Decision Dialogues Episode 05: Maxing Out Savings Decisions with Gary Zimmerman

On episode 5 of Decision Dialogues, Mark Willoughby and Jennifer Faherty talk to Gary Zimmerman, Managing Partner of Six Trees Capital LLC, and Founder of MaxMyInterest.com, an intelligent cash management solution that helps maximize yield and FDIC insurance coverage. They discuss Gary’s decision to leave his career as an investment banker to found MaxMyInterest—from realizing there was a problem regarding return on cash that very much needed a solution, to developing and “de-risking” his business plan, figuring out the technology that would be needed to service his new clients securely and efficiently, and the support he had from his wife.

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Transcript

Thanks for joining us on Decision Dialogues. We’re thrilled to have you along. My name is Mark Willoughby, and I’m a Principal Wealth Manager and the Chief Operating Officer of Modera Wealth Management, LLC. Today, my colleague Jennifer Faherty, who is Chief Client Experience Officer of Modera, and I  will be chatting with Gary Zimmerman, managing partner of Six Trees Capital LLC, and founder of maxmyinterest.com. Welcome everyone to the show, and I will hand it over to Jennifer.

Thank you, Mark. And thank you, Gary, so much for joining us today.

It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you, Mark.

I’m really excited to hear about MaxMyInterest, and your business—learn more about your business and how it got started. And maybe that’s where we could start off is just tell us a little bit more about MaxMyInterest and what the inspiration was behind it.

Sure. Thank you, Jennifer. So MaxMyInterest is what we call an intelligent cash management solution. It’s designed to help individual investors and their families, as well as their financial advisors better manage cash. And it’s sort of funny to talk about cash, because most people don’t think very much about the cash that’s in their portfolio, or even the cash that’s sitting outside of their portfolio. But we think of cash as an asset class, that in many ways can be a very deliberate allocation, just like stocks and bonds and real estate and alternatives. And so that’s what Max does: it helps people earn the highest yield possible on that cash while keeping all of those funds same day liquid and FDIC-insured in their own bank accounts.

The business itself is really an accidental business, I was not looking to start a company at all. I spent the first 15 years of my career as an investment banker, and the inspiration for Max came during the financial crisis when the bank where I worked was teetering on the brink of insolvency, and it struck me that all my cash that was sitting there might not be as safe as I thought it was. So I was simply looking for a better way to manage cash, and so this was really the outcropping of my own strategy, when we realized that many more people could benefit from the same approach.

Wow. So you are really that classic example of being a customer of yourself first, it sounds like. You saw a problem and you wanted to solve it for yourself, and then it kind of turned into an idea for a business. Is that right?

That’s exactly right.

But then how—take us through a little bit about that decision. So you know it works, because you were doing it yourself. But then what, what comes next?

Well, it didn’t happen overnight—it’s a sort of a gradual transition. So the Max story, I guess, begins back in 2009, right in the middle of the financial crisis, when the bank where I was working was all of a sudden on shaky ground, and I was looking for a way to keep cash safe. And so the simplest thing I could think of was to take my cash, open up multiple bank accounts at multiple different banks and spread it out across multiple banks, so that I kept it below the FDIC insurance limit of each institution. The advantage of doing it that way is not only did I have increased FDIC insurance coverage, but I also had greater liquidity and optionality. So if any of those banks were to fail, I’d eventually get my money back, but I would still have liquidity in the other banks.

And that was really important to me. If we had sort of looked back historically, a lot of brokerage firms use what are called broker deposit systems where they basically tell you, “Don’t worry, your cash is all insured,” but what they’re doing behind the scenes is selling it to other banks, and they’re serving as an intermediary. And the problem with those approaches is that while your cash might be insured, it’s not fully liquid, and during the financial crisis, liquidity was just as important as safety.

So that was sort of the origin, and I began managing these bank accounts myself manually, and I did it for about three and a half years, you know—watching interest rates, watching the FDIC limits and balances and reallocating cash whenever it made sense from bank to bank. One day, I was sitting in my apartment, going through this laborious process, and I thought, “Gosh, what am I doing? This is such a waste of my time. I should have a better thing to do on a Sunday afternoon.” And I was about to stop. I thought, “Why am I wasting my time on this?” And I looked back and I realized I picked up an extra 40 K or so incremental, risk-free return. And as someone who spent his whole career on finance, that’s sort of what often people in finance referred to as “alpha,” that elusive, incremental, risk-free return and I thought, “Well, gee, I’m probably not the only person with this problem. If I could automate this, not only could I benefit from this approach on an ongoing basis without having to spend any more time on it, but other people could benefit as well.”

And so I started digging into the market, and I did that sort of classic back of the envelope analysis. And what I found really shocked me: what I found was that if you looked just at the top 1% of the US population, collectively they were holding a trillion and a half in cash. And if you looked a little more broadly, at the top 4% of the population, which was basically any household with more than a million of assets, they were collectively holding close to $4 trillion in cash. And as I started asking around, and just asking people where they were keeping their cash, and what it was earning, what I found is that the vast majority of this cash was simultaneously underinsured and under earning. I sort of quickly figured out that US households were probably under earning by about $50 billion a year—roughly equivalent to the profitability of the big four banks—and I thought, “Well, gosh, if there’s a way to scale this through technology in a safe and secure and easy manner, then people could recapture what is really rightfully theirs.”

That’s incredible. Interestingly, though—so you really did see the problem and kind of a clear solution. Interestingly, though, that you had just come out of the financial crisis, or we all did. So you know, we talk with our clients around risk, personal risk, investment risk, all that kind of stuff; we just came out of kind of this, you know, kind of scary time. Was there any moment in their thing, even if you had this very clear solution and problem, where it just felt so risky, just because of the time period we just left?

It did feel risky, and it felt risky from a career perspective. And there’s a difference between having an idea and acting on it. Many people have ideas, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should act on it, and so I spent about nine months conducting very detailed due diligence on the sector. I wanted to learn everything I could about the banking sector, about how cash is managed, about the existing intellectual property in the field, because I’m actually a very risk-averse person. I think a lot of investment bankers are inherently risk-averse—that’s why they’re bankers and not traders. And so I was willing to take some risk, but I wasn’t willing to take an unlimited amount of risk, and so could I do enough research to de-risk this to some extent?

I was able to de-risk the business plan, but I was not able to de-risk the technology risk. I had no idea whether this was actually executable from a tech perspective. It turns out that it should not have been, but we figured out a way to do it. And so when I left the bank, it was actually my wife—and I have to give her a lot of credit for giving you that extra push to say, “You know, go ahead and do this, take this risk.” And it did mean sort of a change in our lives, like we went from being a salaried employee to an entrepreneur, and we were fortunate that we had the ability to take that risk. But it was a very calculated risk at the time.

Would you say that calculated risk, Gary, was more to do with the financial risk? Or some other factors?

That’s a good question, Mark—I think it was both. There’s financial risk, there’s career risk, you know. The biggest cost of the business is what I would call opportunity cost. So yes, we personally invested capital in the business, we did not accept a dime of outside capital until we had already built software that was up and running and proven. That was a level of risk that I didn’t want to expose anyone else to, so we had to prove that up first. But the biggest risk was opportunity costs. Bankers are fairly highly compensated, and the single biggest expense of the business was basically forgone salary, and there were broader questions as well around career.

This is where my wife was really helpful in putting it into perspective, because what she said is, “If you go off and do this, and it works, that’s great. And if you go off and do this, and it doesn’t work, it will not have diminished any of your existing work experience—all it will do is add a new set of experiences, and if anything, it will probably give you greater empathy for your clients, and understanding that, what it’s like to run a company, what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, what it’s like to have something you’ve built from the ground up.” And I think she was right on all of those fronts, so that’s really how I thought about it is—what’s the downside? And I was comparing, you know, the certainty of one outcome against the uncertainty of another outcome, but it didn’t feel that there was nearly as much risk as I initially thought there was once, I thought about it within that framework.

Sounds like you had a lot of good support there too. I think that can help a lot. Can you tell us a little bit about how, what other kind of support you had and building your team and how you went about kind of surrounding yourself with other people as the company grew?

Well, I was very fortunate. In the early days. I had developed a business plan, but I had no idea whether the technology was workable. And it just so happened that a very close family friend from childhood ran a software consulting business based in Chicago, he was one of the two or three people who I shared this idea with early on. I said to him, “Look, I’ve got this idea, and I think there’s a market for it, but I’m not sure if the technology can be built.” And he said, “I think the technology can be built, but I’m not sure that there’s a market for it.” And that created this really wonderful early tension in the business, because we were each there to prove each other wrong, right? He was going to work—and his team were going to work—as hard as they could to prove that they could build this, and I was going to work as hard as I could to prove that someone would actually use it.

So we began working with this firm. Early on, I hired them initially on a consulting basis, and we spent a bunch of time doing in the tech world what’s called “spike work,” where you’re not trying to build a finished product, you’re just kind of trying to prove out technological approaches. One of those approaches ended up becoming the subject of our first patent, where we had to develop some unique methods for building the system and making it actually workable, because what we were trying to do had never been accomplished before. And the team was really wonderful, and so for the first year or so we built all of the software, in coordination with that team, and then one of the lead engineers on that team came over to run technology for us internally with the support of that firm.

But that was sort of how it how it got started, and for the first year, we were just building—it was just that nonstop mad rush to build as quickly as we could, but build as thoughtfully as we could. So we did a number of things that early stage companies rarely do. One of the things we did was sort of the opposite of what every entrepreneurial textbook tells you to do: So the common wisdom is just put something out there, and throw it out there, it doesn’t have to be perfect and just see how the market reacts. And our view was “no, we’re dealing with people’s hard-earned money, and while our software doesn’t actually touch any money, there’s a lot of trust that needs to be built in.”

So what we did is we hired one of the leading software consulting firms—software security consulting firms—they do work for 19 of the 20 largest banks. And before we wrote a single line of code, we sat down with them and we said, “Look, this is what we’d like to build. We’d like to make this as secure as possible. How can we build security into the code itself?” So rather than build something sloppy, and then put firewalls around it, we said, “Let’s actually write the code in such a way that it’s secure.” And that involves a big investment of time and money to get it right in the first place, but it’s made everything since then so much easier. So our thought was, we can only bring something to market, if it’s actually secure and scalable in the first place.

A lot of good lessons there, I think, in terms of building a company and really thinking through, you know, making sure the foundation is really strong. You know, you touched upon that, right? Because a lot of the startups have this mentality of fill the plane while already flying it, you know? Which is also really good advice as well. But I like this approach that you had in terms of, “Let’s really think through what we need, so we don’t have to go and fix it later.”

Yeah, and there were mistakes that we made early on as well. You know, one of the mistakes was, our system relied on people linking their existing online savings accounts together—so the idea is that you might have an existing brick-and-mortar checking account relationship with a bank, and that’s probably a very sticky relationship. You’ll probably never switch banks in your life. But those brick-and-mortar banks fundamentally can’t afford to pay you a very high yield, because they’ve got to pay for the heavy infrastructure costs associated with their branches, and the online banks have a much lower cost structure, so they’re structurally able to pay you a higher yield. And because an FDIC-insured bank account is basically a commodity, the whole idea behind MaxMyInterest was that we would help people marry their existing brick-and-mortar checking account with a portfolio of higher yielding online savings accounts.

The mistake that we made is that we erroneously assumed the high net worth households would already have these online savings accounts, And so all they’d need to do is take their existing accounts and link them together. And what we found in practice is that almost no one had online savings accounts back in 2014 when we launched this. Not only was there a big educational component of helping people understand, “What’s the difference between a brick and mortar bank and an online bank?” And the answer is there’s really no difference. But also, we found that we had to make it easier for them to open those online savings accounts, and we’ve now been working for the last five years, sort of maniacally on, “How do we make that process as easy as possible?”

What we came up with, which is the subject of our second patent is what we call Max Common Application. And it was modeled after the Common app for colleges. So if anyone listening has college age students, or if you’re a graduate who’s been to college in the last 20 years, if you go back to the old days, it used to be that you had to request an application from each school you wanted to apply to, you had to fill it out in ink or with a typewriter, mail it in, and if you applied to a dozen schools, you had to fill out 12 separate applications. Nowadays, of course, we’re much more enlightened: you can go online to a single website, fill out a single form, click on the names of the schools to which you’d like to apply, and presto.

So we decided we would take that same approach for opening bank accounts. And so we built this process now where you can open multiple online savings accounts at multiple banks by filling out a single form in under 60 seconds. And in fact, our newest bank integration—we’ve gotten that down to as little as 16 seconds. So taking away that friction, you know—the sort of difference between, “Oh, this makes sense, I’d like to open an account at this bank,” versus “I’m actually going to open an account this bank,” taking away that friction was really important, but it’s something that we hadn’t adequately anticipated in the early days of Max.

Can I bring you back to your—I’m going to take a jump into your mind here, Gary, because you made this out the step of leaving the banking industry sound like it was nothing, but I’m sure it wasn’t nothing. You’d been in a corporate career for how long at that point? I think I heard you say 15 years?

That’s right. 15 years.

Can we telescope into that moment where, from the time you had the idea for the business, to the time you decided, “Okay, I’m going.” You know, what were the good decisions you made? Back then it sounded like you were lucky enough to have a financial basis to invest in the startup business yourself. You know, you were going to build a business, talk about your network, what role did your network play, like what did you do really well, and describe the process where you got to the point where you’re comfortable, “Okay, I’m leaving Wall Street now. I’m going to launch my own business.”

Mark, I think the network was very important. When you start a company, it’s a really interesting journey, because the early stages, you’ve got to convince a number of other people to come along for the journey with you. And it’s not just investors—it’s employees, it’s partners. And fundamentally, they have to trust in your vision, and they have to trust in you. And if you talk to a number of early stage investors, they’ll tell you that when they pick early stage companies, rarely are they betting on the business idea, because the business idea can change, circumstances can change. What they’re betting on is the ability of the original team to adapt to change, and to find the best path forward, because fundamentally, a company is a group of people—it’s not an idea. And there are plenty of good ideas, but it’s really about how you execute on those ideas.

So in order to pull together that group of people to get started on this mission, what really mattered is that they trusted in me, and that they trusted my judgment, and that I would be diligent and careful. And that, you know, I wouldn’t make decisions by the seat of my pants, but that things would be carefully analyzed and researched—that we’d collect multiple perspectives and try to make the best decisions we could. And that’s where I think both the network and the skills learned as an investment banker were very helpful, so what I lacked, of course, was experience operating a business—I’d never run a business—but what I had and what had been drilled into me by so many mentors along the way, was the importance of diligence of attention to detail, how to learn about an industry, how to build a financial model, how to analyze change in industries.

I think a number of those skills are proved to be quite important and valuable, and so as I was thinking about this potential business—again, early on, it wasn’t even really a potential business—but as I started to think about it, more like a business, I spent many, many months, probably about nine months, conducting very careful due diligence, in my spare time. You know, evenings and weekends, inasmuch as those existed as a banker: studying the market, trying to understand everything I could about banking, and payments and funds, transfer rules, and all of the sort of underlying elements that were important in my mind to de-risking the business.

When it came time to actually start the company, that’s where you start to draw upon that network, and our early investors, a lot of them were people, perhaps not surprisingly, who I’d met through the course of my career—they included the former bank CEOs and Chief Operating Officers and Chief Technology Officers and heads of asset management firms. But they were people who had known me in a professional context, and so I think in some ways that de risked it for them in the sense that they could anticipate how I would behave, how diligent I would be. That by no means assured success, but I think it gave the confidence that this was—if whether or not the idea was backable, this was a person who was reasonably backable, and that in turn helped us to build out the company and build up the team.

And so now you’ve been with this business, you said about six years, since 2014, is that correct?

We started the business in 2013, but the first product went live in 2014.

So you’ve had the experience of running your own business, as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, and you also have experience of being in the corporate world. I’m curious, do you miss anything about the corporate world, and also, what’s the best thing you would say about having your own business?

My biggest fear in leaving my job on Wall Street was that I would miss it too much. You know, I really loved being an investment banker and learned a ton in those 15 years. This was an interesting career transition, because I wasn’t trying to leave, I sort of just felt the pull of this other idea, and primarily, what drove me was a sense of curiosity. You know, here’s a—at the time $13 trillion market, now, it’s a $16 trillion market, that’s inherently inefficient. Could we find a way to make it more efficient for the benefit of individual investors? And it turns out, also for the benefit of the banks, although I hadn’t realized that at the time. So it was really sort of that curiosity that drove the departure, but my biggest fear was that I would miss, sort of, the deals too much. I was an M&A banker, and so you’re often advising companies on buying other companies or merging, joint ventures, etc.

To my surprise, I really don’t miss it that much. I had one moment, a couple of months in where I was in the gym one morning, and CNBC was on about the treadmill, and they were announcing the deals announced that morning, and I had a brief moment there where I said, “Gosh, I really miss this.” And I have maintained an affiliation with an investment bank, so I can stay involved in helping with a few things, but this has been such an immersive opportunity that I really haven’t had time to miss it. And I think the thing that’s really been helpful is I think I now have a much better sense of empathy for the client, and understanding what the client is going through.

Because as a banker, you might be working on half a dozen different transactions at the same time—and you care very deeply about each one—but a year later, the transactions in the rearview mirror, and you’re on to the next three things. And what I’ve come to appreciate, and I think this is true for a lot of business owners is, you know, all the blood, sweat and tears that goes into building that business, it really is your baby. And there’s a lot of emotion tied up in the moment when someone sells a business—or even if they’re not the founder, but you know, they worked at a company ever since they graduated from college or business school, and they’ve worked their way all the way up, and now they’re, you know, in the top job. I never understood as a banker, and certainly, as a junior banker, I didn’t really appreciate all the emotion that went along with those transactions, because often you’d say, “Look, this merger is good for both companies, the economics work.” And it turns out that what drives most M&A deals are actually the social issues: who’s going to be CEO, who’s going to be on the board, which of their colleagues who they’ve worked with for decades are going to keep their jobs and which aren’t, who’s going to be in charge of the the United Way donation budget, and all of these things and the stature in the community become really important. So it’s given me certainly a new perspective.

For some of the folks who are thinking about embarking on the entrepreneurial trail, Gary, when you look back: what what are the decisions back then that were the most solid decisions you made? And are there any decisions that you could point to that you would have made differently, now that you have some hindsight?

I think that the choice of business is extremely important. Whatever you do, whatever your entrepreneurial journey is, you’re going to invest an incredible amount of time and effort and money and energy and emotion into it. And if you’re going to make that sort of commitment, it had better be something worthwhile.

So occasionally, people will come to me and they say, “Oh, I want to start a business.” I’ll say, “Oh, what is it?” And they say, “I don’t know. I don’t know what it is yet. I just want to start a business.”

Yeah.

And gosh, why would you ever do that? I mean, it’s a terrible risk-reward trade.

Yes.

Right.

The odds that it goes well are pretty low, right? And so it’s a privilege to be able to take that sort of risk, where it’s not catastrophic. But when you hear people—I’m always so impressed when I hear these stories of people mortgaging their homes and putting on a second mortgage and moving into a trailer, and they do all of these things, because they believe so strongly in what they’re working on, and it’s incredibly admirable, and I’m always so, so impressed by it.

But it’s also terribly reckless, right? And you only hear the success stories, but for every success story, there are a myriad of stories of failure. And this is where I think a financial advisor can be really helpful in holding the hand of the client and helping them think through it, not in an emotional way, but in a very, almost clinical way. Now, a good advisor is also a good emotional hand holder. But I think that clinician is really important, because if the founder or the prospective founder isn’t prepared to think rationally at the outset, it’s only going to get worse from then on. So you’ve got to make sure that they are truly mentally prepared and are applying a good solid framework against the decision.

Any big decisions back then that you would have made differently, now that you know what you know now?

At the outset of Max, I had spent a lot of time studying the industry, but I had one major failing, which is that in all my years as a banker, the one industry that I hadn’t covered was financial institutions. And in some ways, that’s part of what made this journey so much fun, is that I’ve spent the last seven years or so thinking almost exclusively about this business, and about the industry and the structure. But gosh, had I known more about the industry, I probably would have been a faster study and figured out some things much earlier on.

As an example, in the early days of Max, I thought about this very simplistically—which is we’re going to create this software that is going to create greater efficiency in the market for bank deposits, and it’s inefficiency in the market for bank deposits that has made both banks as well as the old line brokerage firms—not the registered investment advisors who are fiduciaries and who sell advice—but rather the brokerage firms who sell product, earning a spread on that cash. In other words, paying the client below market rate on that cash has been the bread and butter of banks and brokerage firms for decades. And so my simplistic analysis of this market was that the brick and mortar banks will not be enamored with what we’re doing, and the online banks will love what we’re doing, because we’re helping with this transition from reliance on brick-and-mortar to online. It’s frankly, the exact same thing that went on in the retail sector, and if you look at the adoption of online banking, it’s following the exact same adoption curve as e-commerce, it’s just about six years behind. But fundamentally, it’s exactly the same business, you’re selling a commodity online instead of in a store, and so you can do it at a better price.

But I had this very simplistic view that brick-and-mortar banks wouldn’t like this, that brokerage firms wouldn’t like this, and that the online banks would like it. The reality is that it’s much more nuanced, because what we learned along the way—we built our software with this assumption that people were never going to switch banks, and that assumption turns out to be very valuable for banks, because what Max does is it actually cements and further solidifies the relationship with that existing brick-and-mortar bank, because the client doesn’t have to shop elsewhere for better rates on savings. We’ve integrated it all together.

Similarly, in the wealth management space, while we found that the broker dealers were initially terrified of this, registered investment advisors looked at it from a very different lens, and they said, “Well, you know, we don’t have custody of cash anyway. We don’t make any money on cash, we’re just here to provide the best advice we can for our clients. If this can help them earn higher returns on cash, which turns out to be a quarter of their assets, then we can help make the client better off.” And so we’ve found a very welcoming, warm reception within RIAs, who are fiduciaries. So we began building solutions for them, to help them package this in a way that would work better for their clients. And basically, everything we’ve done over the last five years has been focused on how do we integrate this more deeply into that ecosystem, so that customers don’t have to take our word for it—they can rely on the advice of their financial advisor.

So had I understood the banking / wealth management sector better, earlier on, I think we probably could have saved a couple of years in terms of how we oriented the company.

Interesting, but it sounds like it worked out in the end, right? And the good thing is, it’s really about pivoting, and once you have this learning, being able to pivot that business, you know, as quickly as possible, and grow from it really.

Exactly, and it wasn’t it wasn’t a massive pivot, like Twitter, right? Twitter was a massive pivot where they completely changed their business. This was more of an evolution. The core value proposition, the core of what we do and how we do it, hasn’t really changed significantly, but how we think about it, how we’ve oriented it—the user experience has improved dramatically. And in some ways, it’s good that we had the time, because it took a while for the technology to catch up to our vision. You know, much in the same way that 20 years ago, you couldn’t have imagined that e-commerce was going to grow, it wasn’t until Amazon invented the one click easy buy button that you were able to overcome customers’ aversion to using their credit card online.

The scary moment in the e-commerce journey was the moment at which you had to enter your credit card online and what Bezos was smart enough to figure out, among other things, is that if you could securely store that information once, now you could take away that emotional friction from the buying decision, and by the way, once I’ve already stored my credit card info at Amazon, then why would I go to another site that’s less convenient to have to type it in again. Amazon could deliver a more seamless client experience.

So I think there’s a lot to be learned from that sector, and what we think those exact same forces are now driving change in the banking sector. And we think that they are inevitable. So much in the way that some brick and mortar stores were initially resistant to e-commerce, and they said, “Oh, this is a fad, and it will go away,” the retail industry is littered with previously large companies, giants of retail, that are simply out of business now, because they refused to acknowledge the changes that were happening in the industry and the changes in consumer preferences. So I think you really can’t be an ostrich as a company. It’s very easy to rest on your laurels. But really successful companies are good at adapting to change.

My favorite example of this is actually a company in Upstate New York called Corning. Many people think of Corning as a glassware company, and they still do make glassware, but in the 90s, they discovered that their expertise in manufacturing glass could actually make them a leading provider of fiber optic cable as bandwidth needs were increasing rapidly. Corning turned itself into a massive fiber optics company, then all of a sudden, there was a glut of capacity and fiber optics, and all those networks have been built out, and Corning reinvented itself yet again, and now they make Gorilla Glass which sits atop, you know, millions and millions of iPhones. So I think, you know, that’s sort of a great example. And you compare them to another story, Upstate New York company, Kodak, which basically refused to acknowledge that digital photography was going to be a thing. You can track the fate of those two companies.

As we think about the large banks, and we spend a lot of time thinking about the banking sector, we think the same dynamic will play out and the banks that continue to rely on the expectation that customers will just be asleep at the switch, and lazy, and not really pay any attention to their bank statements—we think that in the short term, that’s a winning strategy, but in the long term, that’s a losing strategy.

That’s great. All right. So, Gary, just one final question. What’s the last non-financial decision you’ve made today?

Well, that was probably at lunchtime. So my favorite bakery in New York City is the Levain Bakery. They make these incredible cookies that are sort of crunchy on the outside, and they’re almost raw on the inside—they’re absolutely delicious. And we’ve been a little bit homesick during COVID, so my wife actually made a batch of these. And the tough decision today was at lunch: Do I eat one of them or two of them?

And what was the answer to that?

I’m big on delayed gratification, so I ate one of them, but I’m reserving the option to eat the other one later.

Excellent choice.

Okay very good, well enjoy the cookies!

And thanks very much to Jennifer Faherty and Gary Zimmerman for letting us listen in on your conversation. We appreciate your time and perspectives. And thank you for tuning in. We hope you’ll join us next time on Decision Dialogues for more stories from successful business owners. So long for now.

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About Gary

Photo of Gary Zimmerman

Gary Zimmerman is the Managing Partner of Six Trees Capital LLC and Founder of MaxMyInterest.com. Previously, Mr. Zimmerman was an investment banker at Citigroup, where he was a Managing Director and Global Head of Strategic Solutions for Sovereign Wealth Funds, responsible for advising these funds on their direct investment activities globally. In that role, he spent considerable time in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia advising funds with more than $5 trillion of assets under management. Earlier, Mr. Zimmerman led Citigroup’s cross-border M&A business in Japan, advising multinational corporations, financial institutions and private equity funds on their strategic ambitions overseas. Prior to joining Citigroup, Mr. Zimmerman worked as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch & Co. and SG Barr Devlin, a division of Societe Generale, both in New York.

MaxMyInterest is an intelligent cash management solution that helps maximize yield and FDIC insurance coverage. Max helps individual investors earn dramatically higher yield by harnessing the efficiencies of online banking. Max helps financial advisors better serve their clients by providing a fully-liquid, higher-yielding, FDIC-insured solution for cash held outside the brokerage account. Max helps businesses and non-profits keep cash safe with up to $200 million of FDIC insurance coverage. Max helps banks operate more efficiently, enabling them to deliver higher yield to their customers.

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planning advice, may not be suitable for everyone and should not be considered a solicitation to engage in any particular
investment or planning strategy. Statements made are subject to change without notice.