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Adam Moelis Of Yotta On How They Are Helping To Promote Financial Inclusion

An Interview With Orlando Zayas

Most of us take it for granted that we can open a bank or a credit card. But the truth is, according to the World Bank, close to one-third of adults — 1.7 billion — are still unbanked, and have no access to a transaction account. About half of unbanked people include women in poor households in rural areas or out of the workforce. What can be done and what is being done to promote more financial inclusion? Authority Magazine is starting a new series about Companies Helping To Promote Financial Inclusion. In this series we are talking to leaders of companies and organizations who are helping to promote financial inclusion.

As part of this series I had the pleasure to interview Adam Moelis.

Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Yotta — a company with a mission to help Americans become more financially secure through a high-yield savings account. Adam was recognized by Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2021. Prior to Yotta, Adam worked at Goldman Sachs and YipitData. Adam graduated summa cum laude from Wharton with a degree in Finance and Accounting.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I grew up in Los Angeles with three siblings and the best dog who has ever lived. I have a big extended family and was very much exposed to the finance industry growing up since a lot of my family members were in that world.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I love the book Influence by Robert Cialdini. We like to think we are rational, but the reality is all of us operate with some sort of subconscious bias and tendencies. And if you can understand what those biases are, you can be way more equipped to not let those biases influence your life as much.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

“A year from now, you’ll wish you started today.” We always make excuses for delaying positive change in our lives. I find this quote helpful to maintain an action towards bias and to keeping our future selves in mind when we make decisions today. I think one of the biggest human flaws is we care way more about our present and near-term self than our long term self even though our long term self is living most of our life.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is motivating and guiding people to accomplish a goal or mission through your own words and actions. It’s impossible to accomplish much of anything on your own and in order to get a team moving in the same and right direction, you need to be able to motivate people and help everyone understand why and how to take those next steps to accomplish those goals.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Let’s start with a basic definition so that all of our readers are on the same page. What exactly is Financial Inclusion?

Financial inclusion refers to the ready availability of the tools that consumers can use to make purchases and engage in transactions that are a part of everyday life — from buying a pizza to paying rent. To be of value, the tools have to be easy to use, affordable and trustworthy.

What does it mean to be “unbanked”?

Open your wallet. How many credit cards do you have? Have you paid them off in a manner that enables you to get a credit rating, and then buy a car or rent an apartment. If so, you’re banked, which comes with a lot of advantages.

The cash you carry may get you through a few days but it doesn’t allow you to shop online and the million things that banked people take for granted. In fact, according to the Federal Reserve, 40% of Americans can’t come up with $400 in an emergency. This leaves almost half the country in a financially vulnerable position.

For the benefit of our readers, can you explain some of the typical reasons why a person might be unbanked? Why can’t they just walk into the local bank and open an account? Why can’t they simply open an account online?

For some people, it is a question of trust. They just don’t trust the institutions.

For others, it’s a question of cash flow. They live paycheck to paycheck and don’t have the means to leave money in a bank and accumulate enough to open an account and build the track record needed to use the services they offer.

Can you tell our readers a bit about your work to promote Financial Inclusion? Without saying names, can you share a story about a person who was helped by your initiative?

People spend close to a thousand dollars a year on lottery tickets. A lot of these people can’t afford to lose this money, but the lottery preys on the fact that people love to gamble even if they can’t afford it. At Yotta, we’ve made saving money feel like the lottery so that we use people’s psychology to help them accomplish something that will benefit their future self. We have thousands of users who have told us about the impact we’ve had on helping them reach their financial goals.

This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for businesses to promote financial inclusion?

So many Americans live paycheck to paycheck and lack an understanding of how to manage a budget or manage their personal finances. 40% of Americans can’t come up with $400 in an emergency. So many people are vulnerable to an emergency expense that would wreck their financial lives. We need to help people become more financially robust.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. You are an influential business leader. Can you please share your “5 Steps Business Should Take To Promote Financial Inclusion”. Kindly share a story or example for each.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I would pare back all those state sponsored lotteries and encourage people to take a look at prize linked savings accounts. The consumer gets the same thrill of playing the lottery — but cannot lose because the money goes into an FDIC-insured savings account. We didn’t invent the concept — 23 million people in the UK have used prize-linked accounts for decades through the premium bond system. The U.S. congress passed a law a few years ago to allow the type of business that we are building at Yotta.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Peyton Manning. This isn’t related to financial inclusion but I’m a big Peyton Manning fan, so please tag him and tell him I look forward to our breakfast.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Take a look at our website —! It is full of information regarding our mission to help Americans become more financially secure. We also have a blog and newsletter where we share tips and tricks to save money and improve your finances.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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