My fintech story: I want to transform financial services

Millennials are starting all the fintechs, right? Not quite. Aged 50, ex-broker Ned Philips is bucking the trend after spotting a gap in the robo-advice market. 

Ned Philips, founder and CEO of fintech firm Bambu, is a perfect example of how age is just a number. Running his own fintech start-up at 50, we caught up with him on his early years at the heart of the fintech revolution, his journey so far, and tips for fintechs when collaborating with a bank.

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DBS Bank Hunting For a Robo-Adviser

Singapore's largest lender DBS is looking to add a robo-adviser solution to its product suite, finews.asia can reveal exclusively.

DBS Bank is looking for a partner to work on a robo-adviser, a source familiar with the matter told finews.asia. While Asia boasts a vibrant and expanding wealth technology scene, no significant deals have been struck. Local banks are working closely with startups, but there has been no major investment yet.

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Bangkok Bank wants to put Thailand in the Fintech Hub race

Thailand’s first global Fintech accelerator program, Bangkok Bank InnoHub, has completed its inaugural program with the eight participating startups pitching their innovative technologies to Thai and international investors on Demo Day.

Selected from 199 applications across 32 countries, eight startups have successfully completed the 12-week intensive program at Bangkok Bank, receiving expert coaching and advice from dedicated mentors within the Bank and its corporate innovation partner, Nest, in areas such as technology, business development and finance in the context of market and regulatory conditions in Thailand and the ASEAN Economic Community or AEC.

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Franklin Templeton's robo tie-up could be first of many

The US asset manager has strategically invested into a Singapore-based robo services firm. Other fund houses could follow as automated investing continues to rise across Asia
 

Source: Asian Investor

Source: Asian Investor

Franklin Templeton Investments' (FTI) decision to invest into Singapore-based robo services company Bambu could be the first of similar tie-ups, as asset managers seek to benefit from the huge potential of automated investing in Asia, say industry observers. 

Standard Chartered Regional CIO: building an innovative, creative and risk-taking mindset

The banking industry is changing rapidly in the digital age. Banks have to keep up with the pace of technological changes to meet customer needs and stay competitive. Peter Clark, Standard Chartered’s regional CIO of Greater China & North Asia, noted a CIO has to maintain the integrity and security of a bank’s systems while driving innovation and creativity and building a risk-taking mindset.

Source: Computer World Hong Kong/ Standard Chartered Bank

Source: Computer World Hong Kong/ Standard Chartered Bank

CWHK: What were the biggest challenges during your career?

Peter Clark (PC): The toughest time was a major system outage that I dealt with in 2006 when I was working with my previous employer. Our bank was impacted by the Taiwan earthquake that broke a number of submarine cables and disrupted international communications.... 

HKCSView: Robo-advisory in Asia -- to be or not to be

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has generated a lot of hype lately with AlphaGo defeating Chinese Go master.  In the world of finance, perhaps the most widely known application of AI (at least to the public) is robo-advisory.

Generally, a robo-advisor aims to construct an investment portfolio that meets an investor’s financial goals in an automated fashion. The advisory services industry in the US is undergoing significant transformation in the way it is becoming more customized.  Thus, robo-advisors have been growing rapidly and leading new players like Betterment is capturing total Assets Under Management (AUM) that exceeds US$7 billion. The incumbents are also rolling out their digital platforms.

Say hello to the new investment advisor – your local telco

In the wealth management space, financial companies will not be the dominant players. It will be telecommunications players, consumer brands, tech companies like ANT Financial and Tencent.

“If you have two main attributes – trust and customers – you can offer financial services.

“If you have a huge number of customers that trust you, you can offer financial services including robo advisory. Banks will still have a lot of the customers but the biggest growth from 2017, 2018 and 2019, will be companies that have now become financial services companies because they have customers that trust them,” predicts Ned Phillips (photo/video below), founder and CEO of Bambu, a B2B robo advisory firm based in Singapore.

Robo-Advisory firm Bambu sees Huge Potential for FinTech in Asia

 港銀近年致力發展金融科技(FinTech)應用,與渣打銀行合作、新加坡初創企業Bambu,看好亞洲帶領全球的金融科技發展潛力,目標未來3至5年內成為區內領先的智能財富管理公司。

去年2月成立的Bambu,主力研發智能軟件及投資方案以提高財富管理效率。公司上月於金融科技活動示範其中一項軟件功能,客戶只需輸入儲蓄用途及目標金額,軟件即可計算出在通脹等因素影響下,達成目標所需的時間及計劃。

亞洲平台僅逾10家 機遇大

本身從事金融業的創辦人及行政總裁Ned Phillips接受訪問時稱,選擇亞洲作為目標市場,主要是看好區內對智能財富管理的需求,「智能財富管理平台(robo-advisor)在美國及歐洲可能有100、50家公司,但在亞洲只有10至20家,反映龐大的機遇。」

中國向來是亞洲的主要市場,Bambu現階段卻未涉足內地。他續指,當地市場競爭激烈,作為外資企業不會貿然進入中國市場,必須覓得合適的夥伴,首選內地金融機構。

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English translation

Robo-Advisory firm Bambu sees Huge Potential for FinTech in Asia

Hong Kong banks have been strongly pushing for the implementation of FinTech in recent years. Bambu, a Singapore startup working with Standard Chartered Bank, sees huge potential for Asia to lead the global advancement of FinTech. They aim to become the region’s leading Robo-Advisory firm within the next 3 to 5 years. 

Founded in February last year, Bambu has been developing intelligent software and investment solutions to increase the efficiency of wealth management. The company demonstrated one of its software features at a FinTech event last month, where a client is only required to input the purpose of saving and initial investment sum to begin. The software then calculates the time period and financial plan required to achieve the client’s goals while adjusting for external factors such as inflation. 

Huge Opportunity in Asia with only 10+ Platforms Available

As someone with experience in the financial industry, Founder and CEO Ned Phillips said in the interview that the main reason for choosing Asia as the target market is the huge demand for Robo-Advisors in the region. While there are over 100 Robo-Advisory firms in the US and over 50 in Europe, there are only between 10 to 20 such firms in Asia, reflecting a huge market opportunity. 

Although China has always been the primary market in Asia, Bambu has yet to step into mainland China at its current stage. He explained that as a foreign firm, they will not enter the Chinese market hastily due to fierce competition in the local finance industry, choosing instead to select a mainland financial institution to work with as a partner. 

“Starting a company is never easy, but now is the best time to do it.” Phillips explained that it isn’t easy to convince financial institutions to take up FinTech solutions. However, more banks all over the world are beginning to search for new technologies and hence are more open to trying out new solutions. This global push has no doubt been beneficial to Bambu. 

Receiving Enquires from Banks nearly Everyday

In its 2 rounds of funding, Bambu has raised approximately USD$1.3 million in investments and hopes to raise a new round of USD$3.5 million soon. He revealed that the market demand for the latest round of funding has been intense, having reached the full target sum in a short period of time. Currently, they are receiving business enquiries from different banks nearly every day. The current situation is exceptionally optimistic for the company with an estimated revenue growth of 280% this year, reaching a total of USD$1.5 million. 

Standard Chartered initiates two POCs with fintech startups

Credit: MIS ASIA

Credit: MIS ASIA

Two fintech startups under the second batch of the SuperCharger FinTech Accelerator have initiated Proof of Concept (POC) projects with Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong.

The first startup is Bambu, a business-to-business (B2B) robo-advisory company that builds intelligent software and investment solutions to improve the efficiency of wealth management.

The second is KYC Chain, which offers a platform that provides greater convenience and security to users of distributed ledger technology (also known as blockchain). The platform allows users to manage their digital identities securely while businesses and financial institutions are able to manage customer data in a reliable and easy manner.

Commenting on the achievement, Veronika Kuznetsova, SuperCharger's Managing Director, said: "Such an achievement highlights the effectiveness of SuperCharger as a sustainable model for facilitating dialogues between the decision makers of the financial industry and the forward-thinking techpreneurs from startups, which ultimately leads to the advancing of the fintech ecosystem in Asia."

SuperCharger FinTech Accelerator is a 12-week accelerator that aims to enable international growth stage companies to expand their operations within Asia. It is backed by Standard Chartered Bank and Fidelity International.

Fintech startups under the programme are given access to mentors to venture capitalists, government officials, as well as SuperCharger's 2,000 square feet co-working office.

"Standard Chartered Bank is proud to partner the Supercharger FinTech Accelerator Programme, which gives us the opportunity to team up with the brightest technology companies in our Asian footprint and to deliver the best service to our clients. We are delighted that the programme is taking place in Hong Kong, a key market for us, giving promising fintechs a springboard to the rest of Asia," saidShameek Kundu, Standard Chartered's Global Head of Data, Technology Strategy and Innovation.

SuperCharger FinTech Accelerator 3.0 will begin accepting applications in the summer of 2017.

Source: MIS Asia

Singapore to send delegation of 11 startups to TiEcon 2017 to strengthen ties with Silicon Valley

TiE Singapore is sending a delegation consisting of 11 startups and key players in the local ecosystem to attend this year’s TiEcon in Silicon Valley.

For the uninitiated, TiE or The Indus Entrepreneurs (the founders came from South Asia, hence the name) is a pioneering entrepreneurial organisation that began in 1992 with the aim of helping entrepreneurs build their companies.

Since then, it has grown to 61 chapters in 18 countries across five continents, and claims a membership base of over 12,000.

Some of its renowned past speakers include Reid Hoffman, Co-founder, LinkedIn, Drew Houston, Co-founder & CEO, Dropbox, Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo and Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft.

The Singapore delegation, TiE Singapore, led by Puneet Pushkarna, TiE Chairman and General Partner of Solmark Ventures, will aim to strengthen ties between Singapore startups and the Silicon Valley ecosystem. The 11 startups span across a range of verticals including data analytics, fintech, and sustainability. They are:

Advanced Ophthalmic Innovations

Advanced Ophthalmic Innovations (AOI) aims to tackle the world’s second leading cause of blindness Glaucoma — a condition that damages the eye’s nerve through a build-up of pressure in the eye — using a glaucoma drainage device that regulates intraocular pressure in the patient’s eye.

BigTapp

BigTapp is a SaaS company that delivers customer and business insights using big data and analytics.

billionBricks

billionBricks is a non-profit innovation studio that builds scalable and sustainable shelters and infrastructure for the homeless and victims displaced by disasters.

Ideatory

Ideatory’s product Impress.AI uses AI to help employers screen candidates.

Planar Investments

Planar Investments’s apps such as TrackWealth help clients track and manage their investment portfolios.

PolicyPal

PolicyPal is an insurtech statup. Its app uses a dashboard to display existing insurance coverage, payment and renewal dates. Consumers will also be able to check outstanding insurance payment amounts, as well as policy expiry and payment dates.

FOMO Pay

FOMO Pay provides the tools to help businesses integrate popular digital payment platforms such as WeChat Payments, Baidu Wallet, China UnionPay and PayPal.

O2O Technologies

O2O’s product Kristal is an AI-powered online asset management tool that allow traders to broadcast their money management skills and investors to match with traders that best suit their investment objectives

Hearti Lab

Hearti Lab is a HR management platform that allows HR managers to manage employee processes such as timesheets, payroll and claims, employee benefits, and health insurance programmes. It also provides a chat messenger and a mobile app to engage with employees.

Dathena Science

Dathena Science makes data governing more accurate and simplified using machine learning and AI.

Bambu

Bambu is a fintech startup that provides white label robo advisor solutions for financial institutions.

Selection process

These startups will be selected based on these four factors: innovativeness; utility (solving a real problem); global applicability (especially in the US; and ability to be value accretive. They will receive pitch training and business mentoring in Singapore before they exhibit at the conference.

Additionally, since TiEcon is supported under IE Singapore’s iMAP (International Marketing Activities Programme) — which is designed to help SMEs and start-ups gain market access through participation in international trade fairs and missions — these startups will have up to 70 per cent of their core expenses paid for.

At the conference, the 11 startups will not only be exhibiting but will also undergo a boot camp with accomplished Silicon Valley mentors and entrepreneurs in a small-group setting. Selected startups will also have the opportunity to present to a panel of investors.

Also Read: IoT is a US$6 trillion dollar industry, but is the term even accurate in 2017?

Joining the 11 startups will be key movers in Singapore’s ecosystem. They include Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Roy Teo, Director, Fintech & Innovation Group of MAS and Steve Leonard, Founding CEO, SGInnovate. These delegates will be speaking at the conference.

Source: Yahoo

The Demo Day That Closed With The Bell At The Hong Kong Stock Exchange

Photo credit: Oddup

Photo credit: Oddup

SuperCharger Fintech Accelerator 2.0 held their Demo Day yesterday at the Hong Kong Exchange Square, the home of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong since the 1980s. Around 500 guests attended to watch, 7 startups pitch. The batch’s 8th startup X Notes Alliance was absent. The Demo Day later ended with an emotional speech by Janos Barberis, founder of SuperCharger, and the loud ringing of a bell, signaling the closing of the day’s trade. Read more about the Accelerator and startups background information here.

Oddup has rated our top pick in this batch.

Bambu

Bambu was the winner of Best Early Stage Startup Award at Fintech Finals 2017 in Hong Kong in February. They are also Oddup’s top pick from SuperCharger 2.0.

Founded in 2016 by Ned Phillips, Bambu has built a range of applications for use by businesses seeking to offer their customers automated, technology-augmented investment services. The company’s B2B Robo Advisor offers companies, financial and consumer brands offers the ability to integrate and benefit from the shift in digital wealth.

Industry: Oddup notes that the demand for integrating robo advisor technology is huge as banks are tapping into the millennial generation, which heavily depends on technology and mobility. Any solution that can provide banks cost effective and efficient entry point into the world of digital wealth would be very welcomed.

Market: Bambu is riding on the right trend by being a player on the B2B, rather than the B2C space. In the B2C space, wealth management startups will find it very difficult to gain traction since the general public is risk adverse and the acceptance of fintech is still low. Until the public changes their mindset on fintech, Bambu need not compete in the B2C area where supply of similar startups is high and consumer demand is low.

Expansion: Going forward, the company can scale from a B2B business model and later to B2B2C as banks’ distribution partners. In Asia, where general public still trust and rely heavily on banks, Bambu’s B2B2C position can take advantage of their trust in banks, making its product acceptance higher. For now, the B2B approach was proved to be right as the company has already clinched two B2B contracts in the first 4 months after product was launched.

Synergy with SuperCharger: Needless to say, SuperCharger, as a Hong Kong-based Fintech accelerator, can definitely be a stepping stone for Bambu to open its reach to financial market. It is also quite obvious that Standard Chartered Bank, one of SuperCharger’s main strategic partners, can be one of Bambu’s potential clients. Came as no surprise, at the Demo Day held yesterday, we confirmed that Bambu has signed PoC with Standard Chartered, with the product to be developed in the next 3 months.

SuperCharger – Fintech Accelerator…

Janos Barberis, founder of the SuperCharger, ended the Demo Day with an emotional speech. Starting his journey 3 years ago through sending a tweet out to Huy Nguyen Trieu, CEO of the Disruptive Group, Janos initiated the accelerator idea in London, and brought it to Hong Kong with the vision of tapping into the growing demand in Asia. Since then, SuperCharger introduced over 38 POCs, pilots and contracts (and pipeline), held 16 workshops and helped fundraised USD 600K committed investments for 2.0 cohort, while 1.0 alumni raised USD 80 million since last year's Demo Day.

Now strategically located in Hong Kong, SuperCharger is the first FinTech accelerator program dedicated to both startup and more established tech companies aiming to capture the Asian growth market. The program leverages on Hong Kong’s traditional strength as Asia’s finance and technology gateway.

April 11, 2017 marks the iconic day of SuperCharger.

Once again, congratulations to Janos and the amazing SuperCharger team!

Source: Oddup

 

Singapore FinTech major to set up incubator in Vizag

Synergy:Special Chief Secretary and IT Adviser J.A. Chowdary and founder-chairman of Marvelstone Group Joe Cho after signing the MoU at the FinTech Spring Conference in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.C.V. SubrahmanyamC.V.Subrahmanyam 

Synergy:Special Chief Secretary and IT Adviser J.A. Chowdary and founder-chairman of Marvelstone Group Joe Cho after signing the MoU at the FinTech Spring Conference in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.C.V. SubrahmanyamC.V.Subrahmanyam 

IT Adviser to CM, Marvelstone Group chief formalise deal

Singapore’s Lattice80, considered one of the largest FinTech (financial technology) hubs in the world, has signed a MoU with the Andhra Pradesh government to set up an incubator in Visakhapatnam.

MoU copies were exchanged between Special Chief Secretary and IT Advisor to Chief Minister J.A. Chowdary and Marvelstone Group Founder Chairman Joe Cho here at the first day of two-day FinTech Spring Conference being organised by Vizag FinTech Valley.

Stating that the MoU was the right initiative to put Visakhapatnam on the world FinTech map, Mr. Chowdary said the government had created Vizag FinTech Valley as an independent entity to make it a prominent FinTech hub.

Two major events

He said they had decided to hold two major events — a global FinTech start-up summit on October 9 and 10 in the city on blockchain technology and another event on February 19 and 20 in 2018. At the latter event, $1 million challenge for global companies and Rs. 1 crore challenge for the Indian companies in the fintech sector are planned.

Mr. Chowdary said 150 companies, several of them from abroad, were participating in the FinTech challenge being organised as part of the Spring Conference. Prize money of Rs. 15 lakh is offered to the best entries offering solutions. They will also be provided free space for six months and mentoring at FinTech Tower in the city.

Fifteen MoUs would be signed by the AP Government involving several companies from within the country and abroad for fintech promotion.

“Lattice80 will not only start the incubator at Sunrise Incubation Hub but also agreed to offer their expertise in introducing various courses in fintech by the educational institutions,” Srinivasa Moorthy, CEO of AP Electronics and IT Agency, an autonomous body formed by the government to promote sector-specific investments, told The Hindu .

“We are very excited over our maiden visit to Visakhapatnam. It is a very clean and beautiful city and we are confident that the city has the potential to become a fintech hub,” Aki Ranin, CEO of Bambu, a B2B robo advisory startup based in Singapore, said.

Source: The Hindu

Wealth management goes digital with Bambu

The startup provides technology-augmented, algorithm-based portfolio management services.

Singapore’s rapid economic growth in recent years has led to robust demand for various wealth management services, particularly in the financial technology (fintech) sphere. However, most of these services were still not at par with the demands of customers and were not time-efficient, cost-efficient, universally accessible, or simple.

Bambu – a B2B (business to business) digital wealth management service firm providing automated, technology-augmented, and algorithm-based portfolio management services – was established just last year to address these issues, “offering financial and non-financial firms the ability to integrate and benefit from the shift in digital wealth.” Services include digital strategy and backend integration.

“Bambu provides an innovative, cost-effective, and efficient entry point into the world of investing and wealth management,” said Ned Phillips, Bambu’s founder and chief executive officer. “Based in Singapore and Hong Kong, we market our services Asia-wide,” he added.

According to Phillips, who has an extensive background in fintech in Asia, Bambu began in March 2016 as a prototype based on a similar robo-advisor in the region. “There was huge interest. It was clear there was demand for a B2B robo-advisor,” he said.

Together with Phillips, Aki Ranin also forms Bambu’s main leadership team as chief operating officer. They plan to aggressively build Bambu’s presence in Asia. Bambu will be expanding its team and business in Hong Kong, its second market after Singapore, and invest in research and development around future technologies. As of August 2016, Bambu has raised US$400,000 in funding from a seed round.

Source: Singapore Business Review

Will Robo advisors make finance more efficient?

robo-advisors.jpg

Source: Robert Half

Automation has arrived in the financial services sector and has even taken on the form of robo advisors – financial planning software that helps investors manage their portfolios and process investment data.

According to industry news portal FinTechnews, Robo-advisory firms have sprung up in Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore to cater to different niches of investors that may have been previously under-served by banks.

However, robo advisors have the potential to displace the jobs of traditional wealth managers. Are robo advisors the key to unlocking efficiency in Asia’s banking and finance sector, or could they be a looming threat to bankers?

Expands the industry’s user base

Before robo advisors arrived in the investment scene, wealth planning was traditionally seen as something only high net worth (HNW) investors could afford. A private banker can provide such a service to someone with at least US$1 million in investible assets while those with smaller amounts are relegated to buying the fund-of-the-day at the local bank branch.

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With its lower cost of operation, robo advisors have since opened up financial planning access to investors with lower net worth as the starting minimum balance is reduced and a larger range of investment structures are made available.

According to Ned Philips, CEO of Singaporean robo advisor Bambu, robo advisors expand the investment market by offering a larger range of financial products and markets access to investors, as well as allowing different amounts of investments to be made.

“These moves increase public exposure to financial products and portfolios, which then encourages people to invest digitally. I believe this democratises the investment industry,” Philips explained.

Robo advisors can also expand the industry’s overall assets under management as the current level is still just a fraction of available assets in the region.

Chandrima Das, CEO of bionic robo-advisory Bento says, “Most clients in Asia are sitting on cash and are not investing in capital markets. An advisor using robo technology will be able to engage client efficiently and gather more assets and therefore scale up their total asset base.”

Simplifies the investing process

Unlike traditional wealth planning where investors may need face-time with their financial planners, robo advisors’ tech-based interface allows investors to have one-tap access to their portfolios through the mobile phone or tablet. This improves user experiences on the consumer end and customer service efficiency on the service providers’ end.

Artur Luhaäär, CFO and co-founder of robo advisor Smartly, says that this new platform solves a huge gap between what customers want and what institutions are offering.

“I believe that today’s investors want a digital product that is easy-to-use, understandable and transparent in both their structure and their fees. Robo advisors help facilitate that,” he added.

On the industry front, Philips says that robo technology makes wealth managers’ lives easier: “Financial institutions can use robo advisory services to automate administrative investor data, which helps relationship managers focus on providing value-added services to their clients,” he said.

Das believes that robo advisors may even encourage more people to sign up as financial advisors as the focus goes “back to basics where the advisor in involved in engaging the clients.”

Creates new jobs and demand for new skills

Although robo advisors have the potential to displace the jobs of traditional wealth managers, they can also create a new range of jobs as finance industry trends.

Das predicts finance jobs requiring new skill sets to pop up in the industry. “For instance, robo advisors need investment analytic tools to assist in their operations, and ETF providers would also find themselves busy to support the ecosystem,” she explained.

Luhaäär agrees with the sentiment as well: “To me, robo advisors represent the movement towards quantitative, technology-powered investment solutions and products. Besides jobs involved in developing robo-advisory technology, there will be a need for new jobs in quantitative finance.”

As the digitisation of asset management inevitably involves large amounts of data analysis, quantitative analysts will be in demand by robo-advisory companies to make sense of clients’ investment data.

Not (yet) a perfect solution

While robo advisors have introduced much-needed innovation in the wealth planning process, there are some limitations given that it is still a developing technology.

  • Limited scope of financial planning. Although robo advisors help make investing more convenient for newer and non-traditional investors, they are unable to provide full-scale financial planning beyond portfolio management. Wealth management is more than just investing. It involves managing estates, taxes, insurance policies and other lifetime financial needs – areas that are not within the robo advisors’ current capabilities.  This means that the jobs of finance professionals who specialize in these ‘other’ areas of financial management will still be in demand in the market.
  • Not equipped to handle complex situations. Robo advisors are efficient at handling the mechanics of investing, but investment decisions are not just influenced by market trends and logic – they’re influenced by what goes on in investors’ lives as well. According to investment research resource Morningstar, it’s hard for computer algorithms to take major life situations into account when ‘advising’ investors. In these situations, investors need the benefit of human insight to come up with an appropriate financial plan, indicating the people aspect will remain of vital importance in the financial services industry.
  • They can’t prevent unwise financial decisions. Robo advisors run on algorithms that suggest investment strategies based on the data that their users key into their database. However, they cannot prevent investors from making poor investments and financial decisions outside of what has been keyed in, such as being a loan guarantor to unreliable borrowers or not having an emergency fund.
  •  

Robo advisors will still need humans

Robo advisors have helped expand the industry’s reach, simplify the investing process and create new jobs in digital banking and development. However, human insight is still necessary in financial planning, which makes a human-robo combination the more viable wealth planning strategy for the modern investor.

A Hong Kong-based investment banker that Robert Half spoke to supports the balanced viewpoint: “When wealth managers utilise robo capabilities, investors (ultimately) get better service. Robo advisors can help access databases and predict customised services for customers with artificial intelligence, while bankers get to handle more clients during busy periods. Those bankers with good problem-solving skillswill do well while those without should start developing these now.”

SuperCharger Startup Highlight: Interview with Ned Phillips, Founder and CEO of Bambu

by Seyoung Lee, Program Manager of SuperCharger

I sat down with Ned Phillips,Founder and CEO of Bambuto interview him as a part of our Startup Highlight Series for the 2017 SuperCharger 2.0 cohort. Ned has been based in Asia for the past 25 years, and has been working in FinTech since 1999.

Bambu is a B2B Robo-Advisor firm offering financial and non-financial firms the ability to integrate and benefit from the shift in digital wealth. They won the Best Early Stage Startup Stage Award at Next Money FinTech Finals 2017!

 

Q: Tell us a little about Bambu.

Bambu is a B2B robo-advisory solution partner offering digital wealth services to banks looking to provide their end users a financial tool to save and invest their money. We target financial institutions — asset managers, banks brokers; and non-financial institutions — telcos and eCommerce — to enable them to integrate and benefit from the shift in digital wealth.

 

Q: How did the idea of Bambu arise? What is your mission?

My 25 years in the Asian financial landscape provided me with an insightful exposure and development of the regional financial industry. From this, I realised that the biggest demand for robo was in the B2B space. That influenced me to start Bambu.

Bambu was founded to be Asia’s leading B2B robo-advisor. Our mission is to provide wealth management products to businesses that enable their customers to save and invest for their future. We believe every individual deserves the best financial advice irrespective of his or her personal wealth.

Q: People say robo-advisory is a crowded space. What are your thoughts about this?

I think they couldn’t be further from the truth. People talk about how crowded the robo-space is but when individuals are asked about owning a robo account, most don’t have.

According to statistics, about one percent of current markets in United States are already using robo-advisory. The term ‘robo-advisory’ could be a buzzword with people within the industry as they are constantly surrounded by it. However, beyond this circle, many are not familiar with the term or aware of this new technology. As an analogy, people like to say if the life of the earth is one year, then we humans have been on it for a mere two seconds. So I would say, if the life of the robo-advisory is a year, I would say we are in the first week of January. These are early times for this industry.

Q: Why would banks and other financial institution choose Bambu over building a robo in house?

To reap the advantage of time and money. Banks would have to invest a large amount of time and money in building their own in-house robo. Working with Bambu allows banks to leap frog over this hurdle as we will provide the establish technology platform at a shorter time frame.

Additionally, firms working with Bambu can also choose to start on smaller projects and evaluate the platform thereafter. The partnership allows them to consider the platform without a large initial investment of time and money. Banks will benefit from Bambu’s vast knowledge and expertise on fintech to move ahead in digital wealth.

Q: There are several robo-advisories. Why choose Bambu?

Bambu does not build a one-size-fits all product. Acknowledging every company has different needs and expectations, Bambu customizes its products to meet these differing needs.

Bambu has developed three different products for each segment — Intelligent Advisory, White-Label Robo and Robo-in-a-box. The Intelligent Advisory is a private banking app that enhances the relationship manager’s services, White-Label robo is a customizable goal-based platform for high net worth individuals and Robo-in-a-box is marketed at the retails firms.

Our team has a strong backbone in tech and finance; Aki Ranin, COO at Bambu, is a recognized authority in FinTech with more than 15 years of experience while I have over 25 years of experience in finance and was former MD for E*TRADE in Asia. Between us, Aki, me and the other team members, we hold expertise in technology engineering, design thinking and business development. Unlike most companies, we found a customer, built the platform and team and grew from there. So we started the unconventional way, which makes us kind of different.

Q: What’s in the pipeline for Bambu in 2017?

Future proofing Bambu.

1. This involves selling to a big non-financial consumer brand client.

2. Bambu has introduced a collaborative research program into applications of Deep Learning and Neural Networks in Finance. These tools have an incredible potential in simplifying and automating financial processes that are currently complicated and cost-prohibitive. Bambu’s dedicated research and development team offers over 50 years of experienced and are based across Australia, United Kingdom and Singapore.

3. We won Best Early Stage Startup Award at Next Money FinTech Finals 2017 in Hong Kong, and have a PhD student coming on board the team. This will set us apart and ahead of the competition.

4. By the end of year, we aim to have a team of 20 with a strong development team and a solid book of clients. In the near future, the number of FinTech startups will increase rapidly and we aim to be the leading robo firm.

Q: Any tips for other FinTech start-up founders?

1. Perseverance is the key. Sell more than you are currently. You have to continuously sell your products. Its about doing hundreds if not thousands of meetings, having a large pipeline of clients and following up with all of them.

The romantic notion of start-ups is “so great, fun, fluffy and wonderful, we are going to change the world”. The reality is, it takes a lot time to gets deals, and it’s hard. If you nail it, everything will fall into place.

2. Build a product that you truly believe in. So when Steve jobs was asked, “how do you know what to build, how do you know what people want?” He replied, “people don’t know what they want until I build it”. None of us are as good as that, so we have to get the market’s perspective repeatedly. You need to test and question your product by everyone, get feedbacks on improvements, fix it and repeat.

3. One major reason startups fail is due to lack of money. Manage your finances well and keep track of expenditure.

Q: Do you have any last words?

SuperCharger has built an accelerating environment that pushes the finalists to grow through demo presentations, workshops, events and more. Your encouragement and perseverance enables each team to strive in their expertise. Because of SuperCharger, Bambu is progressively maturing since the start of the program and for that, we thank you.

To get in touch with Bambu, please email info@bambu.life

Email the writer: seyoung@fintech.hk