An Interview With Jason Hartman
The desire to be a lifelong learner. The pace of technological advancement is ever-increasing. To succeed, we all need to have the willingness and capacity for change as a constant in our lives. Predictions for the future have always underestimated the pace of technological change, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. When we went into COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, I immediately registered to take virtual classes from Harvard to use that lockdown time to continue challenging myself.
The way we bank has changed dramatically over the last decade. It was not too long ago when you had to wait in line in a bank to deposit money. Today things are totally different. You can do your banking without ever walking into a bank. In addition, the whole concept of money has changed. In the recent past, money usually meant bills and coins. But today, the concept of money has expanded to include digital currency and NFTs. What other innovations should we expect to see in banking in the short and medium term?
To address this, we are talking to leaders in the banking, finance, and fintech worlds, to discuss the future of banking and money over the next few years. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Timothy Rooney.
Timothy Rooney is the President of Marygold & Co. Timothy has spent 30 years building new businesses for large financial corporations, including exchange-traded funds, mutual funds and retirement plan organizations, and is excited to bring his experience to the next generation of financial innovation at Marygold & Co. His educational background includes a Master’s Degree from NYU’s Stern School of Business and executive education coursework at Harvard and The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started in this industry?
I’ve been in financial services my entire career. After obtaining my master’s degree from New York University way back in the 1990s, I started a consulting firm. That firm specialized in helping large financial institutions launch new businesses. For over 20 years, I’ve provided specialized assistance to numerous ventures in navigating the complexities that mutual fund companies, retirement plan businesses and exchange-traded funds (ETF) companies pose.
Working closely with players across the financial sector allowed me to witness the ever-evolving nature of the industry and stay abreast of the emerging trends, technologies and regulations that sparked us to create Marygold & Co. That in-depth industry knowledge enables me to offer relevant and valuable guidance as our talented team works to empower people to take control of their money via our unique digital banking and financial services solution.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Oh my, where do I begin? In my mind, most of the interesting things that happen involve the people you meet along the way. Two of the most interesting I have met are John Wooden, the famous UCLA basketball coach, and Harry Markowitz, the creator of modern portfolio theory. These two men were both exceptional in their chosen fields; one was perhaps the greatest sports coach in American history, and the other a Nobel Prize winner in economics. Yet both of these exceptional men showed incredible humility — impressive given their stature. Both of these individuals had a greatness that was palpable.
I first met Dr. Markowitz when I was an undergrad student in New York City, but this was before he won the Nobel Prize and the flood of attention that comes with it. Years later, when I was helping a firm in California start a mutual fund business, I called him up. This was after he won the Nobel Prize and lived in San Diego. I had the opportunity to hire him to give presentations for the company I was working with. He was quick to give other people credit for his success and said that he never envisioned how his Modern Portfolio Theory would become so important to the world of modern investing.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Coach Wooden famously said, “Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Character is what you really are; reputation is merely what others think you are.”
Making business decisions, even significant decisions in high-pressure situations, becomes easy when we focus on what is right. Within Marygold & Co., we always bring the conversation back to this basic question, which usually simplifies the discussion.
Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
We just launched our company, Marygold & Co., after building it over the past four years. Marygold & Co. is a full-service financial firm that provides banking, investments and a debit card — all through one simple-to-use mobile app.
Now available for download in both Apple and Google app stores for iOS and Android devices, our cutting-edge application allows users to manage their finances anywhere, anytime — right from their smartphone! With no banking fees, minimums or credit checks, our transformative solution offers real-time payments, Money Pool investment accounts, goal-setting functionality and automated funding options to organize financial lives in one simple place.
We are very excited about our launch!
How do you think this might change the world?
We have all been conditioned in the past to believe that managing our financial lives is complicated and difficult. Our goal at Marygold & Co. is to show our clients that personal financial management can be really straightforward! Ask yourself a few questions, and the answers are apparent. The whole process can be simple.
Access to banking services is a fundamental right, yet many people around the world lack access to traditional banking infrastructure. Traditional banking systems often involve time-consuming processes, physical branch visits, various fees and confusing procedures. Our solution bridges these gaps to equip individuals with a convenient, easily accessible platform that effectively reduces the barriers to smart financial management.
What most excites you about the banking or payments industry as it is today? Can you explain what you mean?
What most excites me about today’s banking or payments industry is the technology available that allows us to truly simplify our financial lives. In other parts of the world, people commonly use one app to meet all of their financial needs. With the help of our app, this level of integration and convenience is increasing in popularity in the U.S., and seeing people in America start to learn about — and embrace — these possibilities is very exciting.
What most concerns you about the banking or payments industry as it is today? What would you suggest needs to be done to address that?
Unfortunately, bad actors can also harness technological advancements to compromise the security of individual accounts, digital marketplaces and the industry as a whole. At Marygold & Co., we work with more than half a dozen companies behind the scenes to protect our clients against fraud. Using best-in-class technology partners for things like know-your-customer concerns is important.
Fighting technology with technology can help address these pressing industry-wide concerns. Whether leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze oceans of information to identify patterns and anomalies or robust encryption, secure authentication mechanisms and secure communication protocols to help protect sensitive customer data and transactions conducted through mobile devices, harnessing the latest and greatest in fintech helps proactively detect and respond to threats, ultimately building a robust and secure financial services industry.
How would you articulate how the concept of money has changed in recent times? Is it really a change? How is it still the same? Can you explain what you mean?
I think the concept of money is always changing, but these changes certainly accelerated with the pandemic in 2020. As a society, we very quickly moved into a time when using cash is becoming obsolete. As more of us get used to using digital solutions to power most of our daily lives, cash and checks will become a novelty. Just a few years ago, you would see people on social media complaining that schools didn’t teach basic finance skills, like writing a check. But now, that need to write a check is disappearing. My children will probably never own a checkbook. And, of course, cryptocurrency is its own topic that we will save for another day.
Part of the motivation behind Marygold & Co. is to help younger generations adapt to the constant evolution within the finance industry. The Marygold & Co. app incorporates features like PayAnyone™, where users can send payments directly from their accounts to anyone they want, as long as they have their mobile phone number or email address. No more asking friends if they have a specific app on their phone to receive a payment.
Based on your vantage point as an insider in the finance industry, what innovations should we expect to see in banking in the short and medium term?
In the short term, we will see greater acceptance of people using their phones for financial tasks that used to be considered complicated and often demanded in-person assistance. Taking loans, preparing a will, and other to-dos will all be done on your phone.
As more of us embrace using financial apps instead of old-school banks, we will likely see another wave of banking consolidation similar to the one we experienced a few decades ago. This shift will take a bit of time because inertia is strong when changing banks or brokerage firms, but fintech solutions are already driving significant change across the finance sector.
How has the pandemic changed the way banks interact and engage with their customers?
Most large banks were slow to react during the pandemic. They were unprepared for full-time work from home, so I think many institutions focused more on personnel issues than customer success. That is why we saw fintech firms fill the void. With more people now understanding that they can do their banking while sitting at home in their pajamas, why would they ever go back to the old way?
In your particular experience, how has the pandemic changed the way you interact with, and engage your customers?
Our business model focuses on client engagement via our app. Users can connect with us at any time from anywhere in the world, and we can connect with them on their mobile devices. We were already working on this app that provides all of your banking, investments and payments in one place when the pandemic started, so for us, it reinforced the very real need for the tool we were building.
I’m very interested in the importance of user experience. How much of your interactions have moved to digital such as chatbots, encrypted messaging apps, phone, or video calls? How has this shift impacted the user and customer experience? What challenges do these apps present when used as a customer engagement tool?
The user experience drives everything we do at Marygold & Co.
I don’t see any challenges with these tools — I just see opportunities. As a full-service financial company, meeting our clients where they expect us to be is very important to our success. Very few clients want to call a toll-free number and wait to speak with a person. We offer our clients a chatbot, email and a notification feature that allows us to send a note to all of our clients, or a subset, in a flash. While the vast majority of clients prefer these digital tools, we also have a toll-free number for those that appreciate the old-school approach.
If you could design the perfect communication feature or system to help your business, what would it be?
We think we already have that in our notification system within our app. The unique communication feature allows us to communicate with our clients in an instant, 24/7, as needed.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Modern Finance, Banking and Fintech industries?
- The desire to be a lifelong learner. The pace of technological advancement is ever-increasing. To succeed, we all need to have the willingness and capacity for change as a constant in our lives. Predictions for the future have always underestimated the pace of technological change, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. When we went into COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, I immediately registered to take virtual classes from Harvard to use that lockdown time to continue challenging myself.
- Emotional intelligence. Some people still call these “soft skills,” but that is misleading. Emotional intelligence is much more important than IQ! When I started in fInance, you never heard the word empathy. Now we know that empathy is a skilled leader’s most important character trait. Empathy can be learned and improved upon if you make it a strategic focus.
- Character. With many things in business, there are grey areas, but not character. Character is a binary trait — you either have it or you don’t.
- Positivity. History is written by the optimists!
- Perspective. Experience is not always necessary, but with experience comes perspective.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The democratization of financial services. Big banks still offer “private banking” departments to their wealthy clients. You get special treatment and services if you have a million dollars with the bank. We believe that those special services should be available to everyone! At Marygold & Co., we like to say that using our app is like having a private banker on your phone.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Download the Marygold & Co. app!
Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!
About The Interviewer: Jason Hartman is the Founder and CEO of Empowered Investor. Jason has been involved in several thousand real estate transactions and has owned income properties in 11 states and 17 cities. Empowered Investor helps people achieve The American Dream of financial freedom by purchasing income property in prudent markets nationwide. Jason’s Complete Solution for Real Estate Investors™ is a comprehensive system providing real estate investors with education, research, resources and technology to deal with all areas of their income property investment needs. Through Jason’s podcasts, educational events, referrals, mentoring and software to track your investments, investors can easily locate, finance and purchase properties in these exceptional markets with confidence and peace of mind.
Starting with very little, Jason, while still in college at the age of 19, embarked on a career in real estate. While brokering properties for clients, he was investing in his own portfolio along the way. Through creativity, persistence and hard work, he earned a number of prestigious industry awards and became a young multi-millionaire. Jason purchased a California real estate brokerage firm that was later acquired by Coldwell Banker. He combined his dedication and business talents to become a successful entrepreneur, public speaker, author, and media personality. Over the years he developed his Complete Solution for Real Estate Investors™ where his innovative firm educates and assists investors in acquiring prudent investments nationwide for their portfolio. Jason’s sought after educational events, speaking engagements, and his popular “Creating Wealth Podcast” inspire and empower hundreds of thousands of people in 189 countries worldwide.
While running his successful real estate and media businesses, Jason also believes that giving back to the community plays an important role in building strong personal relationships. He established The Jason Hartman Foundation in 2005 to provide financial literacy education to young adults providing the all-important real world skills not taught in school which are the key to the financial stability and success of future generations. We’re in a global monetary crisis caused by decades of misguided policies and the cycle of financial dependence has to be broken, literacy and self-reliance are a good start. Visit JasonHartman.com for free materials and resources.