On Friday, December 8, 2017 - just one week before PensionBee’s third birthday - I had the pleasure of signing an investment agreement for State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), the world’s third largest asset manager, to take a strategic minority stake in PensionBee. In doing so, SSGA became our largest external shareholder and the PensionBee team couldn’t be more excited! Here’s why.
A long-term partner
We have been working with SSGA since PensionBee was just a few sentences on a piece of paper with a bad (albeit soon-to-be-improved!) logo. We were introduced by a founding investor in PensionBee and when the intro email landed with our future SSGA team, it simply said: “Can you guys have a quick look at the attached and we should then discuss for 5 mins….” The attached was a 1-page summary of the business idea and the precursor to our very first meeting.
A real desire to help us innovate in the pension industry
When I first walked onto the top floor of State Street’s London HQ, I was nervous and excited. The 1-pager had turned into a PowerPoint, but there was a lot more to do before we would become the pension manager we are today. Even then, SSGA took a real interest in our plan to help people consolidate small pots and get on top of their retirement savings. When we asked for an appropriate fund to help people save more efficiently, they showed us the Tracker Plan, one of the core products on our platform today. When they were gathering ideas on how to get people saving for their Contribute magazine, our opinion mattered. SSGA have always supported our unique approach to helping people save for the future and we can’t wait to roll this out in other ways and in other countries.
Walking the talk when it comes to gender equality
These days, most people in the world of finance have heard of State Street’s Fearless Girl, a statue that stands off against the Wall Street bull defiantly. She represents the empowerment of women across the business world and she is not just a token. Our investment conversation with SSGA began in September 2016 - when I was 7 months pregnant. As a CEO, raising money when pregnant is daunting and I have read some shocking stories of investor behaviour. But it didn’t matter and I always felt that the firm was incredibly supportive of my family and my 1-year old.
A down to earth team we can have fun with (and who also have a small obsession for bees)
The SSGA team is easy to work with and so down to earth. I suspect this is one of the reasons clients love them and why our cultures mesh so well. When I was in Boston, global HQ, we talked shop at a pasta joint I used to frequent as a student at Harvard. Our investment closing dinner was at The Sichuan - a trendy Chinese restaurant next to Old Street. In SSGA, we know we have a partner we can change the industry with while also having fun, whether that involves discussing the shape of the perfect bee or the best ways to get people in control of their retirement.
Welcome on board SSGA team! Here’s to making pension savings better.