The journey of Fintuple began about 18 months ago. This time has taught us a lot about the business of WealthTech, has exposed us to various different opportunities and given us a lot to be excited for in the times to come.
When we decided to set up Fintuple 1.5 years ago, we had to sit on the drawing board and answer some pertinent questions: What kind of business did we want to build? What is the kind of business that is actually scalable? More importantly, where do the pain points lie?
One thing we were very clear about was that every investor needed a customised approach towards managing their wealth, tuned to their risks, aided by technology, but managed by an advisor. Now the last point was always a point of debate, why introduce a layer in between, does it not go against the grain of distribution? While the question was fair at its essence, it brought us to the path of building an Operating System around which the capital markets in India would run.
Moreover, taking a look at what was happening around us, showed that capital was flowing into B2C businesses in the WealthTech space – where the number of customers on a platform became synonymous with the ‘fundability’ of a startup. However, that felt very counterintuitive to us. We had to ask ourselves a very fundamental question – what is the biggest pain point for customers whilst managing their wealth? As the answer, two big roadblocks came to light
- Rudimentary access to good quality products. Something which was solvable through technology and customisation.
- Access to good quality advisors. Keeping with the investor’s psychology, it is important that their wealth is managed by trusted advisors.
Both of these challenges clearly indicated that a good quality WealthTech platform had to be built around a B2B2C framework – at least, that’s what made sense to us. Once we had clarity around this, we knew that the building blocks of our business had to be built around data. In India, the Financial Markets have been structured around data which has been siloed. We wanted to ensure that our foundation was built around clean data, especially in the alternates industry, where we had to build from scratch.
This exercise took us more than a year to establish, clean up, standardise and automate. Today, our platform has scaled to an extent where we can onboard a fund on to our platform within hours, as compared to 8 months back when the same activity took close to 6 days to complete.
The next layer of products that we built, was targeted towards Asset Management Companies (AMCs), for their integrated marketing and sales functions and digitization of their entire middle office functionality. This product layer received a fillip during COVID-19 when most AMCs have come to the realization that it’s not a question of if the adoption to technology happens, but of, when it happens.
A lot of the work we did pre-March 2020, while interesting, repeatedly forced us to answer the question – ‘the products you are building, are ‘a good to have’, but not ‘a must-have’ – I can run my business on excel, why should I switch?’
However, the Covid-19 induced lockdown certainly, changed this mindset and gave us a significant opportunity to fast track a part of the business that we had planned for later in the year. Thus, setting the wheels in motion for the launch of our next product, a digital onboarding solution for investors – tailormade to simplify and expedite the end-to-end investment lifecycle for alternates in India; the current process behind this being completely manual and ‘paper-based’. The products we build around this will ensure that all the participants of the Capital Market ecosystem in India will be driven through our platform, while we continue to democratise access through financial advisors and wealth managers across the country. As a WealthTech company, this is an exciting phase to be in and it’s even more exhilarating to realise that we are only getting started.
In India, WealthTech businesses have predominantly been driven around a B2C business model, where the platform enables investment access to the end investor. However, we have chosen to consciously avoid going down that route. We have often been asked why our’s is not a B2C business. Here is the data pointing to the Capital Market evolution in the US and why we are not keen on building the new age WealthTech B2C businesses.
The exhibit below shows the ownership of US equities by age group. While the new-age trend is to build ‘Millenial based’ Robo advisor platforms, note that ~75% of the Assets Under Management (AUM) of the equity market in the US is controlled by people above the age of 55.
It is our view that a successful WealthTech business has to have a share of the AUM of the Capital Markets, rather than the number of customers that make up the ecosystem. This is one of the strong reasons we choose to build out our business as a B2B2C platform.