Uber is now offering drivers in select cities free financial planning through a partnership with a robo-advisor called Betterment. This announcement is coming on the heels of two huge headlines in Uber-land: the imminent rollout of the ride-hail startup’s first self-driving car, and a federal judge’s rejection of a proposed $100 million settlement with drivers in California in a worker misclassification lawsuit.
Uber mentions neither in its announcement about teaming up with Betterment. The fee-free services will be first available to drivers in Seattle, Boston, Chicago, and New Jersey, with the option to expand the offering to drivers in other cities later this year. Drivers can use the Uber app to open a Betterment IRA or Roth IRA for free for the first year, with no minimum account balance and a team of advisors to walk them through the steps of setting up a retirement account.
Uber is touting the new services as part of its ongoing effort to help its drivers save money and plan for the future. Meanwhile in the background, the company is waging a costly fight to keep drivers classified as independent contractors, arguing that it is a technology platform that connects drivers to riders, not an employer in the traditional sense. The class action lawsuit challenging that classification appeared headed toward a $100 million settlement, until last week when a judge rejected it as unfair and inadequate.
Uber’s efforts to speed up the adoption of self-driving technology throws another wrench in drivers’ long-term prospects. Previously, CEO Travis Kalanick had said the transition between human drivers and robotic ones would be a multi-decade process. But earlier this month, the company said around 100 self-driven Volvos (which for now would include a trained driver and engineer to monitor the process) would be picking up passengers in Pittsburgh within the next few weeks.
In other words, drivers may need to start thinking about saving for retirement, whether they’re ready or not.