling out piles of paperwork.
We’ve enabled our partners to provide consumers like yourself a fully functioning search engine, enabling you to get matched with the financial services offers that work best for you, backed by machine learning.
Content is your friend, as financial services are being de-mystified. Websites like Money Under 30 break down more complex financial information into easy-to-read content—making the answers to any questions you have only a Google-search away. Use your technological savviness to your advantage!
You’ve worked primarily with startups throughout your career. What do you like about working with startups versus a large corporation?
Startups enable a level of agility in development that ensures we’re able to consistently adapt according to the current condition of the market, as well as the needs of our partners. I prefer that agile nature, to ensure that the team I’m leading or working with can consistently deliver the solutions that work best in real-time, while further iterating on them as the need emerges.
As a startup founder, you’ve been praised for your ability to raise capital and acquire businesses. What advice would you have for someone interested in launching a startup or starting a small business?
Though I can’t speak on small businesses, in regards to startups—raising money is a means to an end, but it isn’t “the end”. It’s important to have a defined mission, along with a set of core pillars in how you envision your company will both advance and grow. Invest in your people, and enable them to feel empowered and fearless as they find solutions collaboratively as a team.
People are at the heart of every successful business, and investing in them will pay the biggest dividends. For every successful feature launch or extension into a new vertical we’ve had, there was a team of talented and hard-working people that made them successful.
Do you have an experience you can share with our readers – where you learned a ton from what happened?
I’ve recently been learning the importance of focus. No matter how many great ideas you have, the ability and importance of focus on one could make or break one’s success in accomplishing their goals and objectives.
During such a chaotic and unprecedented time, it’s easy to lose sight of the finish line by taking new paths and running towards emerging opportunities. Focus on the task at hand, and ensure you’re seeing it through to the completion of the objective you originally set, there will always be time to follow up on the other ideas that arose during the journey.
We create yearly and quarterly “OKRs”, or “objectives and key results” that we utilize as a goal-setting framework to define and track objectives and their outcomes. By creating them both company-wide and per-team, we ensure that everyone can focus on what needs to be done—no matter the ideas and distractions that may arise along the way.
A good example of this can be found in how we transitioned into a fully distributed workforce with the pandemic. We already had many distributed teammates through the world, so moving fully-remote was less of a hurdle—but an understanding company-wide regarding what our OKRs and discussing them at bi-weekly company meetings ensured that no matter where and when our teammates were working, they knew the overall goal and could work straight towards them, even as the market and our everyday lives changed.
Your team is growing fast. What have you done to ensure you build a team that works well together?
We have a People Team that works incredibly hard to ensure that we’re seeing the widest and most diverse pool of possible applicants for each position. Once hired, we have a variety of systems and platforms in place that work to ensure we have transparency in our communications, and resources that enable flexible and async onboarding such as an extensive wiki built on
Atlassian that is continuously used to document and memorialize our work and process, Lattice to enable mentorship and succinct 1:1 management and growth, and a company-wide continuing education program we call “Even School” that provides new employees the knowledge they need to jump right into the action and make a difference.
Where do you see financial services going in the coming years? How will technology continue to change how people find and use financial services products?
Every company will be a financial services company. As the market further unifies, and integration for companies (especially at an enterprise level) become easier and easier—everyone from large-internet retailers to workforce platforms will have the functionality to offer consumers a programmatic and easy to use marketplace of the financial products that make the most sense for them.
This will substantially benefit the consumer, no longer requiring them to search extensively for the financial products they need. Accessibility will increase, and consumers will be able to find the financial products they need, where and when they need them. It will also be easier than ever for consumers to accomplish securing those financial services, as technology simplifies their process exponentially.
An example of this can be found in how we’ve helped simplify the process of purchasing life insurance. Prior to the use of APIs, consumers had to speak to a life insurance agent who was only able to offer them the policies that they had on hand. We’ve modernized this approach, enabling the broadest end-to-end, multi-carrier, all-digital online life insurance flows in the industry.
A consumer can now interact with the Even platform on one of our channel partners’ website and secure personalized life insurance policy quotes for their specific health and financial needs, and finalize the process completely online—with some carriers on our network not even requiring a medical check (depending on several insurability factors).
The future of financial services will be streamlined, simplified, and will improve for all parties involved.
Who in your life has been the most instrumental in teaching you about money management?
Many people have provided me insights and teachings along the way, but working in the fintech space—you learn so much about the vast degree of financial products and services that exist beyond what is taught by one’s family or parents when you’re younger.
After years working in this space, and just being an adult in the financial world—nothing was a better teacher than experiencing all of it in my own life.
For example, after years of utilizing credit cards—you start realizing the value of utilizing credit cards that reward you for your specific spending habits, but someone else won’t be able to teach you what those spending habits are—you’ll have to notice them, and then pivot the cast of cards in your wallet to reward you for them.
What’s the best advice you’ve received (not necessarily money-related) that has shaped how you lead your life?
When it comes to management, always make sure that the wins go to your people, and the losses are socialized amongst the leadership.
For example, if a pitch doesn’t go according to plan, placing blame on the sales team that led the pitch doesn’t make much sense and it is unproductive—it’s more productive to just have a post-mortem across the leadership team to understand what went wrong overall, and what would have made your company more attractive. Alternatively, if a pitch goes well, that should undoubtedly be credited to the sales and marketing teams that made that pitch successful—and the leadership team should congratulate them accordingly.
What’s your top personal finance tip?
Buy crypto in 2012. No, but more seriously—as once said “compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe”. Use it to your advantage.
What is the financial book/website/podcast that has most influenced you?
I’ve found that Twitter, especially the FinTwit end of it, is an extremely valuable resource to not only understand the current condition of the market and industry but to also understand what consumers are facing so you can create solutions based on it.
With constant real-time updates coming from the most intelligent people in this industry, consistent and important journalism being shared, and consumers reacting to the markets and news in real-time—it’s an unending source of information.
What piece of wisdom would you give your 20-year-old self about managing money?
Thanks to the work of Even, it’s easier than ever for consumers to find the perfect financial services to meet their needs. Phillip Rosen and his team are leading the platform into the next phase, as companies of all types seek recommendation and comparison engines. With a mind for data and a long history of working in tech, Rosen is the perfect leader to guide Even into the next era.