Am I saving enough money? Is it growing fast enough? Am I investing in a financial product that is right for ME or right for my agent?
Some of the questions that we all should ask ourselves, but rarely do. Partly because its human tendency to not dive deep into matters which can give us sleepless nights and partly because there is no reliable place where we can get these answers, except calling the very busy CA in the family who is willing to help but does not have the time.
Managing Personal Finance: The exact pain area that Ankur Kapur, Sunaina Shenoy and Abhik Prasad decided to address when they launched FIN10 – India’s first email course on Personal Finance.
[ Special FREE course offer for LifeBeyondNumbers readers at the end of this post. Don’t miss. ]
In an exclusive conversation with LifeBeyondNumbers, Abhik shares with us their journey and how it is keeping them excited.
The FIN10 Team
Coming from diverse industry backgrounds, the three of us set out to create a unique product in FIN10. Ankur is a Certifed Financial Analyst (CFA) and has worked in the Finance industry prior to starting out on his own in the Financial Education and Wealth Management space. Prior to this he has worked at McKinsey, Ameriprise and Ernst & Young.
I worked very briefly in advertising before spending a considerable amount of time in the IT Industry; which I then quit to start a Digital Advertising Agency in Gurgaon, 3 years ago. Sunaina worked with various startups in the environmental and recycling space before starting out on her own.
Sunaina had initially thought of the idea and was running it under the brandname Greyngreen. She was looking for an advertising agency when we met to explore possiblities. Ankur used to co work at my office when he was starting up. The dots connected and after a couple of discussions, the three of us decided to partner together with each handling separate domains of Finance expertise (Ankur), Technology and Marketing (myself) and Sales and Business Development (Sunaina).
Inception Of Finqa And Fin10
Sunaina had a medical emergency which left her bed ridden for sometime. She didn’t have any insurance at that point of time and that led to some introspection and got her thinking – “How do I manage my Finances better ?”She started doing some research; and the more she researched, the more she realized that there was a very high level of financial ignorance in our society. That was the starting point of Finqa – a company to promote financial literacy and awareness and help people with Financial Planning.
After conducting numerous workshops at various corporates on Financial Planning, we realised that most people were not familiar with the basics and had a ton of questions on ‘why, what and how’ of financial planning. Since they didn’t understand everything in a 2-hour workshop, they were hesitant to signup for a full fledged Financial Plan. It was also difficult to scale up the number of corporate workshops that could be done.
To tackle this issue, we decided to launch an online course called Fin10 – a 3-month course which is delivered via email with daily lessons on a single topic – so that folks can learn something new everyday at their own convenience instead of being overwhelmed in one day, by spending just 10 minutes a day.
The cost of the course is equal to almost Rs 10 per day and hence the name Fin10.
What Sets Fin10 Apart In A Sea Of Financial Advisory Companies?
Yes, there are quite a few ‘advisory’ companies but most of them are distribution agents in the guise of an advisor. There is no financial services firm that is interested in educating people and then serving them. In the current scenario, your bank’s relationship manager or the local family insurance agent will suggest you products which THEY sell and earn the maximum commission from.
In the case of Finqa, we first educate the client, understand the client’s requirements, assess their goals and then craft a customised plan for them. We don’t have a conflict of interest in our product recommendations. We also recommend various product options from different companies so that clients can buy what they please.
We believe Fin10 will make a huge difference in peoples’ lives as they become financially aware. Two major areas where we believe this service will be of help include:
• It will help an individual learn how to manage his or her money and invest it better.
• Prevent them from being mis-sold financial products which they don’t require.
Another value addition that we bring via Fin10 is teaching the customers to ask the right questions and don’t overwhelm them with financial jargon.
Achievements So Far
We have had an encouraging experience so far. In the last 5 weeks since we launched Fin10, we have had over 100 users sign up for the course – A lot of them have expressed the need for such a service and are looking forward to the course. The course is primarily designed in a Q&A format and simple language, making it easy even for a layperson to understand, learn and retain information.
We have built custom financial plans for various segments of individuals, and developed a curated course on essentials of personal finance which we feel anyone who earns money should know about. Our product will help our customers with a step by step process to understand various facets of personal finance and help them plan their life accordingly.
The response has been very encouraging in the beta stage and we expect to see a significant increase in the customer base in the months to come.
The biggest challenge we have faced is changing consumer behaviour.
To give you an analogy, just as all smokers know smoking is bad for their health, they still end up doing it, something similar exists in personal finance – Almost everyone knows they should plan their personal finances but most end up procrastinating and put it on hold.
It’s not a very important priority till much later in life (e.g when they have a baby and realise they need to plan for the future). Since it’s more of a soft want rather than a pressing need, the sales cycle is longer for financial planning clients.
To mitigate these problems, we launched Fin10 so that we could engage with potential future clients on a regular basis while educating them at the same time. Changing consumer mindset will be difficult but not impossible.
Eventually, we want our clients telling their peers what we tell them: Signupfor Fin10. It will be one of the best investments you make in your financial life.
Growth And Funding
At this point, we are bootstrapping Fin10 from internal funds and will most probably look at raising funds once we reach a requirement for scaling.
Regarding growth, at this point of time, we have a quarter-on-quarter view instead of what it will look like in a few years. Eventually, we hope to serve the long tail of customers who have been ignored by banks and other financial insitutions and become their financial concierge for anything and everything to do with personal finance.
One of the targets we have is to have atleast 100,000 clients in the next 3 years.
Advice For Budding Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurship has been an interesting experience – joyous when we got a client, depressing when one didn’t convert, frustrating while constantly chasing corporates to get workshops and a whole sinewave of emotions. It’s still early days for us to be offering advice to budding entrepreneurs but there are two things they should keep in mind –
1. Things will never go according to plan, and
2. Think of building your startup as a marathon rather than a sprint.
To celebrate the first anniversary of LifeBeyondNumbers, we have partnered with Fin10 for a special offer for our readers.
For the next 5 days, the first 5 persons to signup at Fin10.com can avail the course free of cost. Just select Lifebeyondnumbers.com as your answer for the question – How did you hear about us? in the signup form.
The next batch begins on July 1, so hurry – Signup NOW!