Insights into how a UK media start-up is giving 10,000’s of millennials a daily-dose of financial news - and winning
For most people the world of finance is a mystery; your pay-cheque comes in at the end of the month and, if you haven’t spent it all on shoes and beer, sits in your bank saving account earning 1% interest if you’re lucky; you read news stories about the government’s inflation rate concerns, but have no idea why to be concerned; you have no idea why the price of Chilean copper has anything to do with you - and so ignore it.
It’s this world that hot new media-cum-fintech start-up Finimize is tackling head-on with its mission to make financial news easy to understand, and make financial services more accessible. And it’s this dual mission that makes Finimize an interesting new media company, as Finimize isn’t just focusing on delivering a newsletter but it’s also launching a platform called Finimize MyLife, which will allow people to generate their own personalised financial plan using Finimize algorithms.
Over a Cappuccino and tap water, Hackers.Media sat down with Finimize Co-founder Scott Tindle (the coffee drinker), to discuss why financial news doesn’t have to be complicated and why media companies don’t have to survive on advertising alone.
Q: Vision: Talk to me about Finimize’s vision and why you gave up your well-paid City job to write about compound interest and copper prices?
A: Finimize is all about making financial news easily understandable and making financial services accessible for our generation. Finance has been made way too complicated for too long - it’s time for people to understand that it doesn’t need to be that difficult. How Finimize achieves this is via its daily newsletter, that provides an understanding of the most important financial news stories of the day in 3 minutes. The 3 minutes part is important as Finimize is aimed at busy millennials, so it's key for us to condense down financial information concisely.
This is where my background working in the City as a former Bond trader comes in handy as part of my daily work used to be to compile a daily newsletter of the day’s financial news for my clients. I’m now pretty much doing exactly the same, but it’s millennials around the world who read my daily financial analysis rather than bankers in the City of London. And I leave out all the jargon!
Q: Product: What’s your product look like today, and how are you shaping it for the future?
A: Our core product is a daily newsletter that provides an understanding of the most important financial news stories of the day in 3 minutes. Typically there’s 2 or 3 articles covering the most important financial news of the day. We publish 3 different editions of the newsletter: a US, European and Global edition.
Beyond the newsletter we have a ‘premium product’ which comprises a mix of an app and a weekly review, which we deliver on a Saturday. The premium product is only available to readers who’ve recommended Finimize to 5 or more people via our referral system.
The v.1 of our product, the newsletter, has been about making financial news accessible; Finimize MyLife will be about making financial guidance accessible. We’re about to launch the Alpha product of what will essentially be an automated engine that provides a detailed and personalised financial plan.
Most people don’t understand compound interest, how much they should save each month to buy a property, what are the most tax efficient ways to save / invest, when life insurance becomes appropriate. Our aim is to democratise financial guidance.
Q: Growth: Talk through your growth journey, from zero to hero.
A: We started the newsletter 14 months ago, back in September 2015, and it now reaches 10,000’s (we can’t disclose the exact number, but we’re happy with the growth to date) around the world. We’re seeing a very high engagement rate for newsletter - which we measure mainly as open rates. The secret sauce behind our newsletter’s high engagement rate is very much down to walking the tightrope of speaking language that’s easy to understand but conveying information that’s sophisticated - all in a short amount of time.
Our growth has been down to a lot of hard work, and producing good content appropriate for our readership. Word-of-mouth and referrals have provided us with the greatest scale. Word of mouth is driven by people liking our content and proposition. Referrals are also driven by loyalty to our brand and content - and is all integrated such that users recommend their friends sign up through their own unique referral link and are given benefits in return, including access to the weekly review that I mentioned. A mention on start-up website Product Hunt soon after launch also proved useful for early growth, especially in building our US audience.
Q: Team: Finally, talk to me about the people behind Finimize.
A: We’re a very lean team. Up until a few months ago we were only 3 people: me (heading up content / editorial), my co-founder, Max Rofagha, who is our CEO and the initial brains behind the Finimize concept, and our head of product and community. We’ve recently hired a tech lead and two interns: one for tech and one for growth. We don’t expect to grow the team much further for the foreseeable future, until we’ve developed our various new product offerings. We also have a number of very well-respected advisors on board, who have experience in the financial planning industry.
The editorial engine is led by me, and supported by a number of financial journalists - who have written for titles like Reuters and Forbes. Because we have a US edition, my editorial day starts at 2pm (as the US markets open) and a typical edition of the newsletter will take 5 hours to produce. That said, my day often runs late into the evening, especially if a late news story breaks in the US. In that sense, my start-up work life isn’t much different from my life working long hours in the City.