Vivek and Mike started the business in 2016 with the goal of helping people reach their financial goals and improve their financial well-being. Six years later, our mission is still the same, and we are almost ready to have the effect we've always wanted on hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people.
Mike's background is in academia, and he has a PhD from Cambridge in Computational Astrophysics. He wrote his dissertation about how to model black holes. He's the kind of person who wins hackathons and writes code in his free time.
Vivek has a background in finance. He went to university to study maths and philosophy and then worked as a derivatives trader for more than 12 years. In his last year of work, Vivek helped out with the retail channels at the bank where he worked. This gave him direct experience with the world of financial advice. Vivek shadowed advisers and saw for himself the positive impact a financial plan can have.
When customers walked into the room, they were worried and confused, but when they left, they felt just the opposite. There aren't many jobs where you get to know people's hopes and dreams as an adviser does. They would explain their current financial situation, and the adviser would figure out what products they needed to open, how much money they needed to put into them, and why. Then, and this is important, the advisers would get them to act on the plan and put it into action.
The process was almost entirely done by hand. Advisers had to gather the information, crunch the numbers, and then show the clients what to do. This is why so few people could get financial advice: it took hours of an adviser's time, which most people couldn't afford.
Vivek and Mike wanted to automate as much of this process as possible and open up access to advice so that most people could use it instead of just a select few. In other words, they were trying to close "The Advice Gap."
In the last 6 years, we've built up the technology, gotten authorised by the FCA on a fully automated basis, and launched an advice app. Since 2019, we have given plans to more than 10,000 families and made more than 250,000 recommendations. The main things we've helped our customers do are buy their first home and start investing. However, many of them have also used our advice to build up an emergency fund and figure out what they need for protection and retirement.
Now is a very exciting time for us because we are starting to licence our technology to other financial institutions and have taken the first step toward making our product available all over the world. We just started working with one of the biggest banks in Ireland, which has 1.6 million customers, to power their financial advice service. Several companies in the United Kingdom are also interested in licensing our technology.