American Express eyes financial planning tech with startup BodesWell

Pilot set to last six months for users with syncing ability on Plaid platform

American Express has teamed up with seven-person startup BodesWell to launch a pilot of its first ever self-service digital financial planning tool. The pilot ― set to last for six months ― kicked off on July 11 for approximately 25,000 select Amex cardmembers.

The new product is designed to give users a complete picture of their financial health and help them make and achieve major life goals, such as buying a house or retirement, TechCrunch reported on Friday.

The tool “takes into account income, assets, expenses and liabilities — what cash flow looks like holistically so that users can drag & drop to plan life events,” Bellow told TechCrunch.

Amex Ventures’ Julia Huang, who led the investment and strategy around the new product, told the publication she was “drawn to the fact that it was not a round-up savings tool, but rather a holistic tool to understand your full financial picture that could be used to plan for the financial impact of your life decisions.”

Before deciding to invest in BodesWell, Huang said Amex Ventures — which over time has backed more than 70 startups — had “evaluated the space quite extensively.”

And the numbers can prove it. In November, the credit card giant quietly invested in 401(k) startup Guideline’s $85 million Series D round. By December, the company participated in an extension of employment verification startup Truework’s $30 million Series B round.

Amex Ventures’ mission is to invest in and identify capabilities in areas that are most relevant to American Express such as B2B services, data analytics, consumer commerce, fraud prevention and cybersecurity. But it’s also increasingly focused on serving small businesses and personal financial planning.

According to Tech Crunch, Amex Ventures also quietly invested in Bodeswell in late 2020 while planning out the development of the financial tool.

Amex ventures also seemed to take advantage of Plaid and Visa calling off their $5.3 million merger in January as the financial plan will sync with users financial information via startup Plaid so it can “update in real time.”

Overall, the financial planning product is completely free during the pilot phase, with no word yet on what American Express will charge afterwards.

“We’re gauging first for engagement and the power of the product for our customers,” Huang told TechCrunch. “We want to make sure the product resonates and that we iterate on the product to make sure it’s good for the broader population. Our primary goal is that our customers use it and find it valuable.”

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