Australian fintech innovators operate on the radical notion that financial planning is not the sole domain of the wealthy or those soon to retire.
According to Harry Chemay, CEO of new Melbourne based financial services startup Clover.com.au, fewer than 30 per cent of Australians seek and receive professional financial advice.
“For many people, the barriers to obtaining advice include issues of trust, complexity, and cost” he explains.
“Good advice should not be available only to those of significant means at or nearing retirement. Good advice can have its greatest impact earlier in life, so an important aspect of Clover’s mission is to provide advice and assistance to Australians in their twenties and thirties, certainly well before they approach retirement,” he said.
One of a new breed of online financial advice and investment management platforms known as ‘robo-advisors’, Clover enables Australians to receive sound financial advice without the need to ever engage a human financial adviser.
Creating a new approach to financial services has been an all-consuming endeavour for the company’s founders and team.
“It’s an industry that, despite being the largest sectoral employer in Australia, has been slow to improve the client’s experience. While technology has made steady progress in improving the business of providing financial advice, from the consumer’s perspective things are not greatly different from when I entered financial planning some 19 years ago,” explains Chemay.
“Clover aims to change that. It has been built from the ground-up to focus very much on helping clients achieve their specific financial goals. A large part of the frustration I experienced as a Financial Planner was that advice processes often focussed more energy on specific financial products than client financial outcomes.
“We want to put the emphasis back on ‘starting with the end in mind’, with that end being the client’s desired financial outcomes.”
Clover commenced operations in early 2015 at the York Butter Factory – a co-working space in the heart of Melbourne that has become a destination point for some of Australia’s most innovative start-ups in the FinTech sector.
Chemay credits the space for allowing the company’s founders to connect with, share ideas and co-operate with a host of passionate entrepreneurs who call the York Butter Factory home.
“Innovation hubs like York Butter Factory are a critical factor in sparking ideas into action, and we simply could not have grown to the size we currently are without its support. It was a somewhat bitter-sweet day a few weeks ago when we bade farewell and moved into our new offices, having grown too large to remain there.”
He describes Victoria as being a “vibrant FinTech ecosystem” that encourages other Victorian-based FinTech startups “seize the day”.
“Melbourne is home to two of the largest banks in the nation, it has a dominant share of asset owners, from the Future Fund through to key superannuation funds, and it has a world-class tertiary sector producing talented graduates across both the finance and information technology disciplines.
“The worlds of finance and technology are melding together at a rate never before seen, and if you are going to make a difference in this new world, now is the time,” he said.