Most people want to invest and save for the future, but often they don’t know how to get started. Wealthsimple, a Toronto-based online investment platform, aims to change that. By offering automated investment services, the company makes sophisticated investing more accessible and affordable.
“Our mission is to be the most human financial institution in the world,” says Kate Chippindale, Wealthsimple’s partnership marketing lead. “We do that by acting in the best interest of our clients, allowing them to have open and honest conversations with our experienced financial advisors, and by making investing more accessible to a larger group of people.”
Wealthsimple serves more than 175,000 clients in the U.S., U.K. and Canada, while relying on Slack to help it deliver fast, efficient customer support. We recently met with Chippindale and her colleague, partnership marketing manager Emma Aylon, to hear how Slack helps Wealthsimple serve clients across time zones, establish a solid internal communication base, and build a strong culture of transparency.
Avoiding email clutter and keeping employees project-focused with Slack channels
When it comes to day-to-day teamwork, Chippindale says, Slack has taken email’s place almost entirely. Wealthsimple employees work in Slack channels: dedicated spaces to share messages, tools and files; ask questions; get feedback; and land on decisions.
“I was able to quickly transition into my new role because I could make relevant announcements and tie up any loose ends in Slack channels—then leave those channels when they were no longer relevant for me.”
Wealthsimple employees stay up to date by following the channels that are specific to their work. That way, everyone who’s directly involved with a project knows where to contribute—freeing their inboxes from unnecessary cc’s, forwards and reply-all messages. Employees can then leave a channel when they wrap up a project.
Aylon says that when she recently joined a new team at Wealthsimple, communicating in Slack channels made the process much smoother. “I was able to quickly transition into my new role because I could make relevant announcements and tie up any loose ends in Slack channels—then leave those channels when they were no longer relevant for me,” she says. “Slack’s helped several people transition internally into their new roles, which is really great for employee development overall.”
Responding to time-sensitive client queries through Slack
Wealthsimple offers automated investment services; that means investors’ portfolios are created and managed using algorithms. When clients sign up, they input information about their financial situation and goals, and the platform generates a personalized, diversified portfolio.
Everything is automated, so clients don’t have to pay the broker and advisor fees associated with traditional investment firms. Wealthsimple’s client success team is available, however, if a client has a question or needs to make a transfer. When clients call, Aylon says, it’s usually to check on the status of deposits, withdrawals and transfers. With Slack, a member of the client success team can instantly relay questions to the appropriate back-office team.
“Usually we can answer questions right on the spot [while the client is on the phone],” she explains. “But with Slack, we’re able to communicate directly with the person we need to get an answer from, so we can have a quick turnaround in terms of solving more-complex issues that come to light.”
Slack also gives Wealthsimple customers a competitive edge in Toronto’s housing market. According to Aylon, houses in Toronto are usually on the market for only a couple of days, if not hours.
“Our client success team often deals with urgent withdrawal requests from clients who are in the process of buying a house and need to put down their down payment as soon as possible,” Aylon says. “Buying a home is a milestone moment for a client, and we want to reduce stress as much as possible because it’s already pretty stressful to begin with.” Wealthsimple’s client success team processes these urgent, same-day withdrawal requests in its
#back-office-funding Slack channel.
Using Slack to create a culture of informative feedback
#Feedback is one of Wealthsimple’s most frequently used channels. Here, employees share anything from typos they find on the website to product feedback they hear from clients.
“We like to say we’re always in beta,” Aylon says, “meaning we’re continuously making improvements to our product based on client feedback. We use the feedback channel to make sure our client success teams have a place to capture feedback and share it with relevant teams, like the product team or leadership team.”
For example, a client might tweet about a feature he’d like to see included in a Wealthsimple product. The customer success team will share that tweet in the feedback channel, tagging the appropriate teams. Team members can ask follow-up questions in the channel or simply state their agreement with a “plus one” emoji.
“A lot of our features come from client feedback,” Aylon says. “It helps us make a product that people love to use.”
“Even though we’re in different time zones and we see each other maybe once a month, we’re always having regular conversations. With Slack, we’re able to exchange feedback and make decisions quickly and avoid blockers.”
Increasing transparency across remote teams with Slack
Chippindale works in Wealthsimple’s Toronto headquarters, while her direct supervisor lives and works in Seattle. With Slack, the distance isn’t a problem.
“Most of the time, it feels like you’re in the same office with the rest of your colleagues,” Chippindale says. “Even though we’re in different time zones and we see each other maybe once a month, or every two months, we’re always having regular conversations. With Slack, we’re able to exchange feedback and make decisions quickly and avoid blockers.”
Aylon and Chippindale say that Slack also supports transparent companywide communication. Leadership regularly shares updates in Wealthsimple’s
#announcements channel. At the team and project level, employees share their updates and milestones in the
#ship-it channel. These processes keep employees in the know even when they’re not directly involved with a particular project or initiative.
Wealthsimple’s day-to-day portfolio management may be automated, but its customer support is always personal. Thanks to Slack, the company has created seamless internal communication processes, freeing up employees to spend more time helping their clients grow their nest eggs.