Gusto’s Jeanette Quick has been in the financial services industry for about 15 years, and had a front row seat to what the financial regulatory landscape looks like.
Previously, Quick has worked as senior counsel on the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. But then, she pivoted into the fintech and has been in the space ever since.
Now, she serves as Gusto’s Head of Policy and Head of Financial Services Legal. Gusto provides a platform that aims to help small businesses by providing full-service payroll, health insurance, 401(k)s and other tools. The company was founded about 10 years ago and has served more than 100,000 small businesses.
Quick has been imperative in helping the company rollout its offering Gusto Cashout, which aims to help small business workers have access to earned wages early for free. She also helped the company with its effort in all things concerning the Paycheck Protection Program.
Quick spoke with FinLedger about her role in rolling out Gusto Cashout, advice she has for woman-owned small businesses and what’s ahead.
FL: I know you’ve played an important role in the rollout of Gusto Cashout, tell me about that offering and your involvement in it?
Quick: It helps people if they’re looking for an alternative to payday loans, over drafting their bank accounts or paying credit card late fees. It helps them manage their bills and to do it all on their own schedule. We’ve created it with certain guardrails in place. We make sure that people always have 60% of their paycheck left on payday, they have access to it twice a month up to $500 each time. We also have certain amounts of information that we use internally to make sure that they have been paid in the past on the platform, for example. But we know that from internal surveys that we’ve done, that a lot of people would otherwise have used a predatory product, or would have paid fees with those other products. We’re really proud of the fact that we’re providing this option for people to be able to access funds on a no cost basis.
FL: Why is Gusto Cashout important?
Quick: There’s a lot of research out there, some of which Gusto has done, but as well as other entities like Financial Health Network that have looked into the future of work, that has shown that creating financially healthy workplaces leads to higher workplace satisfaction, and less turnover. It is part of our vision of creating a category of benefits for employees of small businesses. That’s what we call financial health benefits, but we’re really thinking about it holistically. Right now, it feels like 401(k) is the financial benefit that most people are aware of and many have at their workplaces but there’s a whole suite of financial health benefits that employers and companies like ours can help provide to employees of small businesses.
FL: What advice do you have for women-owned small businesses as part of our Women in Fintech series?
Quick: The PPP is open again, so we were instrumental in creating workable partnerships for PPP — we put in place nine partnerships in the last round. This time, we have a number of partnerships as well, and helped our small businesses secure more than $3.5 billion
in PPP funding. Part of what we have also focused on is the fact that a lot of businesses were left out of PPP, and some women business owners in particular were not able to access those PPP funds. We’ve continued to wave the flag and raise issues with policymakers about changes that need to happen to PPP and help make sure that targeted aid goes to those that are hardest hit — like women-owned businesses.
One thing I would say is that women business owners should really evaluate whether PPP is right for them. There’s a lot of value to PPP in that they can have loans forgiven. But it also may not be right for everybody, we have built a resource hub for COVID relief that is popular. We update it every single week and it has literally thousands of resources for state, federal and local grants and loan programs that are available.
There are a lot of options out there for women business owners. First, check out our COVID hub. Second, evaluate whether they’ve already taken PPP, whether they should take out a PPP loan, whether that’s the first draw or the second draw. Then third, if for some reason PPP doesn’t work for them and they’re not seeing enough relief in the resources that we’ve listed out. I mean, it’s also helpful for them to let their story be told to policymakers, so raise their hand and talk to policymakers about the ways that the relief out there is not helping them.
FL: What is your overall strategy in 2021?
Quick: Gusto’s ethos around financial products is that financial products should help people avoid debt, not create more debt. We were very intentional in introducing savings alongside [Gusto] Cashout. We believe that every company can do this, and it should become the standard for payroll companies to provide financial benefits.
We also think that any other business that uses hidden fees, or predatory banking practices, when providing early access to earned wages should cease to exist. To give a little context, there’s a number of businesses that provide earned wage access products, and they’re often doing it in a very non-transparent way where there’s hidden fees, they aren’t disclosing how much that access to earned wages actually costs the individual user. We recommend that there needs to be more scrutiny of that industry and regulation of how they’re providing information to consumers.