What TBD Health is to sexual wellness and Bluemoth to hearing wellness, Facet is to financial wellness.

The virtually-based startup describes its mission on its website as wanting to help people “thrive in every face of your life” by providing them “valuable financial services, advice, and a partner to help you reach your full potential.” Financial literacy is beneficial to anyone, but is especially important to members of the disability community. The reality is people with disabilities are, by and large, amongst the groups with the most limited financial resources. As I reported back in early April, the existence of ABLE accounts in states across the country stands as recognizance of this issue. Although there are exceptions, particularly with disabled working in Silicon Valley, the government’s rules and regulations on benefits such as Social Security make it difficult, if not downright impossible, for the majority of disabled people to achieve any sort of financial autonomy. There is a lot to unpack about this cold, hard truth that go beyond the scope of this piece. Suffice it to say, however, ABLE accounts are a godsend for people who wish to save while at the same time keep hold of the benefits they otherwise are entitled to.

“What we’re doing at Facet is one of those examples of something that’s all consuming,” said Facet chief operating officer Shruti Joshi in an interview with me in late June via videoconference. “[This is] especially because we have a mission that is so important to me in democratizing a service [financial planning] to the underserved mass, affluent American population of 40 million households, and eventually beyond that.”

Joshi, who lives in Manhattan and has a 5-year-old son, is the daughter of immigrant entrepreneurs who moved to the United States in the 1980s. A true globetrotter who has visited over 75 countries, Joshi shared with me she’s long been “fascinated” by people and cultures and what she termed the “psychology of wellness.” She first became involved with Facet as an early investor, as she knew the co-founders and they asked her to invest and join their advisory board. In 2016, she came across some financial statistics, the foremost of which was that money is the number one point of stress in people’s lives. Likewise, money is one of the main causes of divorce in America. Upon learning of these sobering truths, Joshi recalled thinking to herself “there’s just no wellness without financial wellness, period.” That line of thinking led her to invest in Facet and accept the invitation to join its advisory board.

It was at this time when Joshi had an epiphany of sorts.

“I realized I’m getting help on how I live my life and [controlling] the quality of the life that I live,” she said. “People feel less shame when they actually tackle their finances; they feel more control, they feel more peace, they have knowledge that they’re making the right choices. There’s just so much news out there, the content tornado. We want our members to make life and financial decisions with confidence.”

Facet describes its work as having “reimagined the role money plays in life so you can reimagine what’s possible in yours.” The company essentially helps people in financial planning, as members are paired with certified financial planners to help guide them in making prudent decisions on their hard-earned cash. In a nutshell, Facet tries to take a modernized, tech-driven approach to financial planning that upends a lot of the conventional dealings of financial planning. To name just one example, Facet offers a flat fee for membership instead of charging by the investment. As Facet helpfully explains, whereas traditional financial advisors take a cut of whatever one invests, Facet’s fee isn’t tied to investments. The company is incentivized to, as they write, “do what’s best for you in all facets of life.” Instead of paying more as you make more, Facet wants its members to keep more money as they make it.

Joshi explained most people don’t get true financial planning services, which often includes myriad questions such as what marriage will do to disability benefits or other major milestones in life. “I like to say we’re not just democratizing a service. We’re actually redefining it—our model is very different. We turned it on its head,” she said.

When asked about financial considerations for disabled people, Joshi responded by saying it’s the type of personal snapshot that Facet thrives on. It’s important to the company, she said, that they really get to know their members so they help them in making the best possible decisions.

“If you have a disability, there are certain things you’ve got to deal with that somebody without a disability doesn’t have to,” Joshi said. “I think understanding the composition of this country is made up of people with all sorts of different values, drivers, realities, constraints is a huge part of how we thought about our service and the experience we want to create for people. A lot of what we’ve got to do is connect on a deeper level [and] understand the motivators [of people] because ultimately, what we want to do is drive a behavior change [in the financial planning world].”

As to accessibility in a functional sense, Joshi noted Facet has purposely made it as easy and seamless as possible for users and their planners to get together. She said Facet tries hard to “meet people where they are”; there are no offices for someone to drive to or anything like that. They can accommodate meetings with things like captions for phone calls and, after written authorization, are happy to let, say, a disabled person have a third-party (such as an advocate) attend meetings. “There are lots of different ways we think about people with disabilities, but more fundamentally, we offer personalized service,” Joshi said of catering to someone’s needs and tolerances. “We want to, and we’re designed, to help members with those types of situations because that’s life, right? We’re not here just to help people get [return] on their investments—we’re here to help them live the lives they want.”

Feedback on Facet’s services, Joshi told me, has been positive. The company currently serves approximately 13,000 households and 18,000 individuals. Facet is helping “quite a lot” of people right now, she added. The most common piece of feedback Facet receives involves two words: life-changing. According to Joshi, people come to the company and soon realize “we help our members unlock what’s important to them in their life, then use money as a tool to accomplish those things that are important to them.” Moreover, Joshi said there are emotional benefits as well; members are relieved of stressors by having Facet’s help in being proactive and intentional with how best to manage their money.

“We have a Slack channel internally where we celebrate our members wins,” Joshi said. “It’s such an important part of what motivates and drives us is hearing the stories from our members of truly the life-changing moments. We’ve helped members who find out they have a really tough health diagnosis, and we help them plan for it so that they can pay their medical bills. It’s the most rewarding job. I think the life-changing piece is what we hear on various levels. It’s really pretty incredible.”

Looking towards the future, Joshi said Facet’s primary objective is to “enrich everybody’s life beyond expectation.” The company truly believes the services it provides genuinely helps to make financial planning more coherent and, most importantly, more accessible. As for long-term goals, Facet hopes to grow bigger and better. The company aspires to reach even more people and help them lead healthier, happier lives as a result.

“We’d like to change the way Americans live,” she said. “We’d like them to have a very different relationship with finances. We’d like for them to be clear about who they are and how they want to express their identity. We want money to be a tool for that. I think that’s always been our mission. It’s still our mission. We’re on a journey. There’s a lot of work to do. We’re not perfect, but we’re committed to continuing to get better and better and service more and more Americans on our path.”


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