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  1. Day 2 at InVest West kicked off with Mimi Chan discussing her new gifting platform - Littlefund. Mimi who is currently heavily pregnant founded Littlefund in 2018. The platform provides a new way of saving for millennials, which is designed to help them save for their children, the so called Generation Alpha and their future. Littlefund is a platform which allows family (via the family account) and friends (via the gifter account) to start saving for multiple goals in their GenA childrens' future. Mimi had the concept for Littlefund after having her first child and being racked with guilt at the number of unused gifts that she received when her daughter was born. Littlefund is designed so that close family and indeed friends, god parents and extended relatives are able to log in to the platform and make a monetary contribution to child’s savings account rather than giving a more traditional tangible, and often unwanted, gifts. There is no app, which they say is because its so simple an app isn’t needed! Just log in the website and make bank transfer to nominated gift account. I don’t really buy that argument so hopefully an app will arrive sooner rather than later. This isn’t a one-off activity. Think birthdays, christenings and graduations. There will be no more receiving socks at Christmas or a cheque/cash posted in a card (who uses cheques and who even posts cards these days?) Recent research in the US stated that 69% of Americans biggest financial worry is not being able to provide a comfortable upbringing for their family. Existing 529 plans which are available in the US are primarily used to save for college education with tax advantages. Unlike 529’s with a Littlefund account, there is no tax advantage, but you do have more control of your savings. You are able to contribute as much or as little as you like, make fund withdrawals at any point, and will not incur any penalties or have to conform to differing interstate regulations. The key marketing strategy is to leverage social media with a heavy focus on the use of Instagram. But they have also gone back to good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. New parents like to talk! To encourage further growth, they are aiming to get 10,000 users by the end of the year by offering referral awards for new investors. Although a very simple concept, I really liked the idea of Littlefund and could see how something similar could work well in other markets market.
  2. Positioned as the elephant in the room at Invest West, Ric Edelman (Edelman Financial Services) and John Bunch (Financial Engines) discussing how they have joined forces to build the USA’s largest RIA advice service. Self-proclaimed as the first of the robo solutions in the market, the proposition was built to help shift workplace 401K pensions from DB to DC plans and to help with fund selection and rebalancing. 330 registered financial advisers are currently serving more than 10million clients with an impressive 36 billion held in assets. With some advisers serving up to 500 clients each (which includes a diverse mix of low investors and millionaire clients) they have had 150,000 potential new clients reach out to them for help this year. The financial planning element is based on automated “robo” algorithms which are not standardised or off the shelf like some others. They currently have 883,000 personalised portfolio algorithms available which have been developed over the last 20 years. Their view is that they are still a few years off being able to deliver a fully automated holistic advice service. However, from what we are seeing currently being developed in the UK market, we may disagree. Ric and John have a great ethos which states that everybody deserves financial help. Although they typically have a $5,000 entry AUM per household, they will take clients who have less to invest and will often work on a pro-bono basis. They state that these may not be the ideal or best client today - but might be in future. What a refreshing approach to offering affordable financial planning to all. All clients are treated the same regardless of the amount of money they have to invest. There is a flat fee of $800 for the financial planning, and all clients go through the same financial planning process. They do not run TV adverts or structured marketing plans. They do have financial planning education though, which they offer through all channels - which is free to all consumers. Ric has just published a children’s book to address financial literacy aimed at 4-8yr olds (The Squirrel Manifesto, which is available on Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Squirrel-Manifesto-Ric-Edelman/dp/1534441662/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1544153861&sr=8-1&keywords=the+squirrel+manifesto
  3. Day one at InVest West, Bradley Leimer the Co-Founder of Unconventional Ventures talks to MoneyLion founder Dee Choubey. Founded in 2013 MoneyLion is a financial services app designed to help consumers better manage their money. Their objective is to better understand personal finance using advanced technology in order to help cater to the 90 million Americans who struggle with their finances. Dee Choubey, CEO describes themselves as a one-stop shop for financial needs. To date, they have on-boarded 3.5 million clients, which they’d like to grow to 50 million in the coming years, and carried out over 2 million financial transactions. Some of the key features of the service are: A consumer checking account, with no opening or ongoing fees TransUnion credit score and monitoring service A registered investment advisor and zero fee managed investing An authorised credit lender in 50 US states and the proposition allows consumers access to low-interest rate lending against their own acquired assets Their research shows that the typical American has a small amount of left-over cash nine months of the year, and overspends for three – typically around this time of year. This is where the lending comes in to play as customers can borrow up to $500 at a typical rate of 5.99% in times of financial hardship. MoneyLion have Financial Wellness at the heart of the proposition, which measures four areas in order to understand a client’s financial stress and provides them with a heart rating score. They have also partnered with Fitbit, and for every 15,000 steps walked a client gets $1 invested into their investment account. The app is available on two pricing models. The first is free of charge and the second is $29 a month. The latter includes $1 daily cash back for logging into the app. By building financial education, consumers are being rewarded and in essence not paying for the service. By comparison the average American pays $90 a month for banking services. The Digital Wealth Insights team will be speaking to MoneyLion in due course in order to explore the proposition further. More analysis will follow shortly.