How to become an investor when you don’t even know where to begin with? How to make accessible the dark world of finance? How to empower the investor over the so many confusing intermediaries? Jean-Bernard Tanqueray is entrepreneur from the London fintech scene. He addresses those issues with his platform stripyourbanker.com, a marketplace that he defines as a family office for all, that is to say an outsourced solution of self-wealth management, just like the GPS of the DIY investing. What was his journey to Strip Your Banker? We interviewed him to know more about his company and how to grow a fintech start up.
Tell us a bit about Strip Your Banker (SYB) concept and the company’s history.
If you want to invest your money nowadays, you’ve got a very plethoric offer: going and seeing your banker, trying robo-advisers, meeting wealth managers, choosing independent advisors. You have to spend a lot of time choosing the best offer for you.
The startup stripyourbanker.com is an investment marketplace that filters investment supply according to the specified needs of the user. It connects the right investors to the right people and funds, with a personalised approach, which could be described as a family office in the cloud. SYB smart platform is based on a specific algorithm that takes into account anyone’s financial situation, lifestyle and goals for the future. Another key point is that users fully retain control: we guide, they decide. All is transparent.
Who is your target?
This service will be accessible to anyone. But we primarily target customers who are in a grey area and who are not big enough to access private banking (under 15 million € of assets) while conventional banks are not adjusted to their requirements and their need for ergonomics. They are financially aware and want to keep control on all their investments, due to certain distrust in banks. We think of mobile customers, international people, and senior executives at a European level rather than exclusively British.
We target a 450 billion € market, comprising United Kingdom.
How does it work?
We have a three-part algorithm. The first one is a risk-profiling algorithm. The second one arbitrates between two investment styles to energize the capital: revenue growth (dividends) and capital growth (equity investment). The third part of the algorithm suggests a list of funds fitting the profile and ambitions of the investor.
We want something transparent, very simple (no jargon), and user-friendly. There are 17 behavioural questions around the risk tolerance (psychological questions more than technical questions). Like Apple and its WYSWYG, “What You See What You Get », we let people control what they get through playing with graphs. It is a direct experimentation of things, which helps in understanding the deep schemes of investment: the link between risk and profit
What are your key success factors and who are your competitors?
We give our customer access to an open range of funds and let them control the whole process of investment. And that’s our strength. Our competitors are much more robo adviserswhich don’t let them control the whole process of investment. Our approach is to assess the attitude towards risk asking people how much they can risk for a certain percentage of return on investment, just like in valuation of options. From this result, we propose different strategies from capital protection, revenue growth or dividend return, and clients may adjust strategies as they want.
Why did you choose the name Strip Your Banker?
It may seem provocative. It is wordplay on strip your banker of my way and strip his influence of my life. There used to be idolatry around investment banker and clients could be a little bit frustrated about it: now, as we give more power to clients, the banker should come back at the right level!
What was your journey to Strip Your Banker?
I have a very classical background: business school in France, corporate bank in London, rating agency in Paris and asset management at Fortis Investments (now part of BNP Paribas). Then I launched family office services in 2007. Later on, looking for opportunities as a business angel, I began to think about a company to solve the hugest problem in investment: selection. In 2013, I had a big plan of my start-up and I wanted to improve my knowledge. That’s how I integrated The Executive MBA of London Business School. There, I found one of my cofounder. My other cofounders come from my business school in France and my experience in finance. So now, I can say it is a synthesis of my whole experience!
What are your next steps?
Our MVP is now to be tested and we are in the early stages of our fundraising. In the near future, we also think about how to integrate blockchain to our start-up. And on a very long term, we could use our technology of selection for other sectors, such as finding the right lawyer.
How do you finance your start-up?
We are self-financed at the moment. That is the advantage of starting a company at mid-career level. Now we are looking for external capital. In Europe, you have a lot of subventions, especially in the UK. For example, with the startup loan, you get 25000£ without any guarantee to give. Another way to finance out a startup is to collaborate with people and pay them in common shares. Lastly, you have to fundraise your company.
How do you find fundraisers?
First, there is “friends, family and fools”! And that is what we are doing now. Then you can find business angels who have a very professional approach, on smaller investments than equity investment firms. When you become scalable and you are in phase of business development, you will have to call on venture capital.
What do you find special about the London startup scene? Do you find it difficult as a French startuper?
I have always worked between France and London. I think that London is undoubtly the fintech capital. However, in France, there is a wide pool of expertise in research and development. That is why it is important to connect the two worlds. But London is definitely an international city where “the entire world” meets. It is then much easier to build an international start up from London.
What is for you an entrepreneur?
Up to me, an entrepreneur has this little madness, which makes him go further. He cannot be satisfied with a linear life. He has a little more energy that leads him to test and prove his conviction. And he won’t sleep well until it is done! In fact, an entrepreneur is a child in permanent rebellion.
Do you admire some startups?
I think that Spotify and Transferwise are great. Transferwise capitalised on its origin country (Baltic States) with using local bank. And at the same time, they address the British market, which is perfect for innovation. There is also Alibaba in China. The founder just founded his firm in a Chinese context, although nothing predisposed him to. Well, I like this unconventional character as he pushes boundaries.