Raoul Bhavnani leaves FTI to lead Betterment’s communications

After more than 25 years in the financial services industry and consulting, he joins the robo-advising, investment services company as CCO.

Raoul Bhavnani leaves FTI to lead Betterment’s communications

NEW YORK: Betterment has recruited Raoul Bhavnani, a more-than-16-year veteran of FTI Consulting, where he most recently served as a senior MD in New York and London. 

On Wednesday, he is joining the financial advisory company, which has robo-advising and cash-management services, as chief communications officer, leading internal and external comms and government relations from its New York headquarters. He is reporting to CEO Sarah Kirshbaum Levy. 

Bhavnani noted Betterment has made a substantial number of hires over the past year. 

“That pace is expected to continue and even expand,” he said. “Making sure our talent is aligned to our mission and business strategy and is kept abreast of important milestones will be critical to our success.”

With external comms, Bhavnani stated, “We have a huge growth opportunity ahead of us as our core investing platform continues its pace of innovation and we also expand the platform through multi-prong distribution into small business and investment advisor segments.”

He added that he’ll work closely with the management team to ensure that Betterment’s experts, who are leading its growth, are given the platform and tools to successfully communicate. 

Bhavnani is replacing Joe Ziemer, former VP of communications and policy, who after nearly nine years left the company at the end of July. Ziemer said at the time that he would take some time off before deciding his next career move.

At FTI, Bhavnani advised financial services and tech firms, including Mastercard, Amazon, HSBC, Facebook, Allstate, Morningstar, Schroders and Lazard. His work spanned media relations, crisis advisory, transaction support, government relations, opinion research and internal communications, the company said in a statement. 

He also worked on FTI’s DEI efforts to recruit and retain historically underrepresented professionals. He plans to continue similar efforts at Betterment.

“[Bhavnani] did an outstanding job for us as a leader in our strategic communications business for over 15 years, and we wish him all the best in this next venture as he joins the ranks of accomplished and loyal FTI alumni in the business community,” said Brian Kennedy, head of the Americas for strategic communications at FTI. 

An FTI spokesperson said other executives at the firm will initially manage Bhavnani’s prior responsibilities, and the company will continue to invest in the recruitment of senior talent in areas of growth.

Bhavnani started in financial services at Morgan Stanley in India and the U.S. and ran corporate development for a startup tech company in New York. He also managed campaign operations for Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) first run for mayor of Newark, New Jersey. 

The hiring of Bhavnani follows other C-suite appointments, including Levy as CEO in December 2020 and Kim Rosenblum as CMO in January 2021.

This month, Betterment obtained $160 million in growth capital, comprising $60 million from a Series F equity round led by fintech VC firm Treasury, and a $100 million credit facility from ORIX Corporation USA’s Growth Capital group and Runway Growth Capital. The company was valued at $1.3 billion.

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