7 min read
If there’s anything Katie Couric is not interested in, it’s slowing down. But other than that there’s not much she won’t try. The longtime Today co-host has been a journalist, talk show host, author, cancer activist, and since 2017 when she co-founded Katie Couric Media with her husband John Molner, an entrepreneur.
Part of what’s made Couric successful in all her pursuits is that she’s a planner. She thinks not only about her short-term wins but about her long-term life goals — one being financial preparedness should she choose to retire at some point. While it might be hard to imagine one of America’s most famous women worrying about having enough money in the bank for retirement, she’s never taken anything for granted. And it was during her exploration of retirement finances that she began wondering how she could help the women who’ve been her core audience since her Today days reach that same milestone with confidence in their financial literacy. That line of thinking led her to Rhian Horgan, a finance industry veteran who left JP Morgan after 17 years to start her own second act as an entrepreneur.
Horgan, inspired by her own parents’ confusion as they tried to navigate social security elections, decided the resources that existed weren’t cutting it for today’s tech-savvy consumers. “You probably think about social security as a tax in your paycheck,” she says. “But, it’s more than half of most Americans’ retirement income on a monthly basis. There’s this complex set of math you’ve got to go through to figure out your benefit, and there’s actually this cottage industry of 300-page books that will teach you how to make your election. I looked at this and thought, 300 pages to figure out your fundamental government benefits?”
She saw a gap in the market for a fintech platform designed specifically to help Baby Boomers navigate the election process. “The vast majority of technology has been built to serve a younger consumer,” she says. “And for some reason, if a consumer is over the age of 50, the tech community today generally believes you’re old, and you don’t know how to use your phone or a computer. The reality is that Baby Boomers are very tech savvy. Eighty percent of them are on social media. Eighty percent have smartphones. They just navigate technology differently.”
So in 2017 she left her job at JP Morgan to start working on a platform called Kindur, which gives users a comprehensive view of their retirement savings, expected social security benefits and more. Each user’s “Retirement Score” gives them a credit-score-like rating on how financially prepared for retirement they are, with suggestions like adding a part-time job the first few years of retirement to increase their score and the number of years their savings can last. In 2020, Kindur launched Silvur, an app version of its platform.
Couric and Horgan were introduced by a mutual friend, and their interests aligned enough that Couric came on board to help promote Silvur. She told Entrepreneur why the company interested her, how she uses it and the one financial planning step she encourages her audience to take.
How did you initially hear about Silvur?
I met Rhian Horgan, Silvur’s founder, through a mutual friend. I’m a huge supporter of female-led businesses, (hello, KCM!) so I was thrilled to meet her. I loved that she’s focused the company on supporting Americans in their 50s and 60s. Facing retirement can be intimidating, and the process can be filled with complicated and confusing decisions. But Rhian and her team are building technology to empower consumers by breaking down financial options in a comprehensive way, even for those who may be new to controlling their financial future.
What about it appealed to you?
I look at the most recent act of my life — one in which I started my own company — as one of excitement and empowerment, and I love that Silvur recognizes that entering a new phase of life doesn’t necessarily mean you have to slow down. Your “next act” is something that should be celebrated! Not feared or shied away from. Silvur’s users are embracing their next chapter, leading fulfilling and thriving lives, all while saving for retirement. Silvur’s no-fear retirement plan and Retirement Score give everyone the ability to improve their financial wellness over time so they can look towards retirement with optimism, not dread. And the technology is very cool — it’s like the Apple Watch for financial fitness.
How did Silvur help answer those questions?
I know Social Security can be confusing and a common concern. For most Americans, it’s their largest retirement asset (often worth over $500,000) and for more than half of Americans, Social Security represents over 50% of their retirement income. Deciding when to start receiving benefits can be tricky, but whether you’re single, married, re-married, divorced or widowed, Silvur can help you to decide when you should start collecting benefits, and how to maximize them.
What are some of the questions you’ve had as you navigate your own plan?
I think in my generation and certainly the generation before me, a lot of women struggled with financial literacy because sadly, it just wasn’t the norm for women to be financially independent. Especially in the wake of Covid-19, I’ve become passionate about educating women in America on financial health and wellness. Women now make up almost half of the retired worker base, yet female workers earn 20% less in social security benefits than men. That’s outrageous!
This year has taught us that we should all plan for the unexpected. Silvur helps you set savings aside for future unexpected costs, whether it be healthcare, job loss, or another crisis.
If every member of your audience, and Entrepreneur’s audience, could take one or two financial planning steps, what would you recommend they do?
We know that running out of money during retirement is one of the biggest psychological drains on people today. One thing I’m constantly hearing is how important it is to get a grasp of your finances early, long before turning 65, if you can. It pays to plan early — for healthcare, for travel, for your next home — whatever is most important to you. Having a realistic and holistic view of your finances is vital. I spent much of my life without a partner to help me make these decisions, and as hard as it was to be a working mother and to figure out how to advocate for myself financially, I will tell you that understanding your worth and being in control of what you’ve earned is empowering.
6. You’re someone who’s had many “acts” in your career. What advice do you have for other people, particularly women, who might want to start a new chapter of their careers?
Don’t be afraid to try something new— age is just a number! I want all women to be fearlessly ambitious. I started Katie Couric Media and my newsletter, Wake-Up Call, when I was in my 60s. The goal was to provide readers the news they need to know — away from all the noise and misinformation. I think that mission is more important now than ever, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. At an age when most people think it’s time to slow down, I’m just getting started.