Case Study: Betterment

Automated Investing Service

Submitted Expenses
2 days
Average Reimbursement Time

How Betterment Made Their Expense Reporting Better

Since its launch in 2010, Betterment has raised over $100M in funding and quickly become the largest automated investing service. As the company and employee count grew, Betterment saw a strain on their operations and internal processes.

When Lucy Babbage joined the team in 2012 to manage internal operations, the Betterment team was just under 20 employees. The expense reporting process was a free-for-all with receipts being dropped at her desk for reimbursement. She knew that this process wasn’t scalable, but Lucy and Betterment’s Chief Operating Officer also didn’t want to bog employees down with spreadsheets or complicated workflows.

The first fix to the process began by having employees email Lucy a photo of their receipt with a short description. However, this still required her to chase down information, manually enter data into the accounting system and create reimbursements - eating up her valuable time and prolonging the reimbursement period for her team.

In 2014 and 40 employees later, Lucy knew that their process was officially broken, but she still didn’t want to impart a frustrating experience on her team. Lucy set out on a mission to find a solution that would keep things simple and take away the burden that fell on her each month.

Keeping it simple and uncomplicated was the name of the game.

Betterment employees often have several expenses over the course of the month. Besides the typical work expenses, employees belong to “social teams” and are given budgets for activities to encourage building relationships outside of their department. Lucy wanted to make sure that the solution wouldn’t discourage these activities, as they are important to the company culture. She needed a solution that required minimal training and would help her quickly pay back employees, as well as automate the expense process.

With Abacus, Lucy was able to make a smooth transition to an expense reporting process that her team could get on board with. Social teams can freely plan their activities and not worry about floating the costs because they can just “Abacus It” and get paid back within a couple days.

I was looking for a frictionless solution that was simple and uncomplicated, but that had layers and could grow with us. I looked at other systems, but was really picky and they just didn’t have what I was looking for - Abacus did.

Lucy Babbage, Director of People at Betterment

Betterment also got additional benefits from using Abacus that they hadn’t thought they needed. Now they are able to use historical expense data in Abacus to set their team social budgets for the upcoming year. By tracking last year’s spend with custom categories and using forecasted employee counts, they can successfully budget the right amount to keep the team’s social calendar full.

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