Behind the App Part 1: The Researcher

Our engineers, product managers, designers, and researchers are pushing boundaries to build next-level products for our members. From shaping the architecture of our mobile-first product suite to designing and building a holistic member experience, our team is at the center of it all. In this four-part series, we’re taking you behind the SoFi app to meet the dream team who is shaping the future of not only the company, but the entire fintech industry. 

First up in our four-part series is Sarah Erbay, a Staff Researcher at SoFi. She plays a critical role in making sure we are building (and enhancing) products that best meet our members’ needs so we can achieve our mission of helping people achieve financial independence. 

Tell us more about what you do as a Staff Researcher.

Sarah: My job as a researcher is to ensure the products and services we are building are in line with the needs of our members. I think of our team as the intermediaries between our members and the employees at SoFi. As a primary qualitative researcher, I spend a lot of my time interviewing members on any number of topics ranging from their recent experience buying a home, to what it means to get their money right. 

How does your work drive product decisions?

Sarah: I like to think that my work really impacts the strategy of the entire company. In 2020, I interviewed some of our most engaged members and identified that trust plays a crucial role in getting our members to open multiple products with SoFi. Subsequently, I led the research team as we conducted a large quantitative survey to understand how our members think about trust. As a result of this work, the entire company, and especially the Engineering, Product and Design (EPD) org started to think and talk about trust in all of the decisions they make on a daily basis. Priorities shifted, and certain projects that were critical to building and maintaining trust were prioritized. 

“My job as a researcher is to ensure the products and services we are building are in line with the needs of our members.” 

Wow, really pivotal work. So grateful for all you do for our company and our members. You really are living our core value of ‘putting members first’. So what excites you most about where SoFi is headed?

Sarah: I am most excited for the innovation I see coming. We’ve built several individual products over the last couple of years, but I think we’ve barely scratched the surface in uncovering how our products can work better together. I see tremendous opportunities ahead as we find ways to help our members learn about and manage their money in smarter, more efficient ways.

Lastly, tell us one fact that others may not know about you. 

Sarah: I’m an avid home cook. I taught myself how to cook by watching a LOT of Food Network in the 90s and 2000s. Prior to the pandemic, (and having kids!), I did quite a bit of international travel and one of my favorite places to visit were the local markets and grocery stores. While I hope to get back to that kind of travel soon, for now, I’m learning to garden and grow herbs in my backyard. 

Now I know who to turn to when I need a new recipe idea. Thanks for sharing insight into  your critical behind-the-scenes  work to ensure our products meet our members' needs. 

Next up, we’ll talk to a Director, Product Manager who’s partnering cross-functionally to drive the strategy to develop and deploy new products and features.

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The individual featured is a SoFi employee. Their personal experiences, obviously, do not take into account your own specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. Results will vary.

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Kari Scheidt, Talent Brand @ SoFi