Lead(H)er: Kerri Moriarty, Head of Company Development at Cinch Financial
Kerri Moriarty never expected to end up at a startup. Since a young age, she saw herself being either a lawyer or Britney Spears.
“Looking back, I don’t think a startup would have come up in the top ten guesses of where I’d be. But, I’ve realized that so many people now don’t have a set track. You just find yourself in different professional situations, you kind of wing it and you end up where you end up,” Kerri laughs.
Kerri grew up on Cape Cod with three younger brothers. In 2006, she started her freshman year as a Philosophy major at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. However, Kerri soon realized she had a knack for business and finance -- and a desire to make a lot of money. After her first year, she transferred to Bryant University to finish up her undergraduate degree studying Business and Finance.
“I graduated in 2010. I was graduating in the middle of the recession and it was really tricky to find a job. I ended up working for Prudential as a Financial Advisor, which was a commission-only type of gig They give you a training program and then you’re basically on your own.”
Working as a Financial Advisor for about two-and-a-half years, Kerri learned to be responsible for her own time and run her own successful business, qualifying for the Million Dollar Round Table in her first full year. She helped her clients think about their retirement, life insurance and general planning like buying houses or saving for college. Although it was a valuable experience, Kerri realized she needed a change.
“After a while, I found myself feeling like I didn’t have any work life balance. I was working all the time doing whatever it took, because there was no guarantee of when I would get my next paycheck. After two and a half years, I left Prudential and moved to Partner Advisors, a small consulting company that was owned and started by Sean Collins, who is now the CEO at Cinch.”
As an Associate at Partner Advisors, Kerri helped large companies and organizations create financial products. Shortly after starting at Partner Advisors, Kerri was introduced to Sean’s new business venture, Cinch.
“When I started at Partner Advisors at the beginning of 2013, Sean was already thinking about Cinch. It was still more of an idea then, and he was starting to think through where he wanted to take it. It was an amazing opportunity for me to get involved right at the very beginning. I was on board with Cinch right away and I split my time between both companies until 2015 when I was officially hired at Cinch full-time.”
Kerri is now the Head of Company Development at Cinch.
“Being at a startup, you wear many different hats. There have been times that I’ve been doing more of a Product Manager kind of role, I’ve done our social media and I’m currently doing all of our marketing and branding. I’ve been involved with the financial model, the hiring and recruiting and thinking through who our target audience is. I’m also involved in planning our roadmap, talking to investors and VCs, really every part of the business.”
Although Kerri never expected to end up at a startup, she’s thankful for where she is.
“I think my experience at Cinch, even in only four years has been more valuable than a Master's Degree could be for me. I think that’s the benefit of working in a startup environment and pushing through the entrepreneurial track. I think hands-on experience and what you do day-to-day in a fast-paced startup is so much more valuable than studying from a textbook and trying to apply some of those concepts in theory. I think practice is always better,” Kerri explained.
Having a background in business and finance, experience working with individuals and their financial lives and an understanding of the finance industry from the bank and the company side, Kerri is able to apply this relevant knowledge to her current role.
“At Cinch, we’re building a financial software platform that provides comprehensive guidance to optimize all of your financial decisions. We’ll first deploy Cinch as a website and then as a mobile app but it will continue to evolve over time - so you can imagine using Cinch through the Amazon Alexa in your house or talking to Siri. Cinch will help you pay off your credit cards and your student loan debt in the best way. It will tell you if you’re overpaying on your cell phone plan and if you need to switch carriers. It will break down how much you’re bringing in each month and how much is going out, helping you to think strategically about allocating your dollars. Our goal is to function as your autonomous, dedicated CFO - big companies have CFOs and entire teams to help make financial decisions, why shouldn’t you as an individual?”
Unlike many other personal financial tools out there, Cinch doesn’t just stop with visualizing your data. Instead of giving you a pie chart of your spending and simply telling you that you’re over budget, it’s focused on giving you actionable, real steps to get you from point A to point B. By recommending an appropriate credit card, suggesting you apply for a certain insurance or proposing you get a specific loan, Cinch plans to help users take steps to better manage their finances. And best of all, they don’t get paid by any of the companies or products they recommend, so they deliver a truly unbiased service.
Cinch plans to launch this July. Join their early access waitlist to be one of the first to experience an entirely new approach to your financial life.
Rapid Fire Questions
Brianne Shelley: What time do you normally get to the office and what time do you usually leave?
Kerri Moriarty: It definitely varies day by day but I usually get into the office between 8am and 9pm and I typically leave between 6pm and 7pm. I think one of the benefits (and downsides) of today’s technology is you can stay connected wherever you are. Sometimes I’m home at 10pm going back and forth with someone on Slack, checking email or even just logging into the backend of our site just to see what’s going on. Although my office hours are pretty straightforward, I’m always connected. It’s hard to remember the last time I was totally shut down.
BS: Where do you find you’re the most productive?
KM: Our office is all open. We have big open tables that everyone sits around. It’s very conducive to collaboration. When I have something very specific to do, I can always sit at my desk with people around and put on noise canceling headphones. I’m pretty productive there.
We also have this great booth space in our office that’s sound proof. Sometimes, I’ll just post up there with my laptop.
BS: How do you handle stress?
KM: I think it’s just a part of my DNA at this point. I’m definitely comfortable in a high stress environment. I’m a type A, highly organized person. To try to destress, I take a break when I need it, step outside the office to go for a quick coffee, exercise and use the HeadSpace meditation app, all the usual stuff. However, there is no better relaxation than some retail therapy – and it’s certainly a favorite weekend activity. But no matter what I do, I’m pretty much always high strung.. That’s kind of just my general vibe.
BS: How many cups of coffee do you normally drink a day?
KM: It’s bad for my health probably, the answer to this question. I always have a coffee at home before I leave the house, then I have a coffee when I get to work and then I usually have a coffee in the afternoon—we’re talking like three or four cups a day. It’s also something I do to take a break. Sometimes I go to get a coffee just to get up and stretch my feet and walk around… maybe I should switch to water! Even if I have a coffee at 4pm or 5pm,I’ll still go to sleep like a baby at a regular time. I think I have caffeine immunity at this point.
BS: What do you do for fun on weekends?
KM: I’m a homebody. I love to be at home relaxing, doing stuff around the house. I live in Brookline with my husband and our little Yorkie, Remy. We like to go out and about in Brookline, try new places for lunch or dinner and see our family and friends. Also, outside of life at a tech company, fashion and personal style are a huge part of my life. A few years ago, before I was super busy with Cinch, I ran my own style blog called A Trendy Peace.
BS: What motivates you?
KM: I really just want to feel like I’m doing something productive and I want to feel like I’m having an impact where I work. I definitely work a lot and I put a lot of my time and energy into Cinch, it’s certainly personal and meaningful to me. I hate feeling like I’m just wasting time or energy. Also, it’s highly motivating to see what I’m doing has an impact or influence on the direction that this company is heading in.
I definitely consider myself to be highly independent. Being able to pursue things on my own terms, setting up my own stability, financial independence and professional success is a huge motivator for me. And I’m pretty competitive. I like to succeed at what I’m doing and I like to do things well.
BS: Ten years ago, is this where you would have predicted you would have ended up?
KM: Not at all. I always said that I was never going to live in Boston. Growing up on the Cape, it was a much quieter, smaller community. I said I would never live anywhere near the city. I don’t think I ever would have guessed that I’d be at a startup. The financial planning role made more sense to me when I thought about the future. Sean has been an amazing mentor to me. Had it not been for meeting him at Partner Advisors, I don’t think I would have seen my career path transform so much in this short time. Had I not sort of naturally evolved into Cinch, I’m not sure that I ever even would have sought out the startup environment. I’ve been so thankful that I’ve ended up here because I’ve learned so much and it’s such a wonderful experience that I don’t think I imagined for myself at all.
Images courtesy of Kerri Moriarty.