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6 questions with Smartly’s Keir Veskivali

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In the next of our six questions series of interviews we caught up with Smartly CEO Keir Veskivali, to discuss the future of smart money management, the challenge of balanced regulation and the most exciting upcoming fintech categories. Enjoy!

Can you tell us a little about Smartly?

In order to understand Smartly, I would have to explain why we started this company. I’ve been asking myself for a long time, how come in a society that is more and more driven by money, people are still so bad at managing it? I’ve seen my close ones struggle with the topic of money, in terms of saving and investing, and for that reason I decided to start solving it. I usually like to use an example of a bully. The majority of us today, when it comes down to investing, are getting bullied by the lack of transparency and high, hidden fees. Similar to what I saw happening to my close ones, which is trusting someone blindly in hopes that they care about your interests. I started Smartly to break down the whole myth that investing is complicated and hard, which in the reality is not case. Investing at its core is really simple. You buy and hold, be diversified, and know your fees. This something that every individual should start with.

Regulation in this space is still relatively nascent. How can fintech businesses help regulators strike the right balance between fostering innovation and consumer protection?

This is a good question. Lately I’ve gotten a feeling that Fintech businesses are viewed from a point of view where we are doing something shady, dangerous or that we haven’t thought our processes through. I would say that this is totally opposite, because most Fintech business are about cutting costs, creating value and building their products for the people (like their friends, family, close ones, people they know etc). The last thing that any fintech startup wants to see is that they haven’t been compliant or that they have built something that is not actually working. The regulator has to protect the consumer, yes, but in the same time they have to look out for Fintech businesses who can move the industry forward. So my advice has always been to see more collaboration between startups and the regulators. I feel more than comfortable showing our product to the regulator and demonstrate how it works, that we are safe to the consumer, and that we follow the regulation. Smartly is focused on creating value for the consumers and in educating them about what is currently going on in the industry. Simple as that.

Will we see the end of financial advisors in the next 5-10 years?

This is hard to answer but we didn’t see the end of taxi drivers with UBER so I would say that financial advisors will be here in 5-10 years time but only when they embrace and adapt the change that is currently happening. Since it is still early days for robo-advisors then I believe we haven’t seen all sides of robo-advisors meaning there will be a lot of hybrid robos coming or current robos will move into hybrid models to offer a more complete solution for customers. But if financial advisors today think that they can keep charging high fees and underperform passively managed funds then we would like to think otherwise.

What is your plan for Smartly in the next six months?

Well, we have partnered up with a CMS license holder in Singapore and we are waiting for the final approvals from MAS to open up our platform for soft-launch. We have started to work more closely with our partner in Indonesia to launch our product for Indonesian market as well. For the next six months we’ll mostly likely be busy with onboarding customers, expanding our business, finding partnerships and scale to other markets – exciting times.

Beyond robo advisory services, what other areas of fintech interest you and why?

Everything that helps people save money or plan better for their future is something that I’m interested in. Having seen how money influences people in many ways, it is hard for me to accept the fact the people pay unnecessary and high fees to those who often put their interests before their clients.

Why are you looking forward to participating at Symbol: The Asian Fintech Summit?

I’m looking forward to meet people who share the same passion – to make a change or move the industry forward. You have the brightest minds coming down to share their experience and the struggles they have gone through. It is an excellent place to hear from them. Since we are close to launch I’m looking forward to meet potential partners and people who wish to be part of Smartly.

Keir is just one of over 100 speakers set to join us Symbol: The Asian Fintech Summit. To find out more about the show, check out our event site here.

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