For today’s profile we are joined by Mike Fotis of Smart Money People. They are a customer review and insights platform for financial services. Let’s find out more about Mike and his company, our questions are in bold.
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Who are you and what’s your background?
After graduating from the University of Cambridge in 2010 I went into management consulting, mainly working with Retail Banking and Insurance clients, across the UK & Ireland. The idea for Smart Money People evolved over a few months of working on some very complex projects for my clients. I believed that there was a way of building better businesses while also delivering better outcomes for consumers. I knew that it was the right time to bring Smart Money People to life.
What is your job title and what are your general responsibilities?
I am the Founder of Smart Money People and run the business as CEO. We’re in a growth phase and so my role is changing at the moment. It’s becoming more client/partnership focused. It’s my job to sell the vision behind Smart Money People and help consumers and organisations alike to create a better financial services industry.
Can you give us an overview of your business?
Smart Money People launched in October 2014 as a next-generation review and insights platform for the financial services industry. Our mission is to use the power of reviews to help increase trust and transparency in financial services. We want to help consumers to compare products and companies based on factors like customer service, value for money and whether an organisation treats its’ customers fairly.
Our reviews are also really insight-rich and capture a mix of performance and regulatory data points. As we collect reviews across the board, we are building a unique source of customer insight, which gives us a great vantage point to deliver real value to organisations.
Tell us how you are funded.
We completed a six-figure round of financing in July 2015 which will help fuel our growth
Why did you start the company? To solve what problems?
Many consumers often find the financial services industry difficult to grapple with. The flip side of this is that it’s hard to engage a mass audience around financial services, which is something that any new entrant to the industry needs to do.
Reviews are a mechanism consumers understand, and increasingly look to them for guidance. So we created Smart Money People to build the most useful review platform in financial services. A platform that can help consumers, but that can also unlock significant insight for the companies that join us. I passionately believe that we can deliver a win-win outcome.
Who are your target customers? What’s your revenue model?
We aim to work with SMEs right up to some of the largest organisations in the UK. We work on a SAAS (or subscription) model.
If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change in the banking and/or FinTech sector?
Too many consumers have come to hear the word ‘banking’ or ‘financial services’ and turn the other way. The industry has come to be seen as fairly grey, and trapped in a cycle of misconduct.
Having a robust, trustworthy and well functioning industry is so important, but it really requires active participation from consumers to make it work. It’s the job of new companies to encourage this, and help it to happen quicker. I’d like the pace of change to really increase.
What is your message for the larger players in the Finance industry?
Large players have a tough job. The best FinTech players are focused on prizing away some of the most profitable parts of their business.
While a lot of the conversation around barriers to innovation has been focused on the issues with having multiple legacy systems, the cultural element shouldn’t be underestimated. Larger players think differently to the new kids on the block, which makes innovation harder to deliver.
What phone are you carrying and why?
I have an iPhone 5S. I’m due an upgrade soon and I’m likely to stick with an Apple phone.
Where do you get your industry news from?
FT and Guardian are daily staples. I dip into other publications like TechCrunch and AltFi now and then.
Can you list 3 people you rate from the FinTech sector that we should be following on Twitter?
I might need to name 4! Bruce Davies (@oikonomics), MD at Abundance is a true pioneer. Claire Calmejane (@ccalmeja), Lisa Wood (@atom_lisaw) and Sabine Popp (@sabinepopp) are, in different ways, helping to re imagine the banking landscape.
What’s the best FinTech product or service you’ve seen recently?
The team at Bought By Many are doing some pretty exciting things. Expansion into China and the acquisition of a long-established broker in the last few months means that they really are shaping the future of Insurance.
Finally, let’s talk predictions. What trends do you think are going to define the next few years in the FinTech sector?
Data and how this can be deployed to do some very smart and sophisticated things is a real hot topic. For example, data can be used to sharpen and innovate business models, while also helping consumers to make better decisions. We are seeing a lot of investment in this at the moment. But, getting consumers to buy into sharing ever more data, and making them comfortable with increasingly innovative uses of their data will at some point represent a significant challenge.
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If you’ve any suggestions for other hot FinTech companies (startup, or established ventures) that we should be profiling, I’m all ears. Don’t hesitate to drop me a note at email@example.com. There’s more information on this page.