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Rhian Horgan – Silvur Financial App Helping Baby Boomers Navigate Retirement

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H. Brown
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Rhian Horgan
Rhian Horgan

Rhian Horgan is the Founder and CEO of Silvur, a fintech app dedicated to helping baby boomers navigate their next act. Our parent company Kindur was named to the 2020 Forbes Fintech 50 and has been featured in the NY Times, Forbes, Inc Magazine, CNBC, Crains, Yahoo Finance and Business Insider.  Prior to founding the company, Rhian was a Managing Director at JP Morgan Asset Management.  Born and raised in England and Ireland, Rhian lives in New York City with her husband and two young children.

Topics Discussed:

  • How retirement has changed over the last 20 years, but industry has not evolved to meet those needs
  • The role of technology in supporting Baby Boomers – Are they participating online and do they use tech?
  • How inclusive UX can support underserved customers
  • The intersection of health and wealth in America – In retirement, health is a financial issue
  • Outlook under a new President

Hanh Brown: [00:00:00] ] On this episode of warmer living, I have Rian Horgan on the show. I’m excited to talk to her about her FinTech app. That’s making waves in the senior living community. So we end thank you so much for taking the time to be here with me today and welcome to boomer living. Can we start by having you share some background information?

[00:01:30] Where are you from and what is your expertise lie and how did you get interested in this field?

Rhian Horgan: [00:01:35] Sure. So I’m the founder and CEO of silver. We’re an app that’s dedicated to helping baby boomers navigate their next act. So really focused on individuals in their fifties and sixties, as they navigate this new set of health and wealth decisions, as they embark on their next act.

[00:01:53] Prior to founding the company, I had worked for JP Morgan for about 17 years. And through that, I had spent a lot of time advising families on their investments and it become. As a result of that, the trusted child and my parents reached out to as they were navigating retirement. And as my parents started to navigate this series of health and wealth decisions, I think the thing that really surprised me was that all this modern technology that had been built to really make.

[00:02:18] Financial and health decisions easier and empower the consumer. And I’ve really been built for millennials. And there was very little technology that had been built to support this very large set of consumers who are arguably making some of the biggest decisions of their lifetime and so inspired by needing to help my parents.

[00:02:36] I started the company.

Hanh Brown: [00:02:37] Congratulations. I feel like retirement has changed in so many ways over the last 20 years. But the industry has not evolved enough to meet the needs of the retirees. So do you feel this way too? And how, how could you describe some of the ways that this is true?

[00:02:53] Rhian Horgan: [00:02:53] So I think, you know, a lot of the innovation that we’ve seen over the last two decades has been really about the accumulation phase of preparing for retirement and whether it was auto enrollment, target, date funds, really trying to make it easier.

[00:03:05] For consumers to frankly, get on the ladder of preparing and saving for retirement. But the reality is that’s the second phase, which is actually the decumulation phase. And it’s this series of new decisions that a consumer has to make. But frankly, aren’t just about investing. It’s about understanding your healthcare costs.

[00:03:22] It’s about choosing a Medicare plan. It’s about. Making our social security election. And to date, what we’ve seen is not a lot of modernization or innovation around that space. And so what we get really excited about is frankly, building the playbook to help this consumer feel empowered as they navigate this new set of decisions, which are really all about decumulation, right.

[00:03:43] In a world where unlike their parents’ generation who had pensions and income for life, this is a generation that needs to sell fund their retirement. And so really helping us consumer understand the steps they need to take to successfully make their money. Last a lifetime we think is really critical.

Hanh Brown: [00:03:59] So the stereotype around seniors, let’s say the silent generation is that they aren’t tech literate. They don’t like using technology and many. May not be even online. Is this true in reality? And how is the role of technology and supporting the older adults?

Rhian Horgan: [00:04:15] Yeah. So the first thing, because I don’t really believe in the word senior

[00:04:19] There is a, I think a misnomer in the market today that everyone over the age of 50 is thrown together in one bucket. That’s like saying everyone under the age of 50 is the same. And I will tell you, I know for certain that the way my children who are six and eight navigate the internet is very different to the way I navigate the international.

[00:04:35] So the first thing is I think about the over 50 crowd is having two demographics. There’s the baby boomer generation people in their fifties and sixties who grew up using computers who are tech literate, they’re online. And then there is, I would say the 75 plus crowd, which is really the silent generation who grew up in a different environment.

[00:04:53] And while that generation is embracing technology, they’re not embracing technology in the same way that baby boomers are. We see baby boomers behaving a lot more like gen X and the market really realizes this is a consumer again who use computers in the eighties. They’re online. They’re on social media.

[00:05:10] And, but they navigate technology differently. And so when we see a baby boomer struggling with technology, I would posit that it’s not because they don’t know how to use technology it’s because the technology was not designed for them. And at its very core, I’m going to go with this contrast, my young children.

[00:05:28] To my father. So my young children have grown up in a world. That’s like a touch screen technology world. So they expect everything they interact with to be, be touched on the screen. And so I see them struggle with a mouse, right? A mouse for them is really challenging because it’s not the role they grew up in my father.

[00:05:46] And the other hand, read cat scans and MRIs on a computer as a doctor. In the eighties from home. So working from home in the eighties, which is getting you wouldn’t think about. And secondly, being able to access technology from home, but he grew up using a computer first. And so the way that he navigates the internet is different from someone who’s used to news to a mobile first or touch screen.

[00:06:06] And so at the end of the day, what we think a lot about is this demographic is tech savvy. It’s just that their patterns are different. And how do you design an experience that embraces those patterns.

Hanh Brown: [00:06:16] Good analogy. I am a young baby boomer and in my mid fifties, you’re right. I think we can’t group anybody.

[00:06:23] That’s 50 and above to be one demographic. There’s several there’s two, at least maybe three. Can you tell us about your app? Silver? What does it do to benefit the aging population and what led you to creating this app?

Rhian Horgan: [00:06:37] Yeah, so the, so our ops silver is really dedicated to helping baby boomers navigate their next act.

[00:06:43] And I use the word act rather than retirement, because I think retirement, isn’t what it used to be. And if you’re in your fifties and you’re equally likely to be thinking about starting a new business or a new job, As you might be thinking about downsizing your home and thinking about where you might want to live in your seventies and beyond what we do through the app is we give all of our customers a free retirement plan and a retirement score.

[00:07:04] The score you can think about as equivalent to what a millennial gets through a credit score, but it’s really focused on this customer’s biggest fear, which is running out of money and retirement. So in its simplest format, we help our customers understand how long will their money lasts. It’ll last till 80 or 85 or 90.

[00:07:19] The importance of this plan for this generation. I can’t overemphasize enough. And that’s because this customer has money and assets and lots of different places. They’ve likely had three or four different jobs. If they’re married, their spouse has three to four different jobs. So think about all those 401ks that are floating out there.

[00:07:35] Needing to really create a plan that pulls all the pieces together. But that plan is more than just investments. Again, it goes back to understanding your spending and retirement, your government benefits and retirement. So at the heart, we help customers really create that plan, understand how long their money is going to last in retirement.

[00:07:52] Okay. Give them tips around how they can make it last longer and then empower them to make these decisions. And we have a lot of content that helps customers navigate decisions like social security and Medicare. And we’ve also launched a retirement store that helps our customers and get access to the new products and services they’re going to need in this next act.

Hanh Brown: [00:08:12] So for the baby boomers approaching the later third or fourth part of their lives, I see this app, give them the ability to improve their financial fitness over time. Walk me through that

Rhian Horgan: [00:08:23] process. Yeah. Make it really easy to get started. We ask customers a few pieces of information around their age, their salaries, so that we can predict what their social security benefits can look like.

[00:08:34] They can either manually enter their asset information. So we understand approximately how much assets they’ve saved, or we’ve also partnered with plaid, which is owned by visa so that customers can actually connect their accounts and really quickly pull in their entire balance sheet in one place. From that experience, the first thing that our customer gets is a score.

[00:08:53] It tells them how long their savings are going to last in retirement. We also give them the tools to understand how they can make that money last longer. So we allow them to adjust their decision around social security, adjust their spending, adjust their retirement date, perhaps add some part-time income.

[00:09:09] So out of that first experience, we’re really trying to empower the customer with is this really quick snapshot and where they stand. We show them what their retirement income will look like over time. We also show them what their retirement expenses will look like over time. Now, all of this is done with a goal of being human in a world that sees numbers.

[00:09:26] So what you don’t see in the experience right now is lots of fancy charts, lots of money, Carlos simulations. I assure you all those Monte Carlo simulations are being done underneath the hood. We have a set of algorithms that we’ve built that has over 3000 data points. So a lot of hard science underneath the hood to give these projections, but what we really want to do at the end of the day, Is give customers the numbers that matter to them.

[00:09:47] And what matters to them is, is my money gonna last a lifetime? And what does that paycheck look like.

Hanh Brown: [00:09:52] Especially now COVID is deter many’s retirement. So this does this app only intended to help the older adults in are there other groups who it could help as well?

Rhian Horgan: [00:10:06] So we’re squarely focused on helping Americans who are in their fifties and sixties.

[00:10:10] And the reason that we focused on this demographic is that there’s a new level of precision that’s needed around navigating these retirement decisions that you’re making. So if you’re in your thirties and forties, you’re more likely to be thinking about saving for your child’s college education, maybe refinancing your mortgage, maybe even paying down your own student loans.

[00:10:27] By the time you’re getting into your fifties and sixties, you’re actually thinking about, can I do a catch-up contribution on my 401k? How do I max out my IRA? Should I think about refinancing or do I actually want to think about selling and downsizing and buying a smaller home? And so there’s a different set of decisions this customer is making.

[00:10:44] And so in order to truly serve as customer, our app is wholly dedicated to them as time goes on. And as our customers age, You would expect to see additional features being added, but for now, we’re really built for that. Customer is in their fifties and sixties today. Our average customer is 58 years old.

[00:11:01] Half of our customers are female, and most of our customers are still working. So this is a really like active, engaged group of consumers who is really excited about planning. What that next act looks like.

Hanh Brown: [00:11:13] How have you made sure the user experience can be inclusive with a disability baby boomers sometimes face such as Vision loss.

Rhian Horgan: [00:11:22] So in that we’ve done in the app and this isn’t say as time goes on, there’ll be an evolution. But the first thing we’ve done is spent a lot of time, really understanding like color and shade. And so there’s a lot of work that you can do within an app. That’s frankly, invisible to the naked eye.

[00:11:34] That’s all about how do you set up the contrast in the experience to make it accessible? And so that’s the first thing that we’ve done when I think about where we go in the future. I do see an older part of this demographic. So when you get into your seventies and eighties, I actually think that voice can become a really critical component to the experience.

[00:11:51] We don’t see voice as being critical for this consumer, from the testing that we’ve done in their fifties and sixties, but have absolutely from day one made sure that kind of accessibility through the choice of color and screen design is front and center. The other thing that we do, and this kind of goes to the heart of what I think is unique about our company is that we’ve invested.

[00:12:11] In what’s called user design from the earliest days. And so we do a tremendous amount of user research, user testing, and that’s, in-person testing, that’s digital testing, that’s survey work to really understand what is, and isn’t working with our, for our customers. And that I think, as you look at our experience today, and what you’ll see is that a lot of the iterations we’ve had in the experience are really based on the feedback that we’re getting from customers around, what they’re looking for and the information that they’re looking to share with us.

Hanh Brown: [00:12:38] So have you found it difficult to get buy ins from seniors to adopt technology?

Rhian Horgan: [00:12:43] And I don’t think about our customer as senior. So our customers are in their fifties and sixties. These are working vibrant individuals who are using technology every day. Again, Hannah, yourself, you run a podcast, right? So these are people that are on Facebook.

[00:12:56] They’re FaceTiming with friends or having zoom cocktail parties right now. This is not your grandmother. This is a consumer in their fifties and sixties and over and over again, all we see is that their behavior looks a lot more like gen X than most of the markets are perceived.

Hanh Brown: [00:13:11] So something else that I know you’re passionate about is the intersection of health and wealth in America.
[00:13:16] So can you tell us more about the intersection and the implication of it? And the baby boomers.

Rhian Horgan: [00:13:22] Yeah. So I think one of the big aha moments I had early on in building our company was this intersection of health and wealth for a student to be retirees. And like, I would just say that myself personally, I’ve been fortunate enough not to have found healthcare, to be a financial issue.

[00:13:37] What I found when we talked with soon to be retirees and early retirees was that every single person talked about healthcare in financial terms. And when you dig underneath the surface, it’s not surprising. The average couple who’s 65 today will spend $280,000 on the cost of health care over the course of their retirement.

[00:13:55] And that, by the way, doesn’t factor in a nursing home or long-term care. And so $280,000 just for basic healthcare, that’s a financial issue. When you think about those numbers and you think about other financial decisions, people are making, that’s like thinking about how you’re going to fund your kids’ college education.

[00:14:12] So as we think about planning, In the app, we’ve spent a bunch of time, really helping customers understand what their healthcare costs are going to look like. There’s a known piece, and then there’s an unknown. So the known as thinking about your Medicare insurance, the unknown is what sort of critical illnesses you might face really, and what sort of long-term care you might need.

[00:14:30] It’s really helping customers understand how insured do they want to be as they navigate these decisions. That question of how ensure they want to be is really critical. We did an analysis recently in partnership with Katie curric, where we looked at consumers who were applying for Medicare this year and enrolling in Medicare advantage.

[00:14:47] And what we saw was that there’s a number of Medicare advantage plans that on a short-term basis are really low cost. And so they can feel good for your budget on a monthly basis. But the reality is that if you, um, have a critical illness like cancer, or you end up being very under-insured. And so this analysis showed that the consumer.

[00:15:04] Who had a low premium Medicare advantage plan ended up losing four years on their retirement score when they, when they had a critical illness, because there were so many out-of-pocket costs. So this is a whole new world for this consumer. This consumer, many of them have had their healthcare covered or paid for by their employer.

[00:15:21] And these are really big decisions. And I think particularly for women who tend to live longer, really understanding the healthcare decisions you’re making, um, in your fifties and sixties can actually have really significant implications later on in life.

Hanh Brown: [00:15:35] Very true. It seems like often retirement health is as much of a financial issue as it is an actual health issue.

[00:15:43] Would you agree with that?

Rhian Horgan: [00:15:45] Absolutely again, then go back to this $280,000 number. It’s it? It is financial. And I think what’s interesting is that the financial services industries doesn’t treat it as financial. And so that when we think about the unique position that we’re taking, I still vote to help our consumers is really thinking about this as part of the plan.

[00:16:04] But I think when you typically talk to a financial advisor, health is viewed as a health issue rather than as a financial issue.
[00:16:10] Hanh Brown: [00:16:10] That’s great. So with regard to your app, people can find you on the website and iOS in what other means can

Rhian Horgan: [00:16:16] people find you? Yeah, you can. Um, you can go online. It’s www dot silver, S I L V U r.com.
[00:16:24] We’re currently available as an iOS app in 2021. We’ll also be launching. The website, so that if you’re, if you just like to browse the web, or even if you’re an Android user, that you’ll be able to access information on the web.

Hanh Brown: [00:16:37] Great. Great. So on a personal level, what do you think is your biggest strength that enables you to have a unique, impactful on, let’s say the baby boomers with our financial vitality.

Rhian Horgan: [00:16:48] So, if I reflect back on my career pre starting silver, I would go back actually to one of our core values at silver, which is being human in a world that sees numbers. I worked in financial services for 17 years, but I would say that I was an accidental employee of a financial services company. I did not grow up around people in finance, but I found the real life applicability of financial, financial concepts and financial terms really attractive to me when I was in university.

[00:17:16] When I think about my time at JP Morgan, I was one of these people who was really close to the customer and really wanted to empower my customers. I had customers who had built amazing businesses, but they weren’t necessarily financial geniuses, but they were really smart. And so I learned really early on that.

[00:17:33] You have to be able to communicate financial concepts in different languages to different consumers. And when I think about what we’re doing now at silver, that really has played out in how we’ve actually invested in design, how we’ve invested in making the app really inclusive and met our customer where they are, which is our customer is fearful of running out of money in retirement.

[00:17:53] How do we empower them? We don’t empower them by showing them lots of graphs and Monte Carlo simulations. We empower them by meeting them where they are with a score that very simply tells them how long their money is going to last in retirement. So this learning how to translate con complex financial concepts.

[00:18:11] I did it for 17 years when I was at JP Morgan and we’re using a new set of digital tools. And that frankly, I think allows us to go even further than I was able to go before through this technology infrastructure.

Hanh Brown: [00:18:22] Great, great. One thing I want to add is spending, managing your finances. It’s often an emotional issue, right?
[00:18:31] How do people. Millennials, let’s say thirties, forties at any age group, what can they do to remove that emotion in managing their finances?

Rhian Horgan: [00:18:43] This is where I think technology is making it a lot easier for all of us, which is by connecting our accounts with plaid, which is owned by visa. It’s a very easy to get a quick read.

[00:18:53] Even on a daily basis of what your spending looks like. I think one of the big, interesting insights from our customers over the course of COVID has been actually how much they’re saving. So their spending has dropped. Um, it’s not surprising in some ways, because they’re not driving to work, so they don’t have gas expenses.

[00:19:10] They’re not traveling. But I think the things that are probably most interesting is how their spending patterns are changing and will likely to stay that way. And an example I would just give you is around entertainment. Our customer was more likely to have that. A year long subscription to a span of a sports team.

[00:19:26] Tickets was more likely to go to the movies. And now what they’re doing is they’re canceling those tickets. They’re buying Netflix, they’re buying ESPN plus. And so our customers on average are seeing over $250 a month in reduced spending that. Adds up over time that can add two or three years to your retirement score.

[00:19:44] So what I think is really interesting about COVID is that we’re seeing all these new patterns and how consumers are spending. And many of them I think, are going to be here to stay. And many of these are actually really good for our customers. Bottom line, when it comes to retirement security.

Hanh Brown: [00:19:57] I agree. We’ve cancel our gym membership, eating out less, maybe to support the local restaurants. We still do some carry out, but yeah, you’re right. Spending is less. Just because of the uncertainty with the next months and years to come.

Rhian Horgan: [00:20:12] Yeah. And look on, after I look at we’re gonna, it’s going to be a year, right.

[00:20:15] That we’re at this by the time as things hopefully start to normalize and a year people’s patterns change. And I really believe that a lot of these patterns won’t be on done.

Hanh Brown: [00:20:23] Do you have anything else that you would like to share?

Rhian Horgan: [00:20:26] So I think, look, I, at the end of the day, our goal at silver is to really empower this next act for the consumer, for anyone that works for a big company, we have a really exciting retirement store where we partner with other brands who can deliver great products and services to this customer.

[00:20:41] And so as examples, we have partners who are helping our customers navigate ACA. Medicare trust and wills mortgage refinancing. So if you work for a company that’s really excited about helping this consumer, we’d love to have a conversation about including you in our show,

Hanh Brown: [00:20:57] include the app, the website, and so forth into the show notes as well.

Rhian Horgan: [00:21:01] All right. Thank you.


Rhian’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rhianhorgan/

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