Acorns, the financial management service focused on getting low- and middle-income households to invest and save responsibly, has reached 3 million users in the United States.
The company has roughly $800 million in assets under management, with accounts coming from primarily low and middle income customers across all fifty states, according to Acorns co-founder and chief executive Noah Kerner.
Unlike other savings and investment services — like the automated advisory services on offer from Betterment or Wealthfront, or the no-fee stock and cryptocurrency trading service from Robinhood — Acorns is trying to introduce responsible investing principles and savings methods to consumers who have never had the option before.
“I’m not focused on people with money,” Kerner says. “I care about hard working Americans who are trying to build a better life every day.”
There are a few mechanisms that have driven the growth of the service — from the “found money” offer where companies will pay a certain percentage of a purchase or a set dollar amount toward a into user’s Acorns account to boost savings.
There are now over 200 brand partners in the company’s “found money” program including Nike, HotelTonight, Dollar Shave Club — as well as Apple, AirBNB and Zappos. The most recent addition — and the one that conceivably has the biggest reach among mom and pop consumers is Sam’s Club (which will automatically invest whenever an Acorns user shops at online or in a store). In all, Acorns has managed to invest $2 million into customer accounts through the partnerships.
Acorns has also integrated its service with PayPal recently — so PayPal customers can access Acorns via its website and mobile app.
All of this is contributing to a huge boost in new accounts. According to Kerner, Acorns added 270,000 accounts in January alone and added over 500,000 accounts in the last three months.
Soon there will be even more ways for Acorns customers to invest — and with better tax advantages. The company will be rolling out an automated individual retirement account feature, which already counts over 300,000 people on the waiting list.
An IRA tool will allow Acorns customers to deduct the contributions into the accounts from their taxes (the investments are treated as pre-tax income) and are only taxed as income on retirement — so investors don’t have to worry about any capital gains.
“I really do believe that the next generation of great financial companies are going to be defined by integrity,” says Kerner. “We’re talking about hardworking Americans who are saving 5% to 7% … of their income. We’re not a wealth management platform for the 5%… I don’t give a fuck about people who have money. I’m focused on people who are working hard to achieve the American dream.”