Finance is going to school

Managing your money isn’t rocket science, but it can be complicated, especially to people just starting out. Unsure of the best options and strategies, beginners often falter long before they can make any progress on a solid plan, let alone actually set and achieve financial goals. And with a burgeoning millennial class coming into a massive influx of wealth as they enter their earning years, it’s worth the time to consider this approach.

There appears to be hope brewing in the industry though in the form of upstarts and alliances. Two offerings in particular look particularly promising: Better Money Habits and LearnVest.

Better Money Habits

This online service is a joint effort and partnership between Khan Academy and BofA. These are two powerhouses in their respective spaces: finance and online learning.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy started out as a guy trying to tutor his nephew remotely. Now it is a massive hub of open source educational resources for learners, educators and parents. It is arguably the most popular elearning source, and it’s open source. It’s like the Craigslist of online education. Sign up with your existing social media account or create your own new account. Sign in. Start learning.


BofA has been searching for upstarts to improve their stronghold on banking services in the US market, taking part in the FinTech movement among other avenues. This partnership appears to be fairly new.

Better Money Habits website

The site is a clearly co-branded experience. However when you dive just one level into the content, you are drawn into a highly branded BofA experience, which leads me to believe that this content is curated by BofA and they’re simply using the Khan Academy elearning backbone with highly branded instructional content.

There are learning sections for: Credit, Saving and Budgeting, Debt, and Home Buying and Renting. Each section has between five and ten lessons, and each lesson has several videos to watch. Once a video is watched, you accrue points which must indicate your level of familiarity with the content.

I started one video, skipped to the end to se the branding, and was awarded 100 points for my efforts. I’m not sure that’s an accurate gauge of my understanding of the materials, but it does measure my level of engagement on the page. I know the marketing folks at BofaA are smiling.


LearnVest addresses this directly: they acknowledge the fact that investing requires knowledge. They tell people upfront they’ll have one-on-one guidance, and as a general investor that sounds reassuring on both counts.

  1. Investing requires knowledge. Knowledge requires learning. Learning requires focus, practice and dedication. And it requires the appropriate rubrics to help map out your thought process and correct it when there are conflicts.
  2. Effective practice sometimes requires coaching. Coaching helps to focus and optimize our efforts. Coaches can spot areas where individuals need to improve and where they excel.

LearnVest has that built into their DNA. Learn to invest with them. They’ve got coaches to help you learn what you need to know and how to apply it to your situation. Pricing is structured along a graduated monthly scale: from free for do-it-yourself guidance and access to information and tools, to $69.95 for unlimited contact with your coach, loads of tools and online instruction.

Deeper dives into their product offering and services would be required to give a full analysis of the matchup between marketing promise and  product delivery, but it appears to be an outstanding marketing pitch at face value. It may well be that the offering leaves you wanting more if you don’t opt for the premium plan, but I’m not able to indulge.


These two sites and services are fundamentally different in approach and business plan.

  • one is flypaper for new business for a banking behemoth, and
  • one is an upstart trying to capitalize on the catchwords of the day

But both are targeting prospects through the educational and knowledge transfer lens. This is a fundamental shift to an age-old question: how do you get people to trust that you’re the ones with the answers?


  • http://www.learnvest.com/personal-financial-planning-program/
  • http://www.bettermoneyhabits.com/
  • http://whartonmagazine.com/blogs/millennial-wealth-management-a-paradigm-shift/


Drummer. Techie. Futbolisto. Daddy.

Leave a Reply