Goal: Onboard new users,
drive engagement
Region: United States
Industry: Personal financial management

Betterment needed to seamlessly onboard more users and drive engagement through a more personalized user experience.

With Plaid, Betterment gained access to the diverse financial datasets and insights they needed to keep users engaged.

Growing the lifetime value of users

Betterment is the largest independent online financial advisor in the U.S. with more than $33 billion of assets under management. Founded in 2008 during the global financial crisis, Betterment was among the first to pioneer the use of automated technology to make investing easier, better, and more accessible. 

Today, fintech is the new normal, with more than 5.9 billion downloads of digital finance apps in 2021. But this mass adoption of fintech doesn’t always translate to engaged users. According to Andrew Chen at Andreessen Horowitz, “The average app loses 77% of users after three days. Within 30 days, 90% leave. Within three months, 95% are gone.”

How does an investment app like Betterment beat the odds and go from zero users to more than 730,000 engaged users in such a short amount of time? For Ashley Curran, Director of Product, it starts with obsessing over the user experience.       

“Keeping the customer at the forefront of our minds continues to set us apart from a user experience perspective but also in terms of the decisions we make—from the features we support to our product roadmap.”

To help Betterment keep the user experience front and center, they turned to Plaid.

91% of users maintain a higher median balance

58% more investment account openers fund their account

1.8 days
Customers fund an account an average of 1.8 days faster

Speeding up funding through faster aggregation

Most digital finance apps struggle to source robust held-away account information due to low-fidelity data and poor conversion rates. And because account funding workflows are slow and prone to errors, it makes it even more challenging to grow assets under management.

With Plaid Link, Betterment users can connect their financial accounts in less than 7 seconds. Link also instantly authenticates accounts at more than 12,000 banks, including community banks and credit unions, creating a more seamless and secure bank-to-bank payment experience.

“The backbone of our funding flows is built on our integration with Plaid Link. Enabling customers to instantly connect their checking and savings accounts allows us to provide a nearly seamless experience when customers want to deposit funds to Betterment,” says Curran.

Once a user connects a financial account, Betterment uses Plaid’s Account Verification Suite, Auth and Identity, to verify bank account information when users fund their accounts. They complement this with Plaid Balance to cut down ACH returns and protect themselves from fraudulent users.

Once the user verifies their Account, Betterment leverages Plaid Transactions to instantly begin offering holistic financial insights, like what a user’s net worth is—not just their Betterment balance.

This safer, more streamlined approach to ACH funding makes growing assets under management more predictable. Betterment reports that users who link with Plaid fund their accounts at a rate 58% higher than those who link manually—and an average of 1.8 days faster.

How it works


Betterment's onboarding flow asks users to link their bank accounts. That triggers Link, Plaid’s simple front-end module.

Users link accounts by entering their bank username and password.

That’s it! In a matter of seconds, Betterment can access the data they need to authenticate accounts and onboard new users.

Increasing lifetime value of users

Speeding up the aggregation process also helps drive user engagement. Betterment users with a Plaid linked account are 35% more likely to have a funded IRA account. In the world of personal finance, this number is a leading indicator of user commitment to your platform.

“IRAs aren’t transactional money that you depend on on a day-to-day basis. It’s meant to be set aside for the long-term and grow over time. That’s why we love seeing funded IRAs because it shows us that this customer is planning on sticking around for a while.”

Betterment reports that 91% of customers with a Plaid linked account have a higher median balance than those who don’t use Plaid. Faster aggregation, as it turns out, is a leading driver and predictor of the lifetime value of a customer.

Enabling customers to instantly connect their checking and savings accounts allows us to provide a nearly seamless experience when customers want to deposit funds to Betterment.

Ashley Curran, Director of Product, Betterment

Driving engagement

Betterment uses Plaid to leverage user permissioned data to offer more personalized financial recommendations and insights. Unlike other financial management platforms that deliver one-size-fits-all investment strategies to their entire customer base, Plaid allows Betterment to get access to better data, allowing them to meet the unique needs of each user.

“As with everything in fintech, the more we know about our customers, the better we’re able to help them make decisions that support their goals, be it as simple as growing their wealth or as specific as retiring sooner. This is partly why we encourage our customers to aggregate all of their financial assets to their Betterment account. Having this information available directly correlates to our recommendations. The more we know, the better we can help.”

By making it easier for Betterment’s users to connect their accounts, customers who use Plaid set 36% more goals on average than those who don’t. This allows Betterment to offer even more pathways for them to achieve their goals.

Making financial management easy

Despite tumultuous markets, Betterment continues to help their clients stay on track to meet their long-term financial goals. In April, 2021 they announced a record-breaking close to the quarter, adding 56,000 new users to the platform, up 116% year-over-year. Since then, they’ve secured $160 million in growth capital and acquired Makara, an innovative manager of crypto portfolios, which will allow Betterment users and financial advisors to invest in crypto alongside their existing investments, in an all-in-one platform.

For Curran, this growth and accelerated roadmap all goes back to their shared commitment with Plaid: to create a better user experience.

“Our goals with Plaid are simple: to make funding a Betterment account as easy as possible so that when a user chooses to share their financial information with us, we can play back that data accurately and responsibly so that we establish trust.”