Category Archives: Podcasts

‘Shark Tank’ investor Kevin O’Leary says bitcoin is too volatile for his portfolio — but says he would own a crypto ETF

Business Insider | Emily Graffeo | Dec 2, 2020

Kevin oleary on pomp podcast 1 - 'Shark Tank' investor Kevin O'Leary says bitcoin is too volatile for his portfolio — but says he would own a crypto ETF

Shark Tank investor Kevin O'Leary told The Pomp Podcast on Tuesday that bitcoin is too volatile and illiquid for his portfolio, but he would consider owning a basket of cryptocurrencies in an ETF.

O'Leary has created multiple ETFs as the chairman of O'Shares, and he said that a crypto ETF could be the most liquid way to buy and sell bitcoin. The investor said that right now there are too many fees associated with getting in and out of bitcoin, but he does own a little bit of the coin right now.

"Give me the top 7 cryptocurrencies, put them into an ETF wrapper, and let me invest in it with liquidity so that if I want to buy a million dollars of it in the morning and sell a million dollars in the afternoon, I can do that in an ETF format," he said.

He also told host Anthony Pompliano that doesn't believe there will be only one successful cryptocurrency, and coins like Ethereum will benefit when more investors see cryptos as stores of value and potentially a medium of exchange. Whereas equity investors can buy a "basket of stocks," it's harder for crypto investors to load up on multiple coins. An ETF would solve this problem.

See:  Hedge funds, not hipsters, may be powering bitcoin’s second big rally

Also, the seal of approval from the SEC that the ETF would require may convince more institutional investors to buy bitcoin, he said. O'Leary said institutional support is "slowly creeping" into the bitcoin market, but many investors are still hesitant without "clearance from the regulators."

"If tomorrow morning we woke up and the SEC said you can create an ETF with bitcoin and we think bitcoin is legitimate payment system and storage of wealth, not only would it go up, you'd have a lot of people like me investing in it, because I'd say ok, I'll give it a 5% weighting," added O'Leary.

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Fintech Fridays EP48: How to Connect and Resonate with Customers Through Podcasting

NCFA Canada | Nov 13, 2020

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EP48: How to Connect and Resonate with Customers Through Podcasting

Guest: FATIMA ZAIDI, CEO and Co-Founder, Quill Inc. (LinkedIn)

Bio:

Fatima Zaidi is the CEO and co-founder of Quill Inc. the world’s first one-stop marketplace where podcasters can find pre-vetted expert freelancers who will save them time, improve their podcast quality, and help grow their audience. As a member of the National Speakers Bureau, Fatima has spoken at various events around the world on media and tech trends leading her to keynote on world stages alongside speakers like Gary Vaynerchuk, and most recently Richard Branson. In addition to being a commentator for BNN Bloomberg, she is a frequent contributor to publications including The Globe and Mail, and Huffington Post. Over the past few years she has won two Top 30 under 30 awards, the Young Professional of the Year by Notable Life, and one of Flare Magazine’s Top 100 Women.

 

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About this episode:

Fatima Zaidi, CEO and Co-Founder of Quill Inc joins Fintech Fridays host Manseeb Khan to understand why podcasts have grown 200% in the last 6 months, and how influencers and corporate brands are building authentic customer relationships and motivating prospects with them. They talk about inspiring stories of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, building trust, advice for female (under-represented) founders, and how to connect with affluent, educated millennial professionals. If you’re new to the power of podcasts, tune-in to learn why they are quickly becoming an integral part of a company’s marketing mix, today.

 

Subscribe and tune in each Friday to check out the latest movers and shakers in fintech. Listen to more podcasts here:

Season 1 | Season 2 | Season 3

 


Fintech Friday Transcript of Episode 48: Fatima Zaidi

Intro: Welcome to fintech Friday's a weekly podcast brought to you by the National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada and partners. Covering all things fintech, blockchain, AI and alternative finance.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:00:00] Hey everybody Manseeb Khan here. Thank you for tuning in to another fantastical episode of the FinTech Friday podcast. Fantastical is now a Oxford dictionary term. And I've joked about this before, but yeah, I did it. I made a request to make fantastical a word. Is my dad happy about it? Absolutely not. Fantastical is not a word at all. And it is something that I made up in these past 50 episodes. Anyways, moving on. This week's episode, we're doing something a little different. FinTech is something that I love talking about. I can talk your ear off and nauseam. But, aside from FinTech, there's another thing that like to I talk about as well. That's podcasts. And who better to help?  Honestly make this conversation that much more credible than my guest today, Fatema. Fatema, thanks so much for sitting down with today. Super excited to have you on the show.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:00:53] Thank you so much. It's a pleasure to be here.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:00:55] Awesome. So, Fatima, could you just for I mean, for the audience could just tell us a little bit of who you are and essentially a little bit of what your company does?

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:01:04] Yeah, absolutely. So I am the co-founder and CEO of Quill Inc., which is the world's first marketplace for podcasters. So, if you're an indie podcast or a company looking to start a show or even outsource elements of your existing show, we are your one stop shop. We work with brands and corporations to create their branded podcast. So, we do have a full service agency team. And for people who don't necessarily have those big brand budgets, we also have a marketplace where you can go on and hire freelancers curated by us who are all podcasting experts for a range of different services that you might need. We also won the Listen In Conference, which is the world's first enterprise podcasting event that's held in L.A. Of course, everything's been put on hold because of COVID this year, but we are looking forward to moving ahead as soon as there's a vaccine that's readily available and your guess is as good as mine. But yeah, I would say that we are a full service podcasting company, a one stop shop for anyone who wants to start a show or grow their audience.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:02:08] Awesome. So how did you, I guess, get started? I mean, like podcasting is now, honestly, it's all the rage, all the craze. Pretty much because everybody's doing it. Everybody and their mothers doing it. My dad jokingly was telling me he wanted to do like a Bengali poetry one, which I was like, OK, I mean, my Bengali is not as strong as yours, but I guess I can edit that.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:02:31] There's definitely a market for it so props to him.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:02:34] Oh, 100%. I'm well aware. There's uncles calling me. I'm getting Facebook messages now about it.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:02:41] Your dad sounds really cool. He sounds like one of those hip uncles that I wish my dad was friends with.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:02:48] Hey, if it helps, he became a hip uncle because only I mean, as his son, I just keep calling out on like just like the Boomer stuff that he does. And I was like, hey, dad, you can't be on Facebook just talking about conspiricies with uncles. Like, you got to, like, write something, let's do something. Let's get creative. So, how did you get started in this whole space?

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:03:08] Well, you know, I run an agency for quite a few years, and one of the biggest requests that we started getting towards the end before the agency got sold was, you know, corporations and enterprise companies that we worked with, like the big banks, big tech companies wanting to move aggressively into the podcasting space. And I just really found it fascinating as a medium, because unlike other forms of marketing, like performance marketing, it's all about mass downloads and mass targeting. But podcasting, the more niche and engaged your audience is, the more impactful. And so, I just started as a consumer. I listened to ten podcasts a week. And so, I started really following the industry, you know, following a lot of studies that were being put out in the industry. And one that in particular really stood out for me. And I think was the turning point when I decided that I wanted to get involved in the space was Midroll, like they did a massive, I would say, interview process with hundreds of thousands of podcast consumers like myself. And they found that all of these people that they interviewed, sixty one percent of these people said that they purchased a product or a service after listening to a podcast, which is pretty incredible when you think about traditional advertising that only converts at one to two percent.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:04:20] So I said, OK, it's really interesting that we're spending hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars, like performance marketing, that it's about mass targeting that converts at one to two percent. What if you spend a fraction of that budget for a smaller audience that's more niche and more engaged, where the conversion rates can be up to sixty one percent. And so just like really from that train of thought, I just started seeing an exponential growth trend. So I decided to productize our services and that's how I launched Quill. We started off as the marketplace because I wanted to make it accessible to anyone and everyone who wanted to start a podcast. It's a low barrier to entry. So who cares what your budget is? You should be able to put out really good content. And then, you know, all of those clients that we worked with came back to us and said, it's great that you have a marketplace. It's great for the indie podcasters, but we're a big brand. We need a full service team around us. And so launch another agency that lives alongside our marketplace where we work with corporations like CIBC, RBC, Bay Street, Microsoft to create their podcast and market them.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:05:27] Yeah, that's very incredible. Yeah, it makes sense. It makes sense that, you know, you create a--companies definitely want a full service team like I mean I'm a one man army when it when it comes to this show. So I don't need a full team. That's more people than me.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:05:43] What you would need is our marketplace that you wanted a logo or you wanted someone to edit your podcast files or convert the video into audio or distribute your show like you probably have one ad hoc services that you might need. And so you only want to spend like a couple hundred dollars to get something up and taken on. You just go to our marketplace and hire a freelancer.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:06:04] 100%.Yeah, I totally would do that. So I mean, now that you talk about like listen to 10 podcasts a day, what I mean, how has that list changed now that you've transitioned from being like just a corporate girl to being like a female founder? Like just like how does that list change? Like, how is. Yeah, like how is that list changed and how is that mindset kind of changed?

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:06:25] Yeah. And when you just to clarify, when you mean how the is list changed, I mean in terms of priorities or in terms of..?

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:06:31] Yes, in priorities and I guess like what you're absorbing now, right, because like stuff, you know, coming from an agency like this, like the stuff you listen to, like something you absorb as someone that works an agency compared to the stuff that you absorb as a founder--the list. There's some differentials in that list? How has that list kinda changed I guess.

 

[00:06:52] I would say it's interesting because like as a CEO, my entire career, I've been a sales person so very much focused on contributing to the company's bottom line. And revenue has been a very core focus. As a CEO, you have to wear just so many different hats. And like the biggest hat, I would say that I have to wear is managing a large team. And you know, that is definitely, I would say, an experience for any early stage founder, because you go from becoming an individual contributor to having to manage the day to day productivity, motivation and retention of your team. And so there is a huge mindset shift in terms of your priorities day to day. What what matters to the long term success of your business? But I would say it's funny. I used to spend my days listening to podcasts like cereal and, you know all the junky sort of..

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:07:45] Oh, yeah, OK,

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:07:47] Awesome podcasts that have you on the edge of your seat, but the I think my list of of shows that I listen to are very much either in the mindfulness space to make me a better CEO or things that make me a better leader. So, Radical Candor is a show that I love all about supporting CEOs navigate through difficult challenges and becoming a better leader, an effective communicator. Another show that I absolutely love as a founder is How I Built This.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:08:13] Great show.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:08:14] So good, right? It's so good. And the reason I love the show so much is because they literally any time I have a bad day, I put on an episode. The one common thread between all of the success stories is that they had to go through all of the really difficult days. There was multiple failures before they iterated their business to a point where it was successful. And it kind of reminds me that even though being a CEO or a founder can be a very isolating experience, there's millions of people who are going through this entire process with you. And I think it's just kind of a comforting motivational podcast for me. And then there's just so many that I tune into week after week. But I would say those two are like my consistent--constantly coming back to any time I'm having a bad day.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:08:55] Yeah, I know. You brought up a good point of I guess like the best analogy I could come up with is like being a salesperson. You're so used to being the quarterback of the team. You're like, hey, I'm the one, I'm scoring the points, I'm throwing numbers on the board and then being a founder, you're now a coach. You can't get run out as much as you love to just like run out on field.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:09:16] I love that. I love that analogy.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:09:19] OK, perfect.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:09:19] And that's a very good analogy. That's exactly what it is. You literally go from like, you know, hustle, hustle, hustle to. Oh, my God. Now I have to worry about the day to day politics. Now, I have to worry about people being happy. And yeah, it's a humbling experience. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world. And I think you have to sort of master the art. But hey, you signed up for it when you decide to start a company.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:09:42] Exactly. And it just yeah...podcasting is just one of the many mediums where founders and I guess everybody can realize that, like, hey, you know, like you're not in this boat alone. There's like hundreds, if not thousands of people having just a shitty day as you are. It's totally fine. Everybody has it. Now, here's like little tips and tricks to make your day that much more better. And I think that's pretty incredible.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:10:05] I used to be so naive before I launched Quill. And in a former life, when people used to ask me why I wanted to start a company, I used to naively tell them it was because I wanted to be my own boss and not be accountable to other people. And now I realized how far from the truth that statement could possibly be. I almost feel so foolish looking back, realizing that you are so much more accountable now to your clients or customers, your investors, your employees, your team, yourself, the amount of pressure. And I would say accountability is ten fold. And so if you're starting a company because you want to be your own boss, that is not a good motivation or impetus because it will not last on the scale.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:10:46] Yeah, no, that's true. And like the crazy part is the realization of the accountability you have to have for yourself skyrockets. And it's like, hey, if I don't figure this out, there's nobody else. I can't go to a boss, I can't--There's no hierarchy. I'm the top of the pyramid. Where am I going to go? Ask the sky? What am I going to do? You can't do that. So switching gears, how do you think podcasting has now become important when it comes to running a business like do you--podcasts are popping out left and right. You're seeing it--it's like we're still very much in the early stages of podcasting. Do you see it later becoming more of an integral part of businesses later on?

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:11:32] I wouldn't say later, I would say it's becoming a very integral part of businesses today. I think podcasting or rather the pandemic has sort of shown us that marketing teams have to sort of re-imagine what their business is they're going to look like in the in the short term. And how are they going to continue communicating with their customers and their employees in a time where, you know, the face to face touch points are just no longer possible. And I think we you know, if you look day to day, we use so many brands like Slack, Amazon, Google, Facebook Donalds. But do we really have an emotional connection or relationship to them? No, absolutely not. Podcasting can really change that. An example that I like to give people is Ben and Jerry's. I love ice cream and I've never been particularly loyal to any ice cream brand like I'll literally, whatever's on sale, I'll grab it. Whatever tastes good, I'll have it.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:12:22] But after I listen to the Ben and Jerry's podcast episode on How I Built This and then further saw their statement that they put out for the Black Lives Matter movement... I developed such an emotional connection and bond with the founders and their story and the inspiration behind Ben and Jerry's and what it took to get there that now I exclusively only buy Ben and Jerry's when I'm at the grocery store. And so I didn't--you know, it's just the perfect example of, you know, they become influencers. You end up trusting their product recommendations. You end up understanding their brand story. They become human. It's not just a brand far away in the distance that you have no connection to. And that is the perfect example of a story. Lush is another example. Now, I like, buy so many Lush products after hearing their story on a podcast. And so I would say in the 1980s, every company had a phone number for their business. In the 1990s, it was a website. In the early 2000s, it was social media and I think in the next five to ten years, everyone, every company will either have a podcast or be advertising on one. So we're still early in the hype cycle. But you know, in 2007, if you were one of the first people on Twitter, you're by default and influencer today. And similarly, if you're podcasting today, you will be an influencer in the next five to 10 years.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:13:38] Yep, I totally agree with you. Podcasting--like you have the ability to build such an intimate relationship..

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:13:47] It is intimate.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:13:49] Very much so because you get to...Because like people who have been like I mean, there's been so many situations are like, man, I wish I was a fly on the wall in that conversation. Now you can! You can literally sit--like I woke up and I forgot to turn my phone off and I was listening to like--I was listening to a podcast and I woke up and I was like four in. And I was like, oh, crap. I got I got I got to go back. So it's like, oh, wow. I'm like re-listening to old episodes. And I was like, oh yeah. Forgot about that. Or like this or that. It's...yeah you're right. Like brands have now they have the ability to build a very intimate relationship with their customers. Aside from...Hi, I'm Ben and Jerry's, here's my ice cream. It's like no, like this is the cool things that we're doing when it comes to Black Lives Matter. It's some amazing things that we're doing when it comes to like all these different kinds of food.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:14:31] Here's our purpose. Here's our mission. Here are values. Here's how we treat our employees. Here's what we're doing for our philanthropic efforts. And yeah, it's just like they become--They go from becoming this like, powerhouse brand to just becoming, you know, it's just a human interaction or a human connection. And the cool thing with podcasting is, unlike events and physical touch points, that typically offline tactics have the power of forming stronger relationships with podcasting, even though it's an online tactic, you reach a global audience. And so you're not sort of confined by geographic boundaries. And yeah, I just I think if you're a brand that is targeting to affluent, educated, millennial professionals, which is typically the audience that tunes into podcasts, that's 80 percent of the workforce that has purchasing power, then it's a no brainer that you should be starting a podcast.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:15:22] Yeah, I mean, you brought up a good point of like you have the ability like you have two abilities, like one, you know, like you're in between someone ears, like you in their head for a huge chunk of the time. So you have the ability to, like, not only get buy-in for your brand, but have buy-in for you as an individual. You as a CEO, you as a founder. And it's kind of amazing that you can take like the culture stuff that you spend so much time building within your company. You can share that with everybody and get more brand by it. That's always been like the biggest, I guess, issues with founders, like how do I share my culture? How do I share my message? How do I share my vision with everybody, not only investors, but the people. Well now you can with a podcast, you can sit down like. Hi, I'm Manseeb, host of FinTech Fridays. I'm a 25 year old kid that doesn't know anything about FinTech or anything. I sit down with people that do. That's my show. That's it. It's a really crazy, incredible journey.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:16:16] It is. And you know what, like not forget brands for a second. I mean, even just like the barriers of entry are starting of a starting a show is so low you literally need to have a mic and an Internet connection. That's essentially it. And so...

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:16:30] You don't need a mic you can just use your phone.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:16:33] I mean, I cringe when people use their phones, but yes, you could technically use your phone. All you need to do is have a story and content to share and there's something really cool about that.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:16:44] So how do you think the space has changed due to COVID? I guess like podcasting space? And I guess it's like business as a whole?

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:16:54] So I would say that before the pandemic, when we had just launched in the New Year, a lot of people were saying that it was a huge risk because podcasting could still be a fad. I mean, I know it's been around since well before serial launched in 2014 I would say people were still very skeptical of its tactics. I think because of the fact that the pandemic has isolated people, people have been looking for new ways to consume content and people have been looking for new ways to stay connected. And we've seen like an exponential growth curve in the industry, not just with our own sales and revenue, but also just the amount of podcasts that have been created. I mean, I think before the pandemic, we were at something like eight hundred thousand podcasts and now we're at one point five plus million podcasts. Even in this short period of time, the amount of new shows I think get the stat is something crazy. Like five thousand new podcasts are launching every week. And so I think the pandemic is really shown us that we've been so reliant on physical touch points and human interactions, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But as soon as that would sort of put into question, people are thinking of new ways that they can allocate their marketing dollars, that they may have budgeted for conferences and events and videos and client lunches and team meetings. And now it's like, OK, well, how do we still continue to stay engaged with our audiences, our listeners, our followers, our customers or our families and people that we are typically just looking to shoot the shit with? It doesn't have to be some like a work agenda. It can literally just be a way to...I have actually some friends who have started a podcast just for their internal group of friends to talk about fantasy football all week. And, you know, props like what a great way to create content and have fun while doing so. You don't have to have some larger agenda for it. It can literally just be to have fun. So I think people are going to continue using it as a tool to stay connected with people. And it's like very similar to your phone. Zoom calls, Instagram. It's just another medium of a way that you will communicate. And I will say that everybody consumes content in different ways. For some people, it's visual. For some people it's audio. For some people it's written. And until this point, there has been no form of audio content that really can resonate. I mean, radio is real time, so it doesn't really count. But for someone like me, I consume content. The best way for me to learn is through audio while I'm actively engaged in other activity. And until podcasting became mainstream, there was like audio books. But that's pretty much it. Like where else can you tune in to hear really good content on the fly?

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:19:31] So yeah, no, I agree with you. I feel like if I'm not listening to music like I have in past episodes, I'd be listening to a podcast to prepare for my podcast. Which is very strange, but like it works like you're right, I mean, wow, that's now I think about it...I think I helped launch like two podcasts this week because, like, I have so many friends that are, that want to, you know, like they want to talk about their own little like X, Y and Z, like, you know, like what's it like to be like a founder, like in the mental health space? I was like, perfect, I can help you on the phone. So, I guess what would be, you know, now that now that like podcasting, everyone, everyone's launching a podcast right now that my dad might launch on probably after I've done this. What would be some, I guess, like tips and tricks that you can share dealing with so many brands, you know, like going all the way from a corporate level to just an indie one.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:20:25] Well, I think really defining the whole of why you're launching your podcast is really the first step, is that like your dad just doing it to stay connected to his friends and have a touch point with them. Then great. Are you looking to go into it full time? So I think once you figure out the why, the how becomes a lot more clear. For example, if you're wise to bring in sponsors and monetize on your show, then I would say your production quality and budget should look very differently than someone like your dad who's doing it just to have some fun. We want to record off of your phone if your goal is just to have fun. And that's totally OK. But if you are, you want to use Zoom, that's totally OK. But if you're looking to bring in a sponsor or monetize on your show, then you really want to start thinking about your brand elevation in your position and you want to make sure that your audio quality is spot on. You want to make sure that you have invested in your cover art, that you are thinking about ways to market your show, that you have a really great mic and like, you know, using a recording software that typically doesn't distort the audio waves. So I would say typically like figuring out the why is the first thing. And then the second thing is figuring out your ideal listener profile. You can't be everything to everyone. So your dad's case, it would be like Bengali uncles who really enjoy poetry or it doesn't have to be Bengali. My dad is Pakistani and also loves poetry. So he would be like the perfect target audience for your dad's podcast. Yeah, we'll connect our dads for sure. They'll definitely like to jam out to some poetry sessions, but...Yeah, like figuring out your ideal listener profile I think is so key. And this is an exercise we do with all of our clients, like who are we looking to target with this content and with our marketing efforts. And then once you know who that is, everything should be revolved and tailored around that ideal listener profile. And then just, yeah, from there it's just about really going to the steps, which is the easy part, to be honest. Like everyone can purchase equipment, create episode plans, source guests, hire people to help you with all of those things off of marketplaces like Quill or Fiverr. And but yeah, I would say just like figuring out the why should always be your first step and then everything else will sort of fall into place.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:22:40] Yeah. No, I agree with you. The biggest... Yeah, I mean, that's one of the biggest obstacle or hurdle of like figure is your why, right. Like granted like in podcasts, in life, in business, or what may have you, like, just figuring out why we're this, who we're doing this for is the biggest thing. You brought up a good point, podcast like profile. I don't think that's going to be a term that I think they're going to start using dramatically in the coming future of podcasting, because I don't think when people are launching a podcast, I mean, I don't think they're really keeping the end listener in mind. You know, like it's very similar to marketing, very similar to sales of like, you know, what's your customer persona? What's your customer profile or do they look like what are the sound like? What do they do? How do they shop? How do they buy? Very similar when it comes to podcasting. And a lot of people I think they make the mistake, which I've done personally of like they'll look at like really big podcasts like Joe Rogan or like Tim Ferris or what have you. And they have since there since a brand name so big, their audience is a lot wider. You have people like on Rogan, you have people that are fighters to hunters, to neuroscientists, to philosophers, to everybody. But they feel like an indie the podcast. Your stuff's really not for everybody. I think that and I don't think a lot of people consider that at all.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:23:50] Yeah, I would definitely agree with that, and you're right, I think Joe Rogan's target audience for his podcast are essentially white males, like he's very clear on who his target audience is. And that's great. That's great that he has a very specific niche. I am definitely not listening to Joe Rogan, but I love podcasts like... Yeah, look, I love podcasts with a lot of diversity that include diverse programming, for example. And so I would say that those are more of the shows that I typically gravitate towards. But yeah, I mean, like I would say, again, being hyper clear about who it is that you're trying to target. And yeah, if you are looking to promote your products or services, doing it in a way that's extremely tasteful and doesn't come across as salesy and promotional because that's not what podcasting is for.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:24:42] Yeah, no, not at all. You definitely you definitely want to have your podcasts to be a sales pitch because nobody likes big sales pitches. I'm a salesperson. I hate hearing sales pitches. Like leave me alone.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:24:52] So the best way to be a salesperson is to not be a salesperson.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:24:57] Yeah, it's everyone makes that mistake. I mean they'll learn. Everyone will learn and it's a matter of same. So, I mean, so you've got a good point. You know, you like to listen to episodes or so you like listening to shows that have more of that diversity. I mean, what do I mean by very diverse? What I mean, like what advice would you give to, like, female founders, I guess more specifically, like like diverse female founders? Like, is there anything that you, I guess, either listen to from a podcast that you kind of carry over into your business or something that you read in a book? What advice would you give to younger up and coming female founders?

 

[00:25:38] So I would say in typically when I look at my network, it's always the women in my network that are afraid of being too aggressive, too promotional, too opinionated. It's funny, I was on a work call this morning with a group of women in the tech community that I'm friends with. We have this like monthly standing meeting. And one of the women were talking about how she constantly suffers from imposter syndrome, where she feels like when she's in a room pitching to investors, she feels like she knows her product is good enough, but doesn't know how to articulate it and sell it and come across as super confident and aggressive and bold. And I would say that that that is something I find a lot of women struggle with. And so, you know, the system itself is flawed. Absolutely. I recognize that, especially for underrepresented founders. But we can counteract a lot of that by advocating for ourselves. At the end of the day, we are CEOs of our own brand. And so my advice is always take credit for your ideas. Don't act, don't get... Put up your hand, advocate for yourself, work on your personal brand, because if you don't, nobody else is. And then I think it's normal for everyone to suffer from imposter syndrome. But I try to remind myself whenever I'm sort of hearing those self-critical, self doubting moments that nobody else has more or less of a right to doing exactly what I'm doing. And the difference is just going for it. So that is actually probably my biggest piece of advice, because as a female founder and particularly one of colour, I would say that I have to be so over-prepared every time I'm in a meeting because there is no element of error and judgment. I cannot...There is no second chance, typically, I would say with us and we're already walking into the room with a disadvantage. We're already walking into the room where we don't look like the people who are giving us money and making the decisions. And so if there is going to be a clog in the pipeline and you're going to be so overprepared, then there's no room for imposter syndrome because you have done your preparation and with preparation comes confidence. So that would probably be my biggest learning lesson in the last few years that I would sort of pass on to other founders.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:27:55] Yeah, I mean, you bring up a good point of imposter syndrome among a lot of a lot of women deal with it. Right, because it's I mean, I was as you're talking, like I got reminded of, like my negotiation skills course that I took a couple of years ago. And like one of the things a professor brought on, like women are not as aggressive as they should be. It's like if you want to raise, ask for a raise. Reason why guys get raises is they ask for a raise.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:28:16] Your professor has not met me.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:28:22] Yeah, clearly!

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:28:22] I would say I would say not all, but like...it's definitely something that I think a lot of women are now working on and being conscious of. We have a long way to go. But I think like for me particularly, I want to try to keep profiling female founders in my community and championing them so that we have more examples to look to.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:28:44] Yeah, I mean, that's that's that's a huge part of the show of like having like female founders. You know, not specifically the financial tech space, but I guess now the podcasting space as well of, you know, having amazing people like you on the show just gives a chance for everyone else to kind of like, oh, crap, she's doing it and she's of colour, OK? Like, she's just as aggressive as me and she's very similar to my personal type. So why am I not doing it? Why am I think I can do. So yeah, it's incredible that what you're doing is to create that, you know, you're taking the traditional rhetoric of what it means to be, I guess, a woman of colour in business and like flipping it on its head and just running with it.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:29:27] Thank you. Yes.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:29:30] OK, so before we wrap up, is there any last minute tidbits that you want to, I guess, leave the audience before before we wrap this guy up?

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:29:44] Yeah, I would just say that, you know, this is an extremely difficult time...

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:29:50] Whatever however you want...

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:29:51] I would say that, like I know that, yeah, I would say that I know that this is a really difficult period as people are navigating the pandemic and reimagining in the short term what their lives are going to look like. And so, you know, just try to stay as connected as possible as you can with people and maybe podcasting is that medium. Maybe not. But offline tactics do have the power of forming stronger relationships. And I've built my entire network one handshake at a time.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:30:17] Love that! One handshake at a time. That's going to be the....today's episode. For this. I'm calling it one handshake at a time. So Fatima will be the best way for audience members to either reach out to you personally, for business, to reach out to you will be the best forum for people.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:30:35] Google me, I'm pretty accessible. My handle is @zaidiafatima across the board. Our website is quillit.io. I'm like very accessible if you want to find me. It's like not hard to so feel free to reach out directly on any platform.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:30:52] I love it. Fatima, thank you so much for coming on the show today and I'm excited to have you back on.

 

Fatima Zaidi: [00:31:00] Thank you so much, thank you for having me. Really appreciate it. Happy podcasting!

Outro : you've been listening to Fintech Fridays brought to you by NCFA and partners. Tune in weekly for the latest fintech Friday podcast by subscribing to this channel. The National crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada is a non-profit actively engaged with social and investment fintech sectors around the globe and provide education research industry stewardship services and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers. For more information please visit ncfacanada.org. Oh yeah.

 

End of Podcast

 

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech Fridays EP48:  How to Connect and Resonate with Customers Through Podcasting The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

Latest news - Fintech Fridays EP48:  How to Connect and Resonate with Customers Through PodcastingFF Logo 400 v3 - Fintech Fridays EP48:  How to Connect and Resonate with Customers Through Podcastingcommunity social impact - Fintech Fridays EP48:  How to Connect and Resonate with Customers Through Podcasting

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2020 FINTECH DRAFT PITCHING AND DEMO COMPANY WINNERS!



FFCON20 Pitching and Demo Winners - Fintech Fridays EP48:  How to Connect and Resonate with Customers Through Podcasting



NCFA COVID 19 letter to government to support Fintechs and SMEs - Fintech Fridays EP48:  How to Connect and Resonate with Customers Through Podcasting

NCFA Newsletter subscribe600 - Fintech Fridays EP48:  How to Connect and Resonate with Customers Through Podcasting

 

The Investments Most of Us Can’t Buy

CATO Institute | Jennifer J. Schulp and Caleb O. Brown | Nov 11, 2020

accredited investor - The Investments Most of Us Can’t Buy

Regular folks don’t have access to a vast array of investments, and that’s because of Securities and Exchange Commission rules. Why is that? Jennifer Schulp explains.

"Jennifer Schulp says that it is time for the SEC to give Americans the freedom to choose their investments. As it stands, the accredited investor definition decreases community investment and restricts the market."

Continue to the full article --> here

 

 


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - The Investments Most of Us Can’t Buy The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

Latest news - The Investments Most of Us Can’t BuyFF Logo 400 v3 - The Investments Most of Us Can’t Buycommunity social impact - The Investments Most of Us Can’t Buy

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2020 FINTECH DRAFT PITCHING AND DEMO COMPANY WINNERS!



FFCON20 Pitching and Demo Winners - The Investments Most of Us Can’t Buy



NCFA COVID 19 letter to government to support Fintechs and SMEs - The Investments Most of Us Can’t Buy

NCFA Newsletter subscribe600 - The Investments Most of Us Can’t Buy

 

Fintech Fridays EP47: How to Change the World: Risk culture and Work-life Balance

NCFA Canada | Nov 6, 2020

JOIN US ON A STORYTELLING JOURNEY EVERY FRIDAY.

FF EP47 Michelle Beyo Finavator - Fintech Fridays EP47:  How to Change the World: Risk culture and Work-life Balance


EP47: How to Change the World: Risk culture and Work-life Balance

Guest: MICHELLE BEYO, Founder and CEO, Finavator (LinkedIn)

Bio: 

Michelle Beyo is Founder & CEO of Finavator INC, Money2020 RiseUp Alumni, Women in Payments Global Console & Award Committee Member, FinTech Strategic Advisor, CPPO Member, Open Banking Initiative Canada FinTech Co-Chair and Associate Producer of The Social Movement Amazon Prime Docu-Series.

Michelle started Finavator as she is passionate about payments & financial inclusion. Her background in Telecoms, E-commerce, Prepaid and Loyalty programs nurtures her passion for the world of tech. She has 20 years of extensive industry experience driving innovation across the retail and payments industry. Her most recent roles were as Chief Client Officer for a Blockchain startup focused on consent based data sharing, Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at InComm, and Director of Loyalty Solutions for Aeroplan Division of Shop Local program.  Her company, Finavator (www.finavator.com), helps Enterprise and Fintech companies present their customers with innovative payment and digital services. Finavator's team has experience and expertise in Payments, Open Banking, Prepaid Solutions, ISO 20022, NEO Banks, E-Commerce, Affiliate Marketing, Micro Loans, Rewards and Loyalty Solutions.

About Finavator

Finavator (www.finavator.com), helps Enterprise and Fintech companies present their customers with innovative payment and digital services. Finavator's team has experience and expertise in Payments, Open Banking, Prepaid Solutions, ISO 20022, NEO Banks, E-Commerce, Affiliate Marketing, Micro Loans, Rewards and Loyalty Solutions.

Finavator logo - Fintech Fridays EP47:  How to Change the World: Risk culture and Work-life Balance

About this episode:

Michelle Beyo, Founder and CEO of Finavator joins Fintech Fridays host Manseeb Khan who talk about taking risks, celebrating success and finding work-life balance. They talk about innovation during crisis and the need for Canada to adopt Open Banking and how companies that aren’t creating 50/50 diverse teams are leaving money on the table. Join us for an action packed episode that will have you participating in a sprint triathlon next year.

 

Subscribe and tune in each Friday to check out the latest movers and shakers in fintech. Listen to more podcasts here:

Season 1 | Season 2 | Season 3

 


Fintech Friday Transcript of Episode 47:  Michelle Beyo, Finavator

Intro: Welcome to fintech Friday's a weekly podcast brought to you by the National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada and partners. Covering all things fintech, blockchain, AI and alternative finance.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:00:12] Hey Everyone Manseeb Khan here, thank you for tuning into another fantastical episode of the Fintech Fintech Friday's Podcast. My guest today is Michelle Beyo. Michelle, thank you for dropping by. I'm super excited for having you on.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:00:50] Yeah, I'm I'm excited to be here. And I created a word that I guess is doing pretty good out there, called Finavator, I just smashed fintech an innovation together.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:01:03] I love that. So tell me. So tell me more about not only the word Finavator, but your company as well?

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:01:10] Yeah, sure. So I started Finavator last July and largely started it because my background's pretty diverse, did six years in telecom, eight years in shopping, online shopping, three years and prepaid, one year in blockchain, and took all of that experience and have gone out on my own to create a boutique fintech consultancy called Finavator.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:01:34] Oh, awesome. So what made you want to actually get into consultancy? The business itself? You know, you have like just honestly going through your LinkedIn, you have so much experience. I didn't I honestly know where to start. So I was like, I'm just going to let her kind of take over and just go from there. How did you like how did you get started? Like, what made you what did you like, go on, like hiking. Like you saw a tree went Finavator. Like how did this idea hit you?

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:02:04] Yeah, so, you know, I think it took a little longer. I was at FinTech and I went to Money 2020, and it was my fourth year there in twenty seventeen. And just Money 2020 is one of those conferences that you go and you're just awe-inspired to all of the innovation and technology and things around the world that are coming out to help consumers. And I came out of there and I think it was my first intro to blockchain and I ended up finding a course at Ivy that was called fintech innovation. And it was the first of its kind or mastering fintech. And I ended up getting into that course, getting the company I was at to pay for half of it. And I just got there. It was a four day, 80-hour pre-read. And I ended up with all the SVPs of the banks learning about digital currency, blockchain, fintech crypto. And I was just like floored. I'm like, this is the future of finance. And I, I just fell in love with it. And that's really why I jumped out into that blockchain company as a chief client officer for a year and took that risk. And after doing that for a year and my friend passing away, I kind of just want the times now. Like, if you want to make change in the world and give back and try and help financial inclusion and drive innovation forward, just jump out there, create a company and try and help companies, fintechs, succeed faster and banks work with more fintechs.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:03:39] Yeah, I mean, again, super sorry, about hearing your friend passing away. But you did bring up a really good point of, you know, why not right now that we're living in the midst of a global pandemic? I mean, I know we were chatting well before I sort of work it out because I'm just like, hey, you know what? The world's burning. I'm also going a six pack. At this point, I got nothing to lose. Right. You might as well try something like something you got if you keep throwing stuff against the wall. Something’s going to stick.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:04:07] Yeah, I think like through crisis comes innovation because people are already… at risk, you can take more risk. It is when you're not at risk that you're fearful of risk. I think because I was a good corporate girl in the corporate world climbing the corporate ladder for so many years, like 15, 16 years. And then when I went out into the blockchain company and you experienced crypto winter and you end up at a start-up of any kind, you end up doing multiple different roles.  You learn so much. You're like when you're at risk, you can take more risk and true risk can come a lot of reward.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:04:46] Oh, I agree with you that that must have been such a crazy, I guess, switch of going from corporate to go on a startup. That's very much a very common theme in the fintech space. You have a lot of classically trained corporate bankers that decide to start their own company. I'm like, oh, OK, I'm working a lot more hats that I'm used to. This is was quite the juggle.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:05:10] Yeah, it's a different culture, but I really love it. It's really an innovation culture. That is, how do we work together instead of compete? I feel like that's the differential. There's so many different ways that companies can work together to drive stronger revenue versus just compete. Guess it's the same market.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:05:31] Yeah. So I mean, sticking to that, what are some of the ways that companies can collaborate instead of competing right now that you know, now that we have COVID, now that we have all of this chaos going on in the world, I feel like now we should be closer than ever. How, I guess, what are some of the ways that businesses can start to collaborate, instead of competing?

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:05:54] Yeah, I think a lot of people are changing their business model on its head, some people were in the entertainment business. Right. And basically turn their platforms into different ways to reward customers. I think it's just taking a look at your consumer and what do they need. And if you offer them one piece of the pie, how do you partner with someone else to offer them another? So I worked with a global reward's company and help them enable microloans so you can pay for your employee rewards. You can use your points, you can use your credit card, or you can get a microloan. So in Covid times, that's so important as you're watching microloans becoming almost a necessity on your online shopping platforms because people need to kind of pay as they can. So if they could break it down into six payments, then they could pay for other essentials and still get the thing they wanted to some degree, right?

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:06:58] Yeah, I absolutely. This actually beautifully translates into my next question about one of my favorite topics. I think it's your favorite topic as well. Open banking. You know, how does open banking look now in a COVID world? And I guess how does the conversation now change when it comes to open banking? To me, it felt a little bit more up in the air, like it felt like a nice to have. Now it seems like the conversation has dramatically changed where now it's it seems like a necessity. Like we like we need open banking.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:07:34] Yeah, I fully agree. So I just actually got my first board seat on the Open Banking Initiative of Canada and I feel extremely passionate about it because as you look to the UK and Australia and Singapore and Brazil and other countries that have taken a lead, Canada is just so far behind. And you're right. I think it just, we did really well in 2008 and we didn't have a financial crisis because we're conservative. So let's be conservative and let's hold off. And the consultations got held off due to covid, but thankfully, they're back on the books in December and that just got announced a couple of days ago. So I think the need for it is great because when you look at the opportunity in the UK, there was a platform built to allow a government when people were applying for subsidies to get access to show that they had the right qualifications. Where in Canada we're just passing everything out and hope we can look for who qualified later. So the thing about open banking is giving consumers the right and the ability to share their data and have better access to their data so they can make better budgeting decisions. They could save money on services because they can move from one location of a service to another provider in a much easier manner. And if today's society, like I think it was today, driving my kids to school and they're talking on the radio about how a study just came out, that we are number one, two and three of the most expensive telecom providing services in the world.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:09:20] Yeah, yeah. I think I would agree with that. That's. Oh, my God,

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:09:25] It's insane. And I come from telecom. So I think if someone was to do the same study on banking, I bet you we would be almost in the same situation on a global scale. So if we are the most expensive telecom and the most expensive banking in the world, what are we doing for Canadian consumers? And I think open banking is the thing we need to do to give them competition of ability to choose better and cheaper services for not just themselves, but their kids.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:09:56] One hundred percent, and especially now that we are moving into more of a global economy, you know, the first step is definitely helping out, you know, us Canadians, but also later on helping out the world like we definitely want. There's so many amazing companies here in Canada that can benefit the world so greatly. And open banking is just one of the many forms that that's going to take. Like Canada has so much amazing things to offer to the world. Unfortunately, we're just super conservative.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:10:27] Yeah, we're super conservative. And I actually state that quite a bit like where is the Shopify of financial services coming out of Canada? Because if we could do Shopify so well as an export that has really driven as a technology so many different opportunities as a platform for so many companies and done so well and is probably the most profitable stock in Canada better than the banks at this point. We need to find a way to have the financial service offering that is similar to Shopify in the fintech world to compete with bigger wallets that are QR based on a global scale because it's becoming globalized banking. Right. Open banking is opening the door for the financial race to who's going to be the financial services of the world. And Canada should be at the table. But without open banking, we're not even there.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:11:26] Yeah, no. I mean, I absolutely agree with you. There's actually no reason why our hats should not be in the ring for that race.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:11:34] Yeah, we're making some good strides I’m always a positive thinker, so, you know, there is some payment modernizations on the books. We have the consultation happening in December. There's a new finance minister who I'm hoping will see the vision of all of the industries in Canada trying to come together to share their voice like the OBIC and NCFA really trying to share why open banking is important. And then you have Colin Deakin, who's a senator, an independent, really trying to share the voice and education into the government to help them understand what the advantages of open banking is. And it's not like a turn on the switch and go right. We have to say, yes, Canada's moving to open banking and then we have to get our competition laws right. We've got to get our data laws right, and we have to modernise our payment infrastructure. So these are three important things we have to do. But all of those things have to happen to create the right infrastructure for open banking. So I'm really hoping we get some type of clear decision in the near future.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:12:47] Yeah, and I believe that conversations like this having I mean, you're also part of the NCFA board as well, which is I mean, congrats on both. It's I mean, these kind of conversations are super important. Right? These are conversations that not many people are having only because not many people know. Right. I mean, the general public honestly couldn't tell you what the heck I was talking about. And, you know, education does play a huge role into this. Education is going to play a critical role into any of the fintech initiatives that we're trying to move forward here.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:13:20] One hundred percent, and I think it's kind of on us to have the right marketing insights to help educate everyday Canadians.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:13:30] Yeah, I agree with you. So we'll switch gears here. Canada has introduced some new payment rails. So I guess what is the I guess like what is the relationship with open banking, with the new payment rails? Like, I guess how does it how does open banking, like, play a role, into the new payment rails?

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:13:54] Yeah, so they're the new payment rules are necessary to get up to ISO 2022  standard so that we can be part of the global messaging of having the right data infrastructure. So I guess I'm getting complex here, but I come from online shopping and in I guess 2002 I was doing online shopping and affiliate marketing where you can go, you can shop and then you would get double or triple the points because there was metadata in the transaction that could prove where you shopped, how much you spent, what you purchased, so that that payment can go from, let's say, Macy's to United Milage Plus Shopping Mall. So you got three times the points. And in the current system, we only have payment about, payment date, who it went to and who it came from. That's it. There's no place for you to actually put additional data insight. And therefore, like, we have kind of a rudimentary payment system that you can't put the invoice information into. You can't put additional insights that would be able to help you do better accounting, cheaper accounting. And these systems are available and embedded in the UK system. It's been mandated from a swift perspective, and Canada didn't have it on its roadmap until further down the path. And now it's coming in. The new links rails with IBM and hopefully by twenty twenty two, these functionalities and accesses will be available to really modernize our payment system.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:16:05] What's, you know, being a female in Fintech what is that like? You know, I remember in one of our earliest episodes we had Sue Britton on and she mentioned how, you know, the finance space is very much an old boys club.  And hopefully that's not the same case when it comes to fintech. I guess, like, what is your take on being a female founder in the fintech space?

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:16:35] Yeah, it's a great question. So I'm hoping that the fintech space can kind of correct what was happening in the financial space, but it's still challenging. I've largely been the only female in the room. As I came up through my career, I was in sales, executive sales, ran departments, but I was really happy. I worked for a company called Income and my boss was Brazilian and he was just 2015. We're creating a 50 50 executive team and I want you on it. And it was the best three years in that sense. Not only did he have a 50 50 executive team I created, but my team also is 50 50 and we were one of 30 countries and we were the only country with that initiative. But I have to share like in three years, I think we accomplished the most. So what I learned is that 50 50 is actually the best way, not only to drive revenue, because it's actually being proven that having more females on your executive team or board will drive about 13 to 15 percent added profit at the end of of the year. But it's also really a way to get both sides of innovation and drive things forward. So I've purposely made Finavator 50 50. I when I got offered the board seat and it was my first board seat, I asked that before I accepted that the board be made 50 50. So I think it takes. Individuals to speak up and to ask for change, otherwise it won't change because I've definitely see like when I go to work with the company or if I'm seeing someone present, I'll check their team online. And if it's all guys. It's just hard for me to kind of respect the vision that they have because, you know, you're missing an entire product mindset by having five guy founders, not to say you can't do it, but then go get some female board members to diversify your vision to ensure you're making the best decisions for your product and your profit line.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:18:54] Yeah, no, I agree. I mean, a lot of these five guy, five guy founded companies will definitely throw around the word innovation in a lot of their presentations. Very tough to be innovative. If you guys are just five guys, five guys like what are you guys doing.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:19:14] You're missing the side of the fence over there.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:19:18] Yeah. You're missing the whole side of the fence like what was going on.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:19:23] Yeah, take take the time to make the effort there's like great groups out there, like women in payments who are executive really powerful females in the industry around the world that are making innovative change within their organizations or have their own companies or SHEO or Wnet. And you can't make the claim that they can't find the women anymore. I think it's so much easier to find passionate, educated women who understand fintech or payments and can really help ensure that you get consumers that are also women because they have money, too. And if you're not paying attention, you're just you're missing money. That's how I like to position it. It's not about diversity and equality. It is. But it's also you're missing money because you're not paying attention to the whole demographic. And internally, you're missing a culture that could be so much greater if you had better diversity.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:20:21] Yeah, I think missing money is going to be the name of this episode. As I said it like like it rang. I was like, that's so perfect. I love it. So let's zoom out just a little bit here. Let's get out of FinTech. Let's talk a little bit more. General, what does being a SHEeO mean to you? Yeah, let's start with that.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:20:45] Yeah. I think, you know, I became a SHEeO activator back in twenty seventeen the same time that I went to that fintech IVY course, and I was just inspired. I got to it's called radical generosity. Like what a term.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:21:05] Please, please dig deep and I love that.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:21:08] Ok, so. So Vicki is the CEO of SHEeO. Awesome. Awesome name. And she created it because I think she came from the VC space and realized that no females were being funded. So she created this model on its head, which is basically called radical generosity. And it was started out of Canada and anybody can basically donate. It's a mandated amount, the same amount for anyone all around the world. I believe it's twelve hundred dollars. You gift it and what you get back is you get a vote so that money all goes into a pool and then organizations all apply that they have to be fifty one percent owned by a female or someone who identifies as a female. And then it all goes to a vote. I think there's over five hundred activators in Canada. It's actually happening next week. It happens one year and happens in different times all around the world, in Australia, in the UK and the US and all five hundred activators get to take a look at all applicants put in their choices and then they drill it down. And then there's another presentation. They drill it down again and then they offer some money. It's not a ton, but they also offer mentorship and different aspects to try and help the venture succeed. So it's just a really cool way to feel like in this world of chaos that you're doing something good.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:22:51] What would be some of the advice that you'd give up and coming female founders or, you know, like a younger version of you?

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:23:10] Yeah, I you know, I take a lot of calls, like 15 minute intro calls, I just did a presentation at Money 2020 on work-life balance. This is my first time on the main stage, even though it was virtual and it was me and someone else who won money 2020 rise up, Genevieve Dozier. And we were just talking about work-life balance in the midst of this entire global pandemic and the feedback and the women that have reached out just to say that was inspiring or that was helpful or thank you for saying imposter syndrome exists. I totally have it. It didn't know what it was. I think there's so many women out there that just have imposter syndrome, which is simply, you know. Being nervous or thinking you don't deserve something or being offered a chief client officer role and stepping back and saying, well, can I be a chief client officer and just know that, get in there, take the role, apply, you're going to do phenomenal. Don't wait till you have one hundred percent of all qualifying aspects. Put yourself in the ring and shine in personality and the want and will to do better and learn more. So you reach out to other women network every day, have a 15 minute chat with someone you don't know and be inspired. Stay positive. Think big.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:24:39] I love it. I love it. I think you brought up a really good point of the imposter syndrome and not being afraid of, you know, growing into a role. I mean,  I think that's the feeling that everybody kind of falls into of thinking they're not. They got the role, but they don't think they're good enough. I think they have to get on the other side of that and thinking that, hey, I could grow into this role  That's what happened to me. When I first started the show, I was like, I don't know anything about Fintech. Why am I talking to CEOs and founders of companies that are just absolutely killing it? I'm like, I don't know anything. And then as the shows at the shows, kind of like rolled in, I started to learn a little bit of terminology. So I do a little bit more research now on what? Thirty-seven. Thirty-eight episodes deep. I'm super comfortable. So I think, like. Allowing yourself to grow into the role, I think that's one I think that's an absolutely crucial step of. Yeah, accepting that like, hey, you know what I might not like, I might not think that I'm fit for the job or I might not think that I'm fit for the role now, but I'm going to get there and I'm just going to keep putting in the work every single day until I get there.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:25:52] Yeah, and be humble, like I think even if you get to a higher level, be humble, but also celebrate your wins, right? Like if something happened, like I signed a US bank and a Canadian bank, take a moment and enjoy and appreciate that situation, because I think so many of us, whether it's big or small, just kind of achieve things but don't acknowledge them. And you only grow confidence by acknowledging what you've achieved.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:26:22] Yeah, That's, I agree with you. I what I try to do is when I find out that you're coming on the show,, I just I ran upstairs to the to my little sister's room and I was like, I got a guest, let's go. And she's like, let's go. Give me a high five. I got a high five. She's like, yeah, I'd go to your research and that's it. That's my little one. The time I get a gust, any time, any time I get it, like on time. Oh those little ones, they mean so much.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:26:50] Yeah, because, like life is we're not in control of so much right now. Yeah, you're in control of your little world and if something good happens and it celebrate it.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:26:59]  One hundred percent. I totally agree with you. So. You ran a triathlon. I think hunger, you know what? Running a marathon has been one of my dreams ever since I was in high school and I ran track. So how did that? Yeah, how did that start? Like, you not only did you run a triathlon, but raise money, like talk about that entire story, please.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:27:27] Yes, it was total by fluke, and I was an athlete in high school, but I would say it ended there like I became more work-driven than sports driven. So I never first thought, like I never was planning to do a triathlon. I was a marketer and a sales girl and running three departments, and I was leaving to my new blockchain company. And the last thing I was doing for Incom was this PR. We got this really cool approval, this program to work with Visa, to sponsor five athletes, to go to the 2020 Olympics, which I laugh because that's not happening due to the pandemic. But the intention was good. We fought five years ago, had got the program and worked and got it approved, and in twenty eighteen and we're doing the PR launch at kids of steel event. So Kids of Steeles in Caledin and it's been happening for twenty-five years and I think like three athletes have made it to the Olympics from that program and it's super cute. My kids went.  Signed them up. My son, just like he was really little at the time, you just had to swim one length of the Olympic sized swimming pool, go on his little tricycle around the parking lot and do one hundred meter run. He got like a metal and bubbles and candy and face paint like it's so cool getting kids, like, into the triathlon and kind of loving it. But my daughter was the oldest of all of the kids from our office. And I didn't realize he actually had to as a nine-year-old, she had to swim for like the Olympic size swimming pool, which I didn't bring goggles for. She had to do a one-kilometer bike or three-kilometer bike in a one-kilometer run. And she finished and she was the last of her heat. He came over the line kind of crying. She's like, I was last. I'm like, no, this is you against you. You finished next year. You come back and you beat your time. She goes, Mommy, I'll come back. If you come back, I'm like, OK. Yeah, like a triathlon next year. So I didn't really train. I became a vegetarian, though, in a kind of pre-training for the triathlon. So it's like, I better finish this thing. Like, everybody, I work with is going to be at the finish line, including my kids watching me. So I did train a little bit in swimming because I was like I could bike, I was a runner, I could run, but I can't swim. Like it was eight lengths of the Olympic sized swimming pool. It was a 15-kilometer bike and a five-kilometer run. And I just wanted to make sure I finished. And thankfully, I came out of there, I finished. I was not hurt and I was not last into me. That was awesome.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:30:18] That's, I'm listening to your daughter do all that. I got exhausted. I was like, I can't do I if I could do half of that, I'll grab a beer. I could do half of That's. Wow. That's incredible.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:30:31] Wow. That's I think it's like why push yourself to like I was kind of hoping for rain, but like, you know, it didn't and I showed up and then that's it. You just have to do it. So sign up and then feel guilty if you don't show up.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:30:31] Your right.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:30:50] I'm sure you can do it. And it was a sprint triathlon, so let's be clear, it's not a full triathlon.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:31:00] My heart just sank. Like I might die midway through this.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:31:08] I started in the water fighting to swim. I've seen videos. At least this was in an Olympic sized swimming pool. I had my own lane actually was a lane with the woman who won the triathlon. So embarrassed because I was three lengths behind her, which means I was like eight and a half minutes behind her. We started at the same time. I'm like, yeah, I am not the Olympic swimmer, that is for sure.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:31:33] And you know what? You did it to raise money. So it is what it is. I mean, you did it. That's all that matters. So that's what you finish your daughter finish. Your son had a great time. I honestly would much rather be your son in that whole situation. I want to get my face painted and bubbles. That's fantastic. Oh, I'd love that right now.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:31:55] Yes, well, hopefully without pandemic, it will come back next year and then you sign up. There you go.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:32:00] Ok, perfect. So my perfect I just signed up for a triathlon. So that's great. Friends are going to love, love, love story. I'll bet on you. This will be fun. No, no, no. They're going to bet. They're going to bet against me. I, I can already see the brackets in my head like they're going to do it like sports. But I like OK, he's going to pass out on the three minute mark in the pool or he's going to fall on his bike. I just know.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:32:26] You'll make them laugh. It will be good.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:32:29] Yeah. I mean that's my role. I guess. So the Michelle is there any last minute. I guess tidbits that you want to leave the audience, anything that you feel like you haven't gotten off your chest yet, maybe something that keeps you up at night. Anything you want to, I guess, capped this episode off with.

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:32:53] Yeah, I think, you know, kind of to my earlier point, we're not in control of pretty much anything surrounding us right now, but you'd be impressed what you were able to achieve if you set your mind to it. So write five like ridiculous goals and trying to achieve them, because you use this time, this unique time in this weird world that we're living in to try and push yourself, because those lessons that you learn is something you'll take in this future and there's still a future ahead of us. So what are you going to do when you look back at this time of what you achieved? And for me, it's like just having really big goals and then being audacious enough to try and achieve them. So I hope more people take that initiative on whether those goals be small, whatever they be like. Can we just be better humans? Can we just try and help more people take 15 minutes to have a call with someone and try and inspire them or just let them vent or whatever that might be to just be a little bit more human in these crazy times?

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:34:04] Right, so everybody heard that I will be seeing you all in the triathlon with me. I'm not doing this alone. That's one of my big dreams and that's not one of yours to no discussions. Yeah, that's yeah. That's that's a fantastic way to cap this off. So what would be the best way for our audience to either reach out to you personally? If I have any questions about Finavator itself or if they wanted to grab a quick, quick 15 minute call with you?

 

Michelle Beyo: [00:34:35] Yeah, so my LinkedIn profile, a great way to reach out to me or finovator dotcom, you know, trying to spur innovation and help fintech close deals with banks and banks, closed deals with fintech, or just create more innovative products to compete with Asian technology that is driving really innovative consumer experiences. And we need a lot of North American companies to grow and expand and drive incredible user experiences so that our financial systems stay in country or at least compete on a global scale. So, yeah, really excited to find out who I can collaborate with and grow this mission and drive open banking forward. Thank you so much for having me today.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:35:28] Yeah. No, Michelle, thank you so much for coming on the show and can't wait to have you on again and possibly see you at this triathlon.

Outro : you've been listening to Fintech Fridays brought to you by NCFA and partners. Tune in weekly for the latest fintech Friday podcast by subscribing to this channel. The National crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada is a non-profit actively engaged with social and investment fintech sectors around the globe and provide education research industry stewardship services and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers. For more information please visit ncfacanada.org. Oh yeah.

 

End of Podcast

 

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech Fridays EP47:  How to Change the World: Risk culture and Work-life Balance The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Fintech Fridays EP46: Making Business Borderless: International Payments and Partnerships

NCFA Canada | Oct 30, 2020

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EP46:  Making Business Borderless:  International Payments and Partnerships

Guest: ALASTAIR THOMPSON, Global Head of Business Development & Partnerships, TransferWise (LinkedIn)

Bio: 

Alastair Thompson supports the growth and global scaling of TransferWise through strategic corporate and consumer-facing partnerships. With his in-depth industry knowledge of the FinTech sector and long-standing global relationships in banking and technology, Alastair has launched partnerships for TransferWise with GoCardless, Xero and TUNE to name a few. Under his guidance, TransferWise continues to grow globally, expanding its footprint in new and existing markets.

Alastair has been part of the global FinTech community for over a decade and supported multiple teams and work streams including product design and analysis, sales, client solutions and management. He’s collaborated with major industry players, from startups to some of the world’s largest financial institutions. Having joined TransferWise because of his passion for better transparency in the financial industry around the world, Alastair continues to build relationships with market players that solve business problems, bring effective and sustainable solutions to global markets, and support TransferWise’ main objective - transparent and cost effective banking transfers for businesses and consumers alike.

About TransferWise

TransferWise offers a cheaper and faster way to send money abroad. With 8 million customers worldwide (including a 16% increase in Canadian registrations during Q2 of this year) TransferWise processes $6.8bn Cdn in cross-border payments globally every month, saving customers $5m Cdn a day compared to using a bank. Up to 8 times cheaper than the bank, this fintech is a distruptor in the banking sector with a goal of driving transparency in banking around the world and in Canada.

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About this episode:

Alistair Thompson, Global Head of Business Development and Partnerships of TransferWise joins host Manseeb Khan to talk about their mission to make sending money as easy and free as sending an email.  They discuss how TransferWise began 9 years ago, and how transparent pricing, putting customers first and partnering with banks and non-banks globally has grown into a $5 billion monthly business and an international fintech success.

 

Subscribe and tune in each Friday to check out the latest movers and shakers in fintech. Listen to more podcasts here:

Season 1 | Season 2 | Season 3

 


Fintech Friday Transcript of Episode 46: TransferWise

Intro: Welcome to fintech Friday's a weekly podcast brought to you by the National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada and partners. Covering all things fintech, blockchain, AI and alternative finance.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:00:00] Hey everybody Manseeb Khan welcome to another fantastic episode of the FinTech Friday podcast. I'm super excited for this guest. This is a company that I've heard of. From when I first started, like these guys were one of the big dogs, when I first enter the fintech space like three or four years ago, and now they're even bigger than ever. So it's a win-win. Today I got Alastair from TransferWise. Thanks so much for jumping on the show today.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:01:06] Oh, yeah, my pleasure.Thanks for having me Manseeb awesome intro.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:01:11] Thank you. Thank you. So Alastair for the I mean, you know, my mom does listen to this for my mom. And like the three or four people that may not know anything about TransferWise or anything of what you do, could you just give us, like, a brief intro?

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:01:26] Yeah totally, what's your mom's name?

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:01:29]  My mom's name is Shaheen.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:01:33] For Shaheen using what TransferWise does is move money internationally to move it from one currency to another currency, but at a lower price, an honest price and at a speed that was never thought possible. Nine years when we were founded back in back in 2011. And the way that we do it is through a combination of having our own local bank network and the technology that we've developed so that we can move money around the world in seconds, which is pretty awesome. And then if you compare on price to a bank, a bank can charge up to five percent on an international transaction. And we are average prices is zero point seven five. So it's pretty cool what we're doing.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:02:25] Yeah.Point 75 something, I mean, point five percent to everybody may not sound a lot, but Jesus Christ, does that five percent add up if you're doing like daily transactions and that's one person and then you just multiply that, oh my God, it is like the just the banking fees in itself is astronomical compared to like what the startup rates are going at. It's yeah. It's a wild.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:02:53] And this is it's really important to us that everybody understands what they are paying because there's typically a transaction fee and then there's an additional fee in the exchange rate.You know, when you go on holiday and you're at the airport, a few years ago, you used to get cash out and then the advertisers would say no fees or free today or whatever, and then you'd get an exchange rate to switch your Canadian dollars into US dollars or British pounds or wherever you are traveling to. But within the exchange rate was the fee and it's not transparent. And still, unfortunately, most of our market, most providers in our market, banks and otherwise still do this.They still have a hidden spread in the exchange rate. And that's what TransferWise is all about. We use the mid-market exchange rate, which is absolutely what that currency is worth at that particular second. And we separate all of our fees away from the exchange rate. And it's super important to us that customers understand what they're paying.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:04:06] Yeah, no, it's I mean, if one of the more overarching themes in the two seasons, now three seasons of the show has been an education in the fintech space. Right. It's been, you know. Teaching people, making them aware of like, hey, you know, like the hidden bank fees, transaction fees, and why these are so important and why people should be paying attention to it, not only on a consumer level, but if you are a business owner. If you are. Yeah. If you are business owners of these these little transactions here, they might not make sense to you. I mean, and a lot of sense, nor should they be a business to run. But understanding where all these little intricacies come from and understanding, hey, you're getting gypped on paying five percent per transaction fee just to send money or to do X, Y and Z. It's not good. And it's going to cost you so much more money in the long run.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:05:03] Exactly, and it's our whole mentality as a company to pay as you go and pay for the service that you get. And I think that the sort of OG way of doing it is to charge unsuspecting customers as much as possible because they didn't understand what they were paying because it wasn't clear. And our mentality is that you should pay the same for the service that you require.And I'm very proud to work for TransferWise I've been here for three years now. And I'm still equally proud as when they offered me a job.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:05:42] Yeah. So how did you get started? I mean, like, you know, being the global head of business development and partnerships, I mean, that's no small role, right? Like That's, you have to start at some point. Right. Like, how did you like how did that whole journey begin?

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:06:02] For me personally, a while ago, I'm getting older, so I took a year, a high street bank, and I was part of that back office processing team and immediately didn't like it because you were taught one process and you weren't given any ability to enhance or change the process and you weren't given the opportunity to learn a different process because that was somebody else's job. So I quickly lost interest in this and moved to one of the early fintechs which was Earthcorp, which was after that payment solution provider that was acquired by Visa after I left and I spent 10 years there and I worked through the operations team, you know, Treasury reconciliation and product, and then started working on the client-side. And that's why I love doing, you know, I  love meeting prospective customers, existing customers and figuring out solutions for them. And I always knew about TransferWise in the market, but I didn't know that they were moving into B2B and working, working with APIs. And as it goes in in England, I met someone in a pub who works for Transferwise and he told me that this was sort of the next venture. So I applied and I've been at TransferWise, three years now and, you know, pushing, pushing, TransferWise from being a presumedly consumer and small business provider into this platform space took a few years because, you know, significant work to do to move this forward. But we're in a really strong place now on the nonbank and on the bank partnership side. And it's super exciting place to work.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:08:09] Right. I mean, to your little point of getting older, I found my final white hair, my beard probably a couple of weeks ago, and I just turned twenty-five recently. I'm now hopping on the same boat of being old or as my younger sister says, a boomer, which makes no sense because I'm a millennial. but you know c'est la vie I guess.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:08:34] I got a first grey hair like recently.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:08:40] It was a shattering I, I froze. I just looked in the mirror. I'm like getting old. I got to get it together.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:08:49] My wife's super excited about it. Oh yeah.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:08:53] Women love the salt and pepper look. That's. It's I mean you can love it all you want. Doesn't make me feel better at all. It doesn't help.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:09:02] I take grey hairs then it falling out. I am much happier with grey hairs then no hair. No. Yeah.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:09:11] No that's you know that's, that's. So why did the B2B side interest you a lot more than the consumer side? Because not many people think like not many people get very excited about business to business. There is a very, very small percentage of people who get excited for business to business. Why were you so excited for the business to buiness side?

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:09:31] Good question, because I believed I had something to offer a TransferWise, but I only worked on the business side like partnering with banks and corporate sized businesses, and you never really had an interaction with the end customer.And that's where I sort of developed my experience. I like it because it's such a challenge to get right because it's super complex making these solutions work for an end customer that you don't have a direct relationship. But when you get it right, the potential is enormous.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:10:12] Could you talk a little bit more on Mission zero and what and like what the overarching goal is of Mission zero?

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:10:33] Yeah, totally. So we believe we have a mission that sending money should be as easy and as free as sending an email because it is an exchange of data. So we have a target as a company to keep reducing fees and to it to an endpoint of eventually being free. And it's quite an ambition, but it's super motivating for all of us to TransferWise because it means that you never settle, it can always be cheaper. And we have such a granular view  of our costs. And because we're a cost plus margin price business, we see our costs as good as our customers money. So we're all super, super careful about limiting them where we can and reducing them as we scale. And then we pass those savings on to our customers. So instead of increasing margin as far as our cost reduce, we reduce our prices. And again, it will get us ever closer to being free, although it's probably quite a few years off yet.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:11:57] Yeah, I mean, 0.75% you guys are getting close , right. So that's no small feat. So, you know, you guys are doing incredible stuff.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:12:08] Thank you. It's complex because the more available we get to the more countries, that TransferWise is available to the consumers and businesses and each different market, its different currency pair further and further complexity to the model. So. Well, on the one hand, keep investing TransferWise to make things faster and more scalable and more available, and then on the other hand, we're trying to reduce our costs at the same time to reduce our prices. So it's it's a juggling act. It's not easy, It's not easy, but it's a cool problem to solve because it means we're always thinking about the customer and putting the customer first.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:13:08] Yeah, I mean, hey, like you said yourself, the company's mission is to make money transfer as easy as sending an email. It should be free. That's no small feat and nor should it be easy. Like anything worth doing, anything that's going to change on a global scale of what TransferWise mission is you don't expect it to be easy, nor should it. Right. It feels easy. And let's find a different problem to solve because it's not that interesting.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:13:34] Yeah, yeah, it goes back to how we were founded, our founders just on time at a party in London and my party days are behind me, but I've never talked about solving international payments on a on a Saturday night with someone before. But thankfully, they did. And they just saw this need in a in the market to sell for. And it's it's incredible really how far we've come in nine years. We're moving five billion dollars a month globally now, which is no small feat, but it's also a fraction of the total addressable market of international payments. So we still see ourselves as just getting started really.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:14:21] Wow that's a great mindset to have. So, you know, now that we are in a pandemic. You know, you know, world economy shut down all the fun stuff's really happening. How is covid-19 impacted TransferWise and how do you think that has impacted the fintech space as a whole?

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:14:44] It's been a weird year, hasn't it? I mean, firstly, at an employee level again super proud of our company, we transition to fully working from home within a couple of days of the guidelines back in March. And we transition pretty seamlessly to keep operationally servicing customers and continuing to develop product changes. It's no small thing to suddenly all be doing it from home. But the company was awesome in supporting employees and getting people what they needed very quickly to do it. In terms of the space in general. I mean, we've seen a lot of companies cutting costs, which is simply difficult decisions to make to lose staff through to this period. Thankfully, we haven't needed to do that. And so we've been able to keep progressing as a company and to keep advancing what we have rather than cutting back, which is super cool.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:16:01] Yeah, no, that's I mean, that's incredible. Cutting costs during these times is no fun for anybody. So you did briefly mention of like, you know, now that TransferWise is opening up to more countries and now you have more interesting challenges. You know. My question for you is like, how do businesses go global?

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:16:34] I'll use TransferWise as an example, we started with only having one currency pair, we started moving euros to pounds and pounds to euros, and this might surprise people from where we are now. But, you know, TransferWise I started on a spreadsheet of people effectively peer-to-peer matching their trades. We built this up over time so that we got a customer base in Europe and we started to expand within Europe. And then as we've gone, we've added people on the ground in new offices and in different markets. I think to broaden out the answer to your question, it's super, super important to understand the market you're going into and how it differs from where you are today. So I think a discovery phase before any investment is probably the first step to look at. Is there a need for the business that's been created in that market? How is the market served today by other players? And is the business that you're bringing going to ultimately help people or businesses  with their needs in the way that we've evolved globally. There is a global need to move money internationally, and consumers and small-medium businesses are typically underserved in every market by legacy banks. So we found that that made globally.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:18:27] Yeah. I mean, you brought up a good point. Understanding. Does the country need your business? Could you help them? Could you help people in your business? I think it seems like a very silly question to ask yourself, but by all means, it's probably one of the best questions to ask yourself, like, hey, are we needed in Singapore, like, are we needed in Thailand or we need in this country? Oh we're not so lets move on to countries where we aren't needed. And I would do like discovery phase and all that fun stuff.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:19:01] And it's important to get the cultural differences right as well, because, you know, it's obviously English is predominantly spoken language worldwide and to my detriment. I've never really learned a second language because I've never really had to. But in a way, we pride ourselves that our content is available in 11 different languages. And it's not just translated to through Google Translate or something. It's translated by someone who is bilingual. And all that stuff is super important in moving in into a new market where you perhaps didn't have the presence or the brand name previously, right?

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:19:49] Yeah, I know, as you're saying, that I got a flashback to my international business course. And my professor was like, any time you go to a new country to make sure you learn the culture, make sure you learn the language, make sure you learn all the customary things. You can bring the Canadian American ass over there and expect everything is going to go and dandy. The way you do business in Abu Dhabi compared to how you do business in the United States is completely different. And he had that drilled into our heads that I was like, OK, you got a little flashback in class jitters. It's a good lesson. I mean, like, again, it's such an obvious thing of like, hey, of course you've got to you got to do a country. You want to learn the culture so you can learn all the little intricacies so you don't accidentally disrespect or accidentally mess up somewhere and, you know, jeopardizing this whole thing.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:20:40] Exactly, exactly.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:20:41] Yeah, for sure. So, you know, when it comes to making strategic partnerships, what are some things that business owners should be looking for? You know, you're part of the business to business side. Right.  But what should business owners keep in mind? What should they be looking for?

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:21:00] I said to answer from our point of view, first we can look at TransferWise partnerships from sort of two two vantage points. Are we partnering with  a business or a bank? And it enhances their products directly and sort of drives volumes through our products, or are we partnering in the other way around and their product is enhancing our product. If this makes sense. So where we focus as a team is looking at both and TransferWise, as I said, we're nine years old, where we're even younger on a partnership side. So  we started partnering with, you know, with banks initially N26 and Mongo in the U.K., EQbank here in Canada, etc.. And then on the nonbank side, we've partnered with Zero. We've just recently partnered with Ember's, which is a global expense management system. And they're all similar in the respect that our payment services are now available to you, to the partner's customers. And the other way around today is to use a partners capabilities and make them available to our customers. So we do this with reconciliation, Bank feed links, in accounting software, we do it with payment partners. So we  partner with Alipay in China to process payments  to that their wallet holders to really come in both directions. But It has to add value, it has to add value either way. Otherwise it's maybe not strategic.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:23:05] Right. No, I mean, if it doesn't have value, then it can't be strategic. So for a start-up, I mean, a lot of  people in my circle, I come from the startup world. I mean, so do you for startups. So for startups, what partnerships should they be looking for and how would they go about doing it?

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:23:34] It's a good question. So from them, we get approached all the time from start-ups about partnership opportunities, and it's tough you know, from the vantage point of the start-up. It's difficult to get attention and not be ignored because there are so many different requests all the time. So I think the advice that I would give is, is understand the specific edge that you have, you know, understand what you are bringing to the table and be super clear if that is going to add value to the business you're trying to partner with. You know, we get requests all the time that the inbound requests were a perfect fit for your customer base. And there isn't really a deep dive on why or how. And I think the analysis that qualification peices is super important before reaching out, before trying to make contact with potential partners is understanding. Is it the right fit? Is it the customer base that would benefit through a partnership. I make that decision carefully because partnerships are a lot of work that they're not easy to get right and there are a lot of investment on both sides. And the risk of partnering with a startup is there might be no return to the four that would be partners. So take all of that into account before just, you know, casting a net out to see who he replies. And I think that detailed qualification upfront can make conversion percentages much more successful with which would-be partners.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:25:29] Yeah. So you boys, you heard that you just need to make sure you do your homework before you approach Alastair. Don't just give them a shotgun approach on elevator pitch this,come with a detailed plan if you want to partner with TransferWise. That's what you're saying.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:25:52] Getting someone to look at something, it's got to be good, you know, to initially get the attention, but also keep the attention because there's so much opportunity and so much work out that to focus on. It's, again, getting super clear on that initial pitch. And we fine tune ours  all the time. You there isn't a silver bullet to the perfect outreach, but continuing to fine-tune it and make it specific to the audience that you're sending it to. I think this is super important.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:26:30] Yeah. I mean, it's a lot like I know we talked about this before the show, but I guess it's a lot like dating, right? It's like you want to make sure that, like everything, everything aligns. You can't  speed date this. You can't like you can't take the tinder and like online dating approach. I'm just like, hey, I'm going to email blast a hundred companies and then ten of them might say hi. And then one of them might be a strategic partner. That's not the approach.We shouldn't be taking at all.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:26:56] I mean, it's awful and you can really tell when you came up with that, and  it's the same approach that you then get two, three, four or five follow up emails and it's annoying. It's really off-putting. And if you don't make a positive impact on the stakeholder, you're trying to get in touch with they're not even going to look at what you're saying after a point is it's absolutely not the right approach to just start hassling people because the urgency is on your side and on their side.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:27:33] Yeah, that's a really good point. I think a lot of people. It's never on your side because, like, hey, you're reaching out to me. Like, why do you why is there a timeline all of a sudden I'm just saying, hi, I thought this is just coffee what I'm just here for, my double, double life. What's going on is this is ridiculous. Like what? So how would you know, now that you guys are expanding, guys are entering more countries. How do you guys network into another country? Do you guys like how do you find people of influence? Do you reach out to other startups, like how is the approach of when it comes to entering new countries?

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:28:20] Yeah, it's all those things, and certainly this year has made it harder, you know, the way that we like to do is to go to conferences and go to relevant conferences for our industry. And it's and then it's big and so on networks through other attendees. So we have a virtual conference circuit isn't really the same for networking. So what we've had to do in the last year is honestly just spend more time on LinkedIn meeting them. We probably did before. I think that everybody is probably at home at the moment and everybody's online more at the moment. So, you know. Talk to people in an online way rather than in person, which isn't as good, but it's all that we can do right now.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:29:27] Yeah, I mean, again, you're talking to anybody through LinkedIn. It's never fun. It's very it feels very impersonal. But I mean, you know, now that we are moving in a more digitalized world, I mean, you know, we're both in the digital space.It's somewhat inevitable, if anything.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:29:49] It's you know, I get Zoom fatigue at the end of the day because you're just talking into you Mac all day, but it's where we are at the moment, isn't it?

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:30:01] I mean, I have I thankfully have a painting of my youngest sister. She drew like a lake by a dock. So I kind of just look at that. I imagine myself like at a lake house, just like, OK, yeah, we're OK.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:30:17] I love that. And yeah, our apartment, every inch of wall is covered in artwork and photographs. So yeah, it helps absolutely.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:30:31] Like it helps you to sort out for a little bit like OK, we're good, we're good, we're good. Just make it through this meeting that we got five more and then we're good to go. We're done. Just five more and we're done.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:30:42] And it's like yeah it's it's better for the waistline and constant trips to the fridge for snacks as well. Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:30:50] You're telling me I'm miserable. So what are some you know, what are some of the trends and insights that you have your eye on?

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:31:26] Yeah, and I mean, I think, again, maybe I'm sort of going back over to the previous answer, but with everybody being at home, I think the adoption of fintech in older generations, older populations is increased quite a lot this year,  And it's cool. It's cool that a lot of consumers are starting to question what they were using previously and look for disruptive technologies that are perhaps serving their needs better t than how they were using them before. So thankfully, we're in that space and we're finding that, you know, we're still being used regularly by previous customer base and and and new ones as well. I think the other trend that's interesting that's related to TransferWise is regular is showing an increasing interest in fintech, whether it's getting sandbox access that we've seen in  certain markets and seeing how that can be improvements, so not just being reactive to change, but actually building a need to be part of it, which is super cool.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:32:56] Yeah. I mean, I was going to I don't want interrupt. I was going to say finally, good goodness. Finally, man, I've been in this I've been in the space for, what, three years. I've been hearing about regulators from day one. Like there's yeah. You can probably yeah. If I think all the episodes together I can probably section out a good three hours of just talking about regulators.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:33:46] Yeah, yeah. I mean, we'll take it and we've always pushed them to, you know, look at change and look at this is the customer being served in the right way. And one example in Singapore going back a little bit. But you previously had to review someone's documentation for an account which was in person. So we have to have people in person and customers would have to come to the office and have their IDs checked in person. And we petition was woefully out of date and it should be moved online. And it is now and it's just it's an example where we pushed and it's we do similar things with transparent fees and we push for legislation to be become the norm that consumers and businesses should understand and be very aware of what they're paying for cross-border payments.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:34:54] And, you know, digitizing the online check-ins,You guys the whole role is to make things as seamless, as easy as possible. Right. The goal is to make it as simple as an email. And this is one of the many ways that's going to happen.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:35:11] And I understand in Canada, it is going to be faster payment system and some changes to the licensing of stuff and it's all cool. It's all great because it means that the customer ends up with a better service, which is awesome.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:35:32] Yeah, no, that's I mean, onward and upward, right. If anything.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:35:38] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:35:39] All right, Alastair, to wrap this up, is there any last little tidbit you want to give the audience? Anything, any little golden nuggets before, you know, before we close this guy out?

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:35:57] I guess we just talk about why partnerships are important, especially in this I don't know if it's post covid world or current covid world. I think we're still in it, unfortunately. But you know that the need for partnerships, I think is very clear in finance because you can bring improvements to the service that you're offering through for a relatively low build effort instead of going about and trying to do it for yourself. So, you know, banks partner with us so they don't have to hold all the correspondent banking relationships and nonbanks partnership partner with us because they don't have the ability to make payments at all. And we can partner and we can give these services to their customers through a few months of investment and effort. And I think they're going to increasingly grow in importance partnerships in the market because everybody is looking to streamline costs and invest as little as possible for high returns. And obviously, I'm a little bit biased working in partnership. I see an increasing need for them, especially in the fintech space.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:37:31] Yeah. I mean to I mean, again, to your point, it it's more important now more than ever right now that we're so more or less isolated, strategic partnership is going to be the only way now and probably moving forward for you to get in the door, let alone find the door or window, know whatever metaphor you want to use to just help you as a business owner. Just that help you further, you know, expand your business?

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:38:03] Exactly, exactly.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:38:06] Alastair, what would be the best way for our audience to find you if they want to either, you know, talk to you personally or, you know, ask more questions about TransferWise so they can learn more and or most likely, my mom will probably want to know more.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:38:23] LinkedIn is my sort of go to social media so you can find me. Alastair Thompson TransferWise quite easily and such, and we should be happy to chat to your listeners and stuff.  If it's understanding super complex things. That TransferWise can solve , but I'd recommend a help center and FAQ case you get a clearer answer than from me directly. But super keen to talk on a business level.

 

Manseeb Khan: [00:38:53] Alastair Thank you so much for hopping on the show and I'm super excited to have you again. Hopefully in person.

 

Alastair Thompson: [00:39:07] That will be awesome. Thank you so much for having me on.

Outro : you've been listening to Fintech Fridays brought to you by NCFA and partners. Tune in weekly for the latest fintech Friday podcast by subscribing to this channel. The National crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada is a non-profit actively engaged with social and investment fintech sectors around the globe and provide education research industry stewardship services and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers. For more information please visit ncfacanada.org. Oh yeah.

 

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Fintech Fridays EP45: Mission-driven and Consumer-centric Financial Services

NCFA Canada | Oct 23, 2020

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EP45:  Mission-driven and Consumer-centric Financial Services

Guest:  KEITH TAYLOR, Executive Director, DUCA Impact Lab (LinkedIn)

Bio:  Keith Taylor is the Executive Director of The DUCA Impact Lab, an innovation hub founded by DUCA Financial Services Credit Union. The Impact Lab is a hub for leveraging emerging technology and community-based insight to build banking models that benefit all members of the community. Prior to DUCA, Keith worked as strategic advisor to a group of companies accounting for over $500 million of community investment annually. He started his career in international development working on business planning and finance for community owned businesses in the Caribbean. Since then, Keith has worked in Canada and internationally on a variety on initiatives focused on philanthropy, social enterprise, social finance and strategy. He holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University and a BA from Saint Francis Xavier University.

DUCA Impact Lab 1 - Fintech Fridays EP45:  Mission-driven and Consumer-centric Financial Services

About this episode:

Keith Taylor, Executive Director of the DUCA Impact Lab chats with Anna Niemira about consumer-centric and fair banking.  They discuss how a group of underbanked Canadian newcomers back in 1954 focused on solving a real problem in financial services.  Fast forward 65 years later, DUCA’s mission has never been stronger.  From innovative escalator-loans to digging deeper into retail financial literacy gaps, and their commitment to improving the financial well-being of its customers.  As a registered B-corporation, learn how DUCA is innovating and living up to their motto of not only being ‘the best in the world but the best FOR the world’.

Subscribe and tune in each Friday to check out the latest movers and shakers in fintech. Listen to more podcasts here:

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Fintech Friday Transcript of Episode 45:  DUCA Impact Lab

Intro: Welcome to fintech Friday's a weekly podcast brought to you by the National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada and partners. Covering all things fintech, blockchain, AI and alternative finance.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:00:21] Hello and welcome to FinTech Friday's podcast, brought to you by the NCFA Canada, a leading fintech and crowdfunding association. This is Anna Niemira and I am your today's podcast host. Time Flies! We are already in the third season of our podcast. You can always refer to the past episodes by visiting ncfacanada.org, which is our website, to connect with incredible people and their stories. Thank you so much for tuning in. Let me introduce our today's guest. We have the pleasure of speaking with Keith Taylor, Executive Director at Duca Impact Lab a non-profit project, which is channeled by Duca Financial Services Credit Union. Keith, thanks so much for sitting down with me today. I'm very excited to speak with you about Duca Impact Lab and its innovation through social finance. Great to have you here.

 

Keith Taylor: [00:01:28] It's great to be here. Thanks for having me.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:01:30] Well, fantastic that we have a chance to speak once again. You presented about Duca Impact Lab at FFCON20 during summertime, and now we are going to tap into this again. So let us know a little bit about yourself. Like, what was the beginning of your fintech adventure? How did all start for you?

 

Keith Taylor: [00:01:58] As opposed to the beginning of my fintech adventure and interest in the fintech world was when we were thinking about pilots and the Impact Lab and we had a sense of what we wanted to do, but needed to create some partnerships with like-minded organizations and companies. And a key part of the partnership was, how exactly, the technology piece is going to work and help us facilitate these transactions in a way that meets the goals of the partnership. So it was really I'd say accelerated once we started launching the Impact Lab and needed to actually make our pilots work and figure out how to, what resources and partners we could draw on to meet. Those needs and fintechs have been a natural partner. They've been a crucial part of all the pilots we've done in the Impact Lab so far.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:02:57] Yes. So this is actually something interesting because Duca Credit Union's founding year was 1954, so a few decades ago. And, Duca Impact Lab is a new, over a year old project. So what was happening that the members of the organization decided to leap forward and create Impact? What was the pivotal moment when they said, OK, those financial services, the future of the financial services needs a relationship, a marriage between tradition and innovation.

 

Keith Taylor: [00:03:35] So it is really rooted in, the Impact Lab is really just an extension of the history of Duca. Duca itself was kind of an experiment in financial inclusion. We started it, like you said, in 1954. But to dig a little deeper, it was actually started by a group of people that were newcomers to Canada and didn't have access to banking services at the time. We found it very difficult to begin services and access to things like loans and accounts at banks in Canada, but they still need to bank and they created their own bank. And what was interesting about that story is like it's a good growth story over such a long period of time. I think our annualized growth rate is something like 20 percent a year for 65 years. So, you know, certainly a successful business story. But what's always intrigued me and has been a part of the Duca culture since our inception was that you know, the reason people didn't have access, was the realization that the people didn't have access to banking because they weren't able to send the right signals to banks that you could be bank customers. That growth trajectory is really impressive, considering it happened on, you know, based on the business of people who are on paper, not supposed to be very good banking customers. So we wanted to figure out, OK, well, if that was the case, then how is it materially different now and if the signals that we were using then are imperfect? Are there some better signals that we can use now? And we want to create some space to figure out how we could develop some better signals and how we could carry forward that history of providing access to people that didn't have great access to banking with better access to banking. So that's what the Impact Lab is. And it's very much rooted in where we came from. So I wouldn't say it's a new trajectory or a departure from our history. It's really like a natural evolution of where we've been and where we intend to go.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:05:54] So you mentioned about those signals. So what has been missing thus far in the traditional lending system? Because you are talking about people not really being good on paper and banks rejecting those customers. What was actually that pivotal moment that you decided, OK, we need to form, we need to create everything but there's something missing. And it seems to me, from what you're saying, that it's still missing in this traditional banking system. So what is that signal? What what is actually missing here?

 

Keith Taylor: [00:06:37] Well, I think the capacity to evaluate nuance and the importance of relationships has largely been in, phased out as we become increasingly reliant on automation, and decision-making processes are more and more centralized. I think the value of relationships and history with an institution from a credit risk perspective has started to become fuzzy. And what we're seeing, what we're seeing, is, you know, that and what our history proves is that that value is still very relevant. I would add to that, you know, there're some missing transparency pieces in mainstream banking that I think people have just come to accept. There was like, this is the terminal. It's almost like the difference between an applicant and a supplicant. OK, but it's there and it carries forward at a hangover from the banking power dynamic that you saw in the old days. And I think it's still true. You see, the partner and the impact lobbyist like to use the example of buying laundry detergent as opposed to getting a mortgage. And I'm going to steal maybe some of your thunder because I always really loved that example. And it's in, it's very, very true. It's what what is different about banking that makes you kind of leave your meeting with a banker, you know, grateful, grateful that they were actually willing to sell you their product, whereas, you know, you would never, you would never have that level of gratitude leaving  Wal-Mart with your laundry detergent and sitting here. Isn't it great that Wal-Mart sold me this laundry detergent? I'm so grateful for them. They're so lucky to be dealing with Wal-Mart.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:08:39] Yes, it's funny and it's tragic at the same time.

 

Keith Taylor: [00:08:44] Yeah. So I think that there's a lot of unpacking to do when it comes to power dynamics and transparency in banking. And it's one of the things that I think has a real impact on the experiences of people when they deal with institutions and they know it when they deal with institutions that still prioritize that relationship. I think that's something that you guys long prioritized. And it's that, in the way, that we've operated for quite some time and it's still very much part of the experience when we make business decisions and lending decisions. So I think there's an interesting culture in banking as you move through the ranks, and I'm not quite sure if I can synthesize it all in a in a soundbite. But as you move from client-facing service type roles to senior executives an interesting thing happens. You know, you move from a role that prioritizes relationships and thinks there's flexibility in decision making and that things are dealt with on a case by case basis, too, like the opposite end of the spectrum, where we do a fair banking study every year that you get in and through the impact lab. And we examine perceptions of fair banking on a number of different metrics between borrowers and lenders and the borrower side. We had a question about perceived levels of gratitude for your customer. So essentially, like how grateful should your customers be for doing business with you? And at the frontline level, that the number of people that said, oh, yeah, customer should be grateful for doing business with us was very marginal. But as you move up the ranks and especially going into the executive ranks, it actually becomes quite a significant chunk of the respondents that work in financial institutions, said that, yes, customers should be grateful. And I think there's an interesting opportunity somewhere in there for fintech, but also for smaller institutions to really reconnect with that relationship piece and to start using that as a lens for creating value for their customer base.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:11:19] Well, from what you're saying, I'm finding this fascinating because we are moving into the twenty-first century right now and we are talking about artificial intelligence and robots answering to us. And, then, you talk about creating a relationship. That's actually fascinating because it's very untypical. But yet, you find this as a foundation for your business. And this is how actually Duca started the relationship and keeps building those relationships. And, building those relationships has been fundamental to the existing and growth of Duca. And, you are taking that and you are passing this towards the future. Do you think, is it important for traditional financial institutions to open up to fintech solutions? Is it going to change the dynamics? Is this going to change their relationships with the customers, or is this just simply pertaining more to the services they can offer?

 

Keith Taylor: [00:12:33] I don't think technology and automation are necessarily at odds with the relationship driven approach. I think in the best cases, they can enhance that approach, especially when it comes to providing better data to informed advice being given by the financial institution. I think one of the things we also see in that area, banking study, is that there's a big advice problem in financial services, and it's one that fintechs are really well-positioned to help support the improvement of. So, I don't think it's necessarily the antithesis of what I would say there's starting to be an opportunity to identify fintech companies that are really taking a mindful approach to solving a problem that is worth solving as opposed to, you know, building something that can easily be gobbled up by a ban and the value proposition of each company is completely different. And the latter, you know, has an obvious audience, but the former has a chance to do something truly transformational and can fit into that sort of approach that I just described. So maybe, it is maybe, it is a bit atypical, but that's, you know, that's what we see in our business and it's what's driven the success of the credit union and its played role in the risk analysis of the impact of our pilots as well. You know, it's a crucial part of the risk that is underexplored because it's less quantifiable, but it's certainly there.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:14:35] So definitely like tapping into fintech, it seems to be beneficial for either midsize financial institutions as well as for the big banks. But at the same time, what are exactly customers' possible benefits from such partnerships? You mentioned the services. You mentioned also that there are certain applications. But, you know, it's a broad spectrum of applications when it comes to financial apps. So in particular, what are you focusing on?

 

Keith Taylor: [00:15:15] Through the Impact Lab?

 

Anna Niemira: [00:15:17] Yes, exactly, through the Impact Lab, yes.

 

Keith Taylor: [00:15:19] We run, in addition to some larger pilots, some research initiatives that we're involved in, we run special loan pilots, which are collaborations between different community organizations or social finance entities, fintechs, and ourselves. So we're focused on building models with that sort of approach that seek to address some sort of inequity in the financial system and to test, you know, to test this notion of like what would banking look like if all we were trying to do was solve a problem or create an opportunity. And framing a banking business model design process that way is a very different way of looking at it than saying, OK, what's our hurdle rate over the next three months or a month or whatever it extends, know the short-term of that type of approach with like really what ends up being a single metric that matters to a long-term view of it with a lot of different metrics that matter. So, I'll give you an example, one of the pilots we run, and I spoke about it with Stephanie Holmes from Cash-Flow, who's our fintech partner, over the summer at your conference, is the utility of cash flow based lending. And the way that it can form a type of personal lending is very much geared towards an individual's cash flow. And that is structured entirely on that individual's cash flow profile. So we created a loan pilot using that sort of a methodology and using their platform to help move individuals that have gotten themselves into trouble with high cost debt, like payday loans, or other types of high cost consolidation loans or private lenders, and provide them a way out of that with a low cost loan. It was only a prime plus two loan that was entirely adjudicated based on a cash flow profile. And what we're finding in that, in that pilot, is that the risk is a lot lower than we might have assumed. And I think that's true of both the Impact Lab pilots that we're running right now. That's what we're seeking to get out, and I think fintechs are a really crucial part of the equation. And in my earlier statement, I gravitated more towards the data functionality because that's really the value that one of the big pieces of value they've been able to bring to the table is helping us collect, dissect and utilize data in a bit of a different way than we would be otherwise.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:18:31] When it comes to Canadians, and I'm sorry to say that, we are one of the most indebted nations. So definitely, when it comes to this variety of loans, with some of them being very high interest, why this is actually happening? Do we have too easy access to money here, or perhaps not enough of financial education, or do we consume too much that we are spending too much? What is actually happening when you are dealing with retail clients and you are consolidating their debts? What is the biggest problem here and why we are borrowing so much?

 

Keith Taylor: [00:19:20] Well, I think it's a complicated answer, I keep coming back to one of the findings from our fair banking study that was really interesting to me. And I think it's been mirrored in the results of other studies is that there's a two part problem, really. There's a big gap between consumers self-assessment of their financial literacy and evidence of that financial literacy. So, for example, I forget the actual numbers now, but most of the respondents, it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 percent of people, thought that they were very, very good at managing their own personal finances. But half of those people never established and don't have a budget. You know, a similar proportion don't have any goals. So, the evidence that you are good at managing your own money is not really there, despite this self-perception that you know, you're excellent at it. The second part is, where financial institutions need to reflect on their role in that equation and that it's not just the availability of debt. It's the quality of advice that they're getting in that same study we saw almost half the borrowers say that the advice I get at my financial institutions is very helpful. And you combine that with the fact that most lenders don't think that, almost half of the lenders surveyed don't think, that their borrowers understand what they're buying. That's a recipe for a bit of a mess.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:21:04] Ok.

 

Keith Taylor: [00:21:07] So I don't know that answers your question, really, but I think what we need is a better assessment of our own abilities and in a better framework for giving advice through either tax or financial institutions, or both.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:21:27] Right. So we can say that we are lacking financial education, that Canadians are lacking financial education and, you know, being positive by nature they overestimate what they are capable of doing, and earning, and paying. And, I think that is actually the biggest problem, that we are lacking a reality in our financial situations.

 

Keith Taylor: [00:21:53] And it speaks to the value. If you can come up with a model, you know, of addressing financial literacy for a bunch of people that don't think they need financial literacy addressed is a really big opportunity.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:22:06] And, at the same time, that pertains also to advisors, to financial advisors, as you mentioned, who are working at the bank. That sometimes it's just for them about knowing their products, but not really seeing if those products are suitable for their customers. So, the perception of the bank needs to be a little bit changed, or the mentality of the bank. It's not just about selling the products, but also selling the products which are suitable for the customers. And that actually makes a big difference. What are the differences between lenders' and borrowers' perceptions of lending risk factors? You mentioned that you're looking, for example at Duca, at the cash flow; whereas, banks are looking from a different perspective. At the same time, borrowers also looking at themselves from a different perspective. If you were to mention one or two crucial points what each side would need to look at when evaluating the person for the loan.

 

Keith Taylor: [00:23:27] I think credit scores are still really important in our studies. They insistently come out on the lender side as the highest weighted aspects. And I think the more we learn about using that as a basis for lending, the more we realize we need other indicators. And it particularly becomes relevant, I think. And I think one of the most interesting transparency issues, in the kind of borrower-lender world, or the lending world, is the way things are priced. I think you have situations where credit scores are overly weighted in applications, but then you also have lots of situations where similar types of credit profiles are getting different deals. So, the importance of negotiation is one of those things that I think lenders appreciate that borrowers may not be based on what we're hearing. There are about half the lenders that responded, suggested, that they don't get questions on pricing a lot, or at least, just half the time, which means half the people aren't really asking. They're kind of taking what they're given. And what they're given is primarily based on a credit score and with a few other things peppered in there. That is a difference that's worth unpacking. And the importance of negotiation, especially on the borrower side, is an underappreciated difference because I think lenders are expecting a certain amount of it and they're not always getting it.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:25:17] Thank you. Thank you so much. That's actually very helpful because we can at least know what we need to focus on making sure that certain points are completed before we are applying for anything. As you mentioned, education is the key to successful banking and successful lending as well and it makes it easier for both sides. What is the current project you are running at Duca? Is it escalator loan? What is it?

 

Keith Taylor: [00:25:57] It's a yeah, it's a mix of projects. The Escalator Loan is one project and that's the pilot loan program I mentioned that we're running with CacheFlo and it's called CacheFlo, the Credit Canada Debt Solutions, which is a national non-profit that counselor, Equifax is involved, and Duca and Duca Impact Lab are involved so that that pilot is meant to be a consolidation loan option for individuals that wouldn't qualify for consolidation loans through the usual channels without being, you know, huge premiums to do so. It's structured on its adjudicative based on the cash flow profile and structured in a bit of a unique way, it's a prime plus two loans and for borrowers that meet the terms and payment obligations of the loan as they've agreed. They actually get the plus two back in a cash payment. So there's kind of an incentive both to repay the loan, but also a cushion to help them avoid to start funding a savings account and start to avoid getting into trouble with particularly payday loans. We've seen a lot of payday loan patrons in that in that pilot and it's something that I think there's a lot of, it's just amazing to see what people are paying for that type of financing, and the circumstances they get themselves into. I think it's also amazing to see how many people have multiple payday loans outstanding at once, which is technically against the rules but seems to happen anyway and there's a lot we're learning there. I think the other pilot we're running is a working capital pilot for underbanked entrepreneurs and social enterprises that are being done with our Partners Fund through and we're targeting businesses and individuals that would never we are outside of the usual criteria of funding through his usual channel and testing, you know, the risk and impact of providing this type of short term financing for businesses to help manage cash flow crunches by giving them a vehicle for selling their receivables.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:28:41] Those ones are actually fantastic projects. And what I can see, we were talking about education, but I can see, that through your projects, you are actually educating people because you are focusing on this cash flow management as well, and you are trying to do everything to help people to improve their credit score, to consolidate the debt giving, as you mentioned, prime plus two, which is really affordable for many people. That can really set them up in life as well and they can start looking at life from a different perspective as well.

 

Keith Taylor: [00:29:19] Yeah, we're taking the approach of solving the problem first and then thinking about how to scale as the second. I don't know if that's the right way to do it, but that's how we're doing it and it's been successful.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:29:35] Now, you're looking at, as I can see, that this is a long-term approach. This doesn't look like a short-term approach that, OK, let's make money as much as possible, but rather what we can do to help people, to help Canadians. And if we help Canadians, they are going to be better off, and then they are going to be our better clients. Through that, our business will excel, our business will scale and will grow. You're looking to do all through action, to build yourself through tangible actions and seeing the problems and looking for solutions.

 

Keith Taylor: [00:30:13] You said that a lot better than I did.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:30:17] Yeah.

 

Keith Taylor: [00:30:18] You can see that's exactly what we're trying to do. We'are trying to create a venue for ourselves and for like-minded partners to explore what's possible. If you take that sort of let's do it.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:30:30] I think one of your mottos at Duca is: be the best in the world but also be the best for the world.

 

Keith Taylor: [00:30:38] That's a B-Corp motto. We are also a B-Corp, and that's one of their lines. Duca's mission is to help people do more, be more, and achieve more money in their lives.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:30:50] Right.

 

Keith Taylor: [00:30:51] It's very, very much linked to the mission of the Impact Lab as well and why Doca decided to create such an environment.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:31:02] Right. But those two actually are going very well together. When you think people and by that you actually good for the world as well and Duca is the first ever credit union to receive global recognition, which is Duca's designation as a B-Corp certified organization, as you mentioned, and because of that, I'm sure that there's many fintech companies which would like to connect with you and collaborate. How they can do it? How the fintech community can connect and collaborate with Duca Impact Lab?

 

Keith Taylor: [00:31:39] I was going to ask, you can either send me a note on the Impact Lab site, there's a connect with us feature there that just come straight to me or you can find me on Linkedin and send me a note there, and if that fails, it's ktaylor@duca.com.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:32:00] For everyone who's listening, they can actually connect with Keith directly and make sure that they're giving actually a very good proposal as well because it definitely needs to be solution-oriented. It's all about fulfilling the mission.

 

Keith Taylor: [00:32:16] Yes, absolutely.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:32:18] If you were actually to give also one advice to the fintech community what would it be? We mentioned that, yes, they have to be solution oriented, but is it anything specific that you are focusing on when you are reviewing fintech companies for collaborating with you?

 

Keith Taylor: [00:32:43] Really, I think what separates the ones that we want to collaborate with from the ones we don't is the ones we collaborate with are trying to solve a problem we're solving. And they're trying to build something, you know, not necessarily build it to an exit, but build something that's a contributor to the ecosystem. They're trying to, they're taking that problem-solving first approach that the one we just went through and those are the partners that we find the most interesting, and those partnerships are the ones that work out the best. I know there are multiple ways or multiple drivers of evolving your fintech business, but, you know, if that sounds like the company that you run, then it'll be interesting to chat.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:33:43] We are coming to the end of our conversation. I would love to ask you more questions, but maybe at the same time, in the end, is it a story or some profound case or the situation or eureka moment that you said, either pertaining to you or your colleagues, that you encountered at Impact Lab and then you said, OK, this is it, this is how we do it. This is our vision and mission for the future when you actually either collaborated with someone or you came across something, that you had this very unique moment, either personal or from the business perspective.

 

Keith Taylor: [00:34:30] I think. I mean, for me, those moments are when we realize when we kind of had that Aha link to the history of Duca and recognize the need to kind of carry that on as we evolve, was one. I think the second was, you know, once we started to analyze the data that we had was that a lot of our existing members were in situations that could benefit from the loan and debt solutions that we were coming up with within the Impact Lab. So you could start to see a real tangible need for it and our membership base now that was really clearly linked to the history and why we became a thing in the beginning and I think those two pieces were really powerful. And, I'm looking forward to continuing to evolve what we're doing and to set out new partnerships, and solve problems.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:35:37] Yes. So you had this feel good moment.

 

Keith Taylor: [00:35:41] Yeah, exactly, but it was almost like it was "feel good", but it was a validation too. We kind of had this hypothesis of what we wanted to do and we started to look, OK well, who could benefit from this in our own membership base expecting to not find that many, but there were a lot of them and just, you know, got us excited in a way and in that it really demonstrates the need for what we're doing and how many people could benefit from it.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:36:13] I'm truly looking forward to seeing what will be happening in the future and how you are going to evolve, because so far what you do, I think, it's absolutely fantastic. Keith, thank you so much for being with me and sharing all this information and everything that you've said about Duca's future, but also what you are doing for the community and how you're trying to help retail and institutional clients as well, how you are working with fintech companies and trying to improve our financial systems, step by step, case by case.

 

Keith Taylor: [00:36:51] Thank you. Appreciate that. And thanks for having me.

 

Anna Niemira: [00:36:53] Thank you so much. Ladies and gentlemen, that's a wrap. On behalf of the FinTech Fridays podcast, we would like to thank Keith Taylor for joining us on this show and you for tuning in. Please feel free to share your thoughts with us. We always welcome your feedback. And listen and learn! Once again, I'm inviting you to visit NCFA website to check out some of the fantastic past episodes. We look forward to seeing you next Friday for another episode of FinTech Fridays. Have a great weekend. Thank you so much.

Outro : you've been listening to Fintech Fridays brought to you by NCFA and partners. Tune in weekly for the latest fintech Friday podcast by subscribing to this channel. The National crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada is a non-profit actively engaged with social and investment fintech sectors around the globe and provide education research industry stewardship services and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers. For more information please visit ncfacanada.org. Oh yeah.

 

End of Podcast

 

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Fintech Fridays EP43: Taking the Mortgage Process From 40 Days to Minutes

NCFA Canada | Oct 9, 2020

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EP43:  Taking the Mortgage Process From 40 Days to Minutes

GUEST: CHRIS GRIMES, Co-Founder and CEO, FundMore.ai (Linkedin)

BIO: Chris has worked in the financial industry for 20 years, gaining experience in wealth management, credit lending, and mortgage origination. He is passionate about advancing the mortgage industry through technology and forward-thinking initiatives.  Chris spent 12 years managing a local mortgage team. He is actively involved in real estate investment and other entrepreneurial ventures.

Links:

Chris Grimes, Co-founder and CEO (LinkedIn)

FundMore.ai (website| twitter)

 

About this episode:

Chris Grimes, Co-founder, and CEO of FundMore.ai chats with Tristram Waye about the mortgage market, inefficiencies, and entrepreneurship. Vetting mortgages by lending companies is a complex process involving several parties and considerable time. Whether a first-time buyer or doing a refinancing, this process can last up to 40 days. The conversation explores the mortgage process, its deficiencies, and how technology is being used to enhance this financial transaction.Fundmore.ai logo - Fintech Fridays EP43:  Taking the Mortgage Process From 40 Days to Minutes

 

 

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Fintech Friday Transcript: Chris Grimes of FundMore.ai

 

Intro: Welcome to fintech Friday's a weekly podcast brought to you by the National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada and partners. Covering all things fintech, blockchain, AI and alternative finance.

 

Tristram Waye: Welcome to the FinTech Friday podcast. My name is Tristram Waye, and I'm your host for today's session on behalf of the National Crowdfunding and FinTech Association of Canada. FinTech Friday gives us a chance to talk to interesting personalities from the FinTech space. Today, my guest is Chris Grimes from Fundmore.ai. Chris, great to have you here.

 

Chris Grimes: I appreciate that. Tristram, I'm looking forward to the conversation today.

 

Tristram Waye: Let's, let's start off with a bit about your background. What was your journey prior to Fundmore?

 

Chris Grimes: As I probably, you know, like most technology founders, I had zero coding experience, zero technology experience, and decided I would start a technology company. I actually - my background started in banking. So when I was going to school, I started as a teller at one of the big banks and then jumped ship to the green-colored ship. And we drove on the investment side of the world and then eventually into CIBC, where I sort of got my footing in the mortgage space. I was there for a few months and realized, you know, there was this cool world and mortgage brokering. I didn't know very much about mortgages. I'd only been in it for about six months. But I said, this was a cool industry, and I was going to go and dive headfirst into it. So I left the security of the bank started a mortgage team in Ottawa, back in 2006, and into 2007. And sort of a way I went, traveled through a couple of different brokerages and got to experience what it was like at different brokerage houses here in Canada. But really started to understand the mortgage process that both a lender goes through and, more importantly, with the consumers going through.

 

And just to quickly summarize, what I found was, every single time the government came out and added a new regulatory change or every single time there was a bit of a change in the market, it really impacted the borrowers' experience. And as a team, we started realizing that there had to be better ways of processing mortgages. And we began to sort of journey on the broker side of the space and looking at helping my actual mortgage team become more efficient at processing more mortgage files. And as we did that, we started realizing that this is actually stemmed, not necessarily from the broker side, or even the consumer side, but really it fell back on the lending side. The impact that they had, based on the regulatory guidelines and the underwriting guidelines that these lenders had to underwrite, it became an extremely arduous process. They have huge workforces spending hours, and hours a day, going through paperwork, analyzing applications for credit risk. And as this process goes on, it becomes more and more of a time-consuming exercise. If you look today, I think it takes roughly 40 days to fund a mortgage. Costs to the underwriter, going and funding in particular, going through the roof. There's a lot of factors that go into that. But especially if you look at, you know, in the US there, the numbers are more than $9,000 to fund a mortgage today. It's staggering. Profitability on mortgages are going down year over year. And it's becoming much more...and really, it's all driven by labor costs. And a lot of it is just simple inefficiencies because they're forced to do certain things that automation can do a really good job. And not necessarily replacing people, but really assisting people and making them more efficient. And that's really where we see Fundmore as a bit of a game-changer for these mortgage lending companies. Being able to leverage machine learning, artificial intelligence, and automation to give them a better head start when they're when they get the application in the door

 

Tristram Waye: For people that maybe have had some interaction with a mortgage broker and have been through the process, but you know, don't really get to see all the other things that go through during those 40 days. What what does that process look like? And why does it take so much time?

 

Chris Grimes: So if you're, pick a first-time homebuyer as an example. So you've decided you're going to buy your first home. You've chosen to work with a mortgage broker, or maybe even just go right to the big banks, and you walk in the door, and you say, I want to get a mortgage. Thanks. That's great. We're here to help you. We're excited. And we're gonna hand you a mortgage application. And you're going to complete the mortgage application. This might be done in person. Today, there are tools that maybe allow you to do it online, and it feels like the experience is getting better because maybe they don't ask you 20 or 30 minutes worth of questions. They might only ask you 10 or 15 minutes worth of questions to start with. But it's only a starting point. After you completed the mortgage application, they have to actually do all the due diligence to validate that mortgage application. And what that means is today, roughly 60 documents are required to actually validate that information. So you will tell your lender, I make X amount of dollars. You have to validate that with anywhere up to five or six pieces of documentation today to actually confirm that. Same with the down payment. There are anti-money laundering laws. There are counterterrorism funding laws. There are Know Your Client requirements that these lenders have to do to actually validate you as somebody that could have a mortgage. This is all before they've even thought about, you know, whether, on the credit guidelines, they can even meet their credit guidelines or even lend to you. Or you know, the affordability factors. So you can see how all this starts compiling. And you know, to look at downpayment and then meet all those checkmarks, I just talked about AML, CTF, and KYC documents. You know, you're looking at least probably another half dozen to a dozen documents to verify that information, especially today. Cost of housing is going up. And there's some housing shortages and things like that that's occurring. And, you know, people looking to get into the market today are, are faced with these challenges. That, you know, they may not have all that money sitting in their bank account, where traditionally, if you're buying a home and it was $250,000, you probably could save that 5% or 10% or 20% quite quickly. Today, it's a lot more difficult. And so you rely on parents, or you rely on other sources of funding to be able to help secure your downpayment. And all of these little things you're going to do to actually buy your home actually make it more difficult for the lender today to actually approve you because they have to collect more documents. So this is really the biggest driving time factor behind the 40 days.

 

We were talking to one of the large lenders this summer. And they were telling us they employ 50 people simply to look at documents and then go through a document checklist. They look at an appraisal. They have four pages of four letter-size pages of one line checkmarks that somebody has to go through to validate that appraisal, as an example. So you can see it's quite - that's really what's driving a lot of that the time factor. There's also the issue of Equifax, and Home Trust did a study last year, and they found that 70% of mortgage applications have some sort of fraud involved with them. I mean, it can be as simple as you misstated your income, which coming from the mortgage broker background, and any other mortgage brokers listen to this, they'll know most people will say they make $100,000 when the truth is they make, you know, $96,500. It's not a big glaring, you know, error, but it does require additional time on the back end, and even on the on the front end to validate that information. So if there was ways to go about this, you know, i.e., looking at some of the technology solutions in the industry today, Flinx in Canada, Stripe in the US. Now they have these tools where you can scrape bank account data, and it has some analytics built-in, where it can help sort of validate this information at source. Rather than having to go through the phase of first-time homebuyer, gives you an application with a number. Lender asked for a bunch of documentation. Someone's manually checking it. So a simple solution like that would save quite a bit of time in the process. Once you've gone through the app, Oh, go ahead.

 

Tristram Waye: No, no, go ahead.

 

Chris Grimes: I was gonna say what once you've gone through that documentation process, the application process, you're now in a bit of a waiting period. And this is a period where the lender is going to make a final credit decision on you. So you know, they've taken into account your credit. They've taken into your income your down payment sources. And now they're going to take a bet on you that you are a good risk or you're not a good risk. And a lot of this is based on you know, your, your credit profile. And then that'll take -  could take up to two or three days, depending on how busy the lenders are. And you'll get an approval. Assuming you get an approval, you're really you're in a position to maybe waive that condition or go out and find that property if you hadn't found one already. And then we have another phase where now the lender has to validate the property. So the first day is all about you. The next phase is about the property and some of this if it's insured the mortgage insurance default insurance company like CMHC, or Genworth, or Canada Guarantee. They have some automated tools in their systems to help with that. But sometimes it becomes another manual process, especially if the property is slightly unique. So this can now add two or three or four or five days in a process when they're validating the property. And making sure that, you know, if things go sideways, they have the ability to recoup their costs. After that phase is done, we know we know typically get lawyers involved. They're doing title searches, and they're looking for anything else that might be might come up as a potential risk. And that could take several days. And then, the lender validates that information. It keeps going back and forth with the different parties that are involved. And eventually, 40 days go by and you can - the lenders done all their processes, and they're ready to find your mortgage.

 

Tristram Waye: So basically, there's, you know, there are at least five or six different groups by the sounds of it involved in this process. And they all do completely different things. And there's a ton of paperwork that needs to be moved around. Sounds like a pain in the butt.

 

Chris Grimes: That's how I would describe it today, for sure. I mean, it was a pain in the butt whenever it was 12 years ago when I bought my first property. But, going through it now, even knowing everything I know about this industry, it's still a pain.

 

Tristram Waye: And this is a similar process for people that are doing refinancings and stuff like that, is that right?

 

Chris Grimes: It is absolutely. Sometimes it can be even more challenging with those the B20 guidelines that came out in 2018 and 2016, restricting how lenders can ensure refinances is really put a damper or really restricted, you know, some lenders and what they can actually offer you. So in some ways, it's can almost be worse because you have a smaller lending pool that was willing to do that. And now you're at the mercy of several lenders instead of several hundred lenders.

 

Tristram Waye: And what is the difference between, let's say, a bank approach to this versus a versus a private lender? What is like, Is there some crossover there? Are they totally different in terms of their approach to the mortgage market?

 

Chris Grimes: Yeah, I often say this. I do a lot of training with our agents on our, in our team. And this question comes up a lot. And the best way I always think to look at this is there's you know if you look at the sort of the key driving factors of our mortgage approval today, it's credit and your credit history. You're basically what your credit report says. Then you have the affordability factor. Can you actually afford to live in that property or, or at least afford the mortgage? And then the third thing being the property. And if you look at the way, you know, schedule one banks, the large TDs, the Scotias, the RBC's, etc., would underwrite something like that, it's really credit first, affordability second, property third. They're really betting on the covenant on the applicants to being a good suitor, assuming it meets their criteria. On the private lending side, it's flipped. It goes property number one, affordability number two, and credit number three. And the reason for that is typically they have a lower loan to value and what they're willing to how much money they're willing to put up. And then two,  they want to make sure that their asset is - can be flipped back on the street if something goes wrong with a mortgage. They don't want to be holding a property that needs a lot of work. They don't want to be holding unique properties or properties out in rural areas. And most private lenders, you'll see, will have very defined geographic areas, but not so much credit guidelines. Where a lender will not care so much about geography but really care talking about the schedule one banks will really care about the applicant. So the credit, the income, things like that.

 

Tristram Waye: Okay, and so let's talk about Fundmore. You know, how - you were saying a little bit about how it got started, but, you know, where did the idea evolve from? And how does it help address some of the problems in this area?

 

Chris Grimes: So, Fundmore, I started saying before, really came about from this idea that I had a mortgage team of, we had 15 agents at the time, and how could we make them more efficient? We basically - I mean, there are certainly exceptions to this rule, and the top brokers in Canada are going to exceed what I'm about to say. But, you know, the average broker that we found over the last seven or eight years of running mortgage teams are really capped at about four files, maybe five files a month, personally. This is without extra team support and things like that. And, you know, some certainly could do a lot more. Some were doing a lot less. But it was sort of the average number is about four or five a month. And so we wanted to see what would it take to make them more efficient. What can we do to turn the needle from four or five to 10, 12, or 20, or 50 files at any given time? And so we started scouring the world. I started looking in Canada realized that we were really behind the ball - is what I actually realized, eventually. There wasn't a lot of great solutions to make them more efficient. Certainly, there are newer loan origination systems out there. And there are some good ones, and people do, companies do some great things around that. But it wasn't changing anything. It was just making the wheel shinier.

 

And, and then, when I started looking at the US and Australia, in the UK, I started realizing that they were much further ahead on simple things that made a mortgage agent's life easier. And they started negotiating with them and saying, Hey, I know you don't offer product in Canada. What would it take to bring a product to Canada? And it started with a document management system. And slowly rolled out, and we ended up bringing in about four or five different platforms. And so what I was trying to do was make my team more efficient. What I ended up doing was giving them five platforms, and nobody was using them because there were too many. So we had all these tools, which were meant to save time and no way of actually making it efficient. And that's how Fundmore was born, to be honest with you. We brought in some - we hired a couple of Co-Op students and brought in someone on the technology side and said, you know, here's our - here's what I want. I have all these platforms. I need to aggregate it into one platform so that somebody can go in access all these data points to make their job easier. And so you know, parts of that were validating income. Parts of this were validating property details. Part of this was validating down payment information.  All these things we talked about earlier about what -  somebody through a mortgage process has to go through. And so that's what we did, we started building on this platform.

 

We realized relatively shortly into the process, I guess that what we were building probably had way more value in the lending space. Particularly in the private and alternative lending spaces. And this is going to be companies like credit unions, mortgage investment corporations, private lending, and private lenders. A lot of real estate lawyers represent a lot of private lenders. Things like that, where their job was to actually underwrite these files, to be able to provide them a solution that could do many of these tasks for them. And in seconds, rather than hours or minutes and saving them hiring additional staff and things like that. And so we went out to the market, and we said, Hey, we had this idea, we've built half of it. What is it in there that you would need to actually make this a viable product for you? And so we did a lot of research, spoke to dozens of lenders, of all different sizes. And took their feedback and then built out Fundmore. What happened through that journey, though, is that we realized it's great for the small private lending institutions, you know, companies that were maybe running under $200 million in assets under management. But once you sort of exceeded that number, and then you got into the larger credit unions and you got into big the large mortgage finance companies was that they had these legacy-based systems that - I will be shocked in our lifetime, if they ever actually can replace them, they've invested too much time, they're very fragmented. But that didn't mean that our solution couldn't be available to them. They just had to be exposed in a different way. So through conversations with them, we've now launched our fund or relaunching our Fundmore Score, which has three key components to it. One is it, it triages, and it triages based on the idea that every application that comes in the door, you know, has a lender will have a set of credit guidelines. But credit guidelines, as I said, are really based on credit, first, income second, or property third, or maybe flipped, depending if it's a private investor or a large company. And were there other opportunities to make lending decisions outside of that scope. So bringing in additional data. Better understanding that applicant to then give them an opportunity to potentially approve files that may not have even been in their scope. And then on the flip side is files that will never - should never have come into that lender they don't have to spend time actually underwriting. So that's why we see this sort of triage function of our Fundmore Score. A second component is around the idea of risk and fraud identification. So we know we'll highlight, you know if we think there are some issues with the application, or we think there are issues with the documents we're gathering, we can flag that, and, you know, provide some analytics around the risk metric, and of that applicant. And then the third part is understanding the funding ratio. And this is a big challenge. One of the reasons why the cost of underfunding mortgages and underwriting mortgages have gone up so much is because, you know, on top of all the due diligence work, a lot of files just don't fund. I mean, some of the biggest lenders in Canada have funny ratios at 65%. And what that means is, when they get a mortgage application in the door, they get the documents, that file doesn't actually get closed, even if it meets their lending criteria. So everything else they've sent out a commitment, they're happy to fund the mortgage, the client doesn't actually go there. They may go off to another lender. Maybe they just don't even, maybe they decide they don't want to buy a home, or they decide they don't want to refinance the property anymore. But the lender is completely blind to that decision making. And what we're really looking at right now is through the data, we have to be able to better understand that score for that idea for them and provide that in our Fundmore Score. Which ultimately, again, helps drive profitability because one, they can work on files that are going to absolutely fund and maybe the ones that were at a much lower funding ratio or funding score opportunity, they may just pass. But I actually believe that the biggest value there is that it allows them to change the conversation, maybe change the narrative with a potential applicant, and have a conversation around, you know, what is it going to take for us to close this, this file with you. As opposed to letting them walk out the door and go to another lender or go to another broker or go to another or change their mind and altogether.

 

Tristram Waye: Is a part of that just like the amount of time that it takes to get this stuff done?

 

Chris Grimes: It is absolutely timing. Some of it is, you know, other factors. Sometimes it's as simple as another lender offering a promotion. But a lot of this, you know that the lender doesn't have a better -  have a full picture of that applicant, outside of what comes in the application and the documents. They can't see that. And so we're looking at data points now that can be able to start predicting some of these metrics,

 

Tristram Waye: And you were mentioning that there were some other elements that the system can help identify that by, you know, clarify or, you know, help approve a mortgage that may not otherwise have been approved. Can you talk a little bit about those?

 

Chris Grimes: Yeah, I mean, some of that falls in the secret sauce. But I mean, absolutely. We're just looking at,

 

Tristram Waye: You don't want to give anything away.

 

Chris Grimes: No, no, but we're certainly looking at it - we now have access to more data points on when mortgage applications - and part of it. Absolutely. So here's how I have been sort of talking about Fundmore from another perspective. And maybe this answers this question. So if we look at Europe, and you look at the UK, and you look at their advancements in open banking. You look at the US in the way they're interpreting open banking. And you look at Canada, how we've just put a stick in the mud and said, Well, I don't really know what to do. I don't know if we want to do it - I think we should, it's probably great - we're not really sure - and we're gonna maybe leave it up to the Big Five banks - but I don't think so we should let the government handle it. This is sort of where the discussions have been, even though the government has a mandate to really open up the discussions around open banking in Canada. And really, what we've designed with our platform, is an open banking type model where, you know, we, because we've aggregated so many different data sets, a lot of it is through consumer consent. So it's not - we don't, we don't have access to this information, just by you know, flipping a switch. We have to get that consent from the consumer. But it gives the control and the power to the consumer to, you know, to provide the information that they want to provide for us to help them make a better, almost a better proposal to the lender. So the lender can see a much bigger scope and a much bigger picture potentially, of that lender of that applicant, sorry, a direct, you know, direct with the application opposed to the traditional method, which is, you know, application goes in, lender asked for the documents validates the application and we go back and forth for several weeks. So allowing the consumer to control the data and putting forward as much data points as they believe they want to. I mean, obviously, we're interpreting that within our own algorithms, but it gives that, it does give them a bit more power in the application process. And gives the lender a bigger picture of the applicant in themselves if that makes sense.

 

Tristram Waye: Yeah. And so in terms of your target market, are you focused primarily on Canada now and with, you know, North America, Europe as a potential expansion point, or what are your thoughts there?

 

Chris Grimes: Right now, we're really focused on Canada, and, in delivering this, getting this product out to - we have a goal of hopefully, every, almost every mortgage application or every mortgage application in Canada will have a Fundmore Score attached to it with the ability for the lenders to better understand and take a deeper dive through our data by us revealing it. That actually means our 2021 goal is to enter the US market with the scoring system and our key platforms. And we also have, as I said, because of the relationships we've built early on with these third party companies, in Europe, Australia. We're looking at delivering some of rather core products to their markets through those through some channel partners there.

 

Tristram Waye: That's great. Now, tell me a little bit about the, you know, the evolving nature of the mortgage market as a result of, you know, 2020 and all the things that have been going on there? How is that market changing? And, and how can you know, how is Fundmore helping in this environment?

 

Chris Grimes: So, I think one of the biggest hurdles, early on in 2020, with a pandemic, was the idea of how are lenders going to process applications in a remote environment? Most lenders send their staff home, March, whatever it was, March 18, like everyone else, and, you know, there was quite a bit of a backlog early on because it was still a very manual process. And Fundmore really provides a - can provide a key - an important tool to expedite that process, especially in this remote environment. You know, being able to provide that sort of instant picture. Not only if you look at underwriting, it's typically a point in time, but not only looking at that point in time, which, you know, maybe March 18, wasn't so great, but also looking, you know, forward in that application. So, you know, being with the way we, we make our predictions with our AI, that we can take that application, and then look forward in the future. So the lender not only gets there sort of static point in time picture, but they also get a sense of where the file and where that applicant would be headed. In times like this doesn't make it, it does make it challenging. So that was sort of the first, the first thing they were, you know, we would have provided probably a much easier transition from many lenders if they were using our technology at the time. And but also, you know, with the, with this, and I think the continuation of remote working and, you know, wanting to provide their clients with a better experience, a faster experience, you know, we're in this reality, in this digital age now, where, you know, it's not good enough anymore to stick a mobile app up on your website and say, Well, you know, we have an application. You can fill it out online, or you can go on our website and fill out an application because it doesn't actually help the client. Sure it's a different way of ingesting information. But for me, you know, this is information that probably should have been done in 2000, not 2020. And so, you know, how would you so that the next version of this is how do you turn that application into an instant approval? So if you look at the US, there are companies like Figure.co m and Better. com and they're providing solutions, blending solutions to their clients, almost instantly. And they're doing that by using analytics. They're doing that by understanding their - you know, by understanding as much as they can from their applicant on application. Not on the underwriting process. Now, if you look at this, and you say - if you look at the insurance industry about ten years ago, and you started getting these online applications, and you'd fill them out, and, you know, go to an underwriting desk, and underwriting would still underwrite it, and it would be approved. Today, and companies like standards and things like this that are coming out in the marketplace. And they're underwritten on application. And they're done mostly using AI, some sort of machine learning component in the background. You know, so this is where I think the mortgage industry is right now that, you know, we are where the insurance industry was ten years ago. You know, we're trying to provide better solutions. But it's not actually changing the story, where I believe in 10 years from now, you know, what we're trying to provide as a solution today will be the norm across the board. That if you expect to get a mortgage, you should have a mortgage. It shouldn't take 40 days. It shouldn't take a week, frankly. It should be the same day. There's a lot that goes into it. Absolutely. And it's one of the, if you look at lending as a whole SME lending, credit card lending, a lot of this stuff is gone the analytics route and offer instant approvals. Again, a lot is driven by credit. The mortgage application process, short of maybe commercial lending, or large development lending, is probably the most complex. And there's a lot more that goes into it, which is why it's not here today. But you know, it's coming in, you know, with what we're doing today, we can already turn a mortgage application in what would have been, you know, maybe a full week of work, or several hours of work into several minutes of work. And so we're not that far away from being able to actually tell you, as a consumer as an applicant for a mortgage, you have your mortgage approved. You can have the money in your account within two or three business days.

 

Tristram Waye: A whole lot of people with a lot of fingernail left. Right?

 

Chris Grimes: Exactly. Exactly. It's a great analogy.

 

Tristram Waye: Now, tell me. You know, I'd like to hear more about your entrepreneurial journey, you know, what, what does that been like as a founder? I mean, you're a subject matter expert. But what is it been like developing a company, exploring an idea? You know, how's that gone?

 

Chris Grimes: It's been - I'd be lying if I said it wasn't challenging at times, for sure. You know, several late nights, and, you know, my partner sitting there, and she's, you know, basically saying, what the heck are you doing?

 

You know, but coming from a comment, you said, I mean, I've understood the mortgage space, have been in for a long time. I've had some banking experience, but I didn't have any technology experience. And, and I was lucky, early on. I didn't go through my full history and background, but through another company I was involved with, I had met my one of my co-founders. And his background was in technology. He launched and successfully exited multiple businesses, some through IPO t through private sale, things like that. And mostly in the health tech and security tech space. And he also ran a technology company, which was useful. And so we started talking about the mortgage industry, and you know, and his personal experiences and some of my personal experiences, like I said, just getting a mortgage today is not easy, even for people that understand it. And, you know, we were just basically chatting about the difficulties in the space. And he started to get more and more interested in it. And he's done a lot of real estate investment and things like that, as well. So he did understand it from that perspective. But he did give me that opportunity to just sort of pitch in the idea of, you know, what if things were like this? And he thought it was kind of an interesting idea, and we went out and started building something. Spent about, I think we threw maybe five or $10,000 at something, and three months, and we realized, well, that was fun, but that's not going to go anywhere. And but, you know, we're both sort of invested at this point in this idea of what fun work could be eventually. And we've probably pivoted at least a half dozen times in the 18 months we've been in existence. And a lot of that has to do with you know, first trying to develop products for the broker side. Realizing that the challenges were on the lender side, and then pivoting into that space, as our product evolved. And then realizing, well, this is great, we built out a platform that only a select group of lenders can even use, because, you know, their legacy systems are so entrenched in their organizations that they can't even replace what they have. And then we have a pivot again to so that they can ingest our systems or analytics into their platforms. So that is sort of been one of the things I realized when you start a technology company that what you believe you have at the beginning is probably nowhere near what you're going to have when, you know, you're six months, 12 months, 18 months into your journey. The second challenge we've obviously, or we've had is delivering, you know, the sort of technology on time. It's, uh, it's interesting, because, you know, as much as I've said, it takes a long time to get a mortgage, I'm pretty - I can tell someone pretty early on in the application phase, okay, I need this much time to get you approved. I have that just from being in it for so long when I look at an application, okay, I need a week. I need two weeks. This is extra complicated. I mean, three months, four,  now, maybe I do 24 hours. But on the technology side, I've learned that if you - if someone tells you it's a month, it actually means three. If someone tells me it's three, it might mean six.

 

Tristram Waye: Right.

 

Chris Grimes: But, you know, on the other side, though, it's been an amazing sort of experience. You know, we've got to work with already a lot of different organizations. We were part of the invest Ottawa pre-accelerator program that turned into a pitch contest win, which turned into being part of their accelerator program for a while. And most recently, because of the AI work we're starting to do on a really dive into, I should say, we were just accepted into Creative Destruction Labs, which is one of the largest AI accelerator programs in Canada. And now they're actually offering their program to universities across the world. They have launched one in Paris, UK, three, I think, in the US and, and three or four in Canada now. So

 

Tristram Waye: It's a tremendous organization. The people that they collect for that, it's incredible—dream Team.

 

Chris Grimes: Yeah. Yeah. We were quite excited about that news. We just found out actually last Friday. So it's been it was exciting kind of weekend.

 

Tristram Waye: Congratulations. That's Great.

 

Chris Grimes: Thank you. Yeah. So we're excited to get started with that. And it starts in a couple weeks. And yeah, we've had, we've had lots of, we said, there's been a lot of -  Going through this entrepreneurial journey, I think that my biggest takeaway on top of the learning experiences about how technology companies actually work was, you know, the opportunity to meet and work with so many different people and different mentors and advisors and leading in different spaces. So it's been quite a journey so far.

 

Tristram Waye: Now what

 

Chris Grimes: Fraction of the way there.

 

Tristram Waye: Okay, and so what are your plans for the future?

 

Chris Grimes: So we're going to go into this program, and we're about to partner with the University on some on another research project around AI. And then really, for us, it's driving our product into more lenders' hands, to be able to provide our solution to make their processes easier and make their lives simpler, but ultimately impacting the end consumer, which is the person getting the mortgage. We don't want it to take 40 days. We want - if somebody wants to get a mortgage, we want them to be able to have that entire, as you said, nailbiting, stress, anxiety, wiped away because they know that they have an approval. They're sitting there driving around on a Sunday afternoon; they're looking at an open house sign. They pull out their phone, and their phone says, oh, I can afford that. I could fund this mortgage tomorrow if I decided I like that house, and I want to sign a purchase offer. That you know, that's sort of the ultimate vision of how we want to be able to provide our tools to lending platforms to lending companies to loan origination systems across North America, and then we'll see what the next phase is.

 

Tristram Waye: Terrific. Now, if anybody wants to get ahold of you or connect, where can they do that, Chris?

 

Chris Grimes: Yeah, I mean, you can always find me on LinkedIn. I think it's Chris M. Grimes. But our websites Fundmore.ai. And my email is Chris at Fundmore.ai. So anytime you want to reach me feel free. I'm out there. And can always call me too.

 

Tristram Waye: Fantastic. Well, Chris, it's been great to chat with you. Very informative to get, you know, for people that didn't have a full understanding of how the mortgage market works and its complexity. That was very informative. Thank you very much for taking the time.

 

Chris Grimes: Again, I appreciate your time, Tristram, and it was awesome speaking with you. And as you said, if anyone has any questions about the mortgage industry or wants to ask questions about what we're doing, I'm always open to have a discussion. So thanks. Thanks for your time.

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NCFA Newsletter subscribe600 - Fintech Fridays EP43:  Taking the Mortgage Process From 40 Days to Minutes