Empowering millennials to become their own financial advisors. Max started Finimize after realising that he had no idea what to do with his savings – and neither did his friends who worked in finance. In his search for independent advice, he created a community of over 150,000 people and sends them news about finance in a way that enlightens and delights. When talking about Finimize, 80% of subscribers use the word ‘love’.
WHAT'S THE BACKSTORY?
Max grew up in Berlin and studied in the US. After working as a consultant and exploring the idea of setting up a chocolate company, he founded the website Dein Deal. He was 24 when he started out and sold it three years later after growing the team to more than 200 people with 100m in annual revenue. At the height of success, this was the most popular ecommerce platforms in Switzerland, selling to 25% of all households and having a better brand awareness than British Airways. He was even featured in the 30 under 30 of the brightest young entrepreneurs by Forbes magazine.
Then he founded Finimize in early 2016 and grew it organically to one of the largest millennial audiences in finance. Ironically, retail and finance were the two sectors that he didn’t want to work in. So how did he end up here? Well, after a few years of setting aside money every month, he found that over time he built up some savings. Even though he studied economics, he had no idea how to invest for the future. He asked a few of his friends who worked in finance – and to his surprise, they didn’t know either. He didn’t have enough money to pay an independent financial advisor, so he booked a meeting with the bank. Within minutes of sitting down, he found out that this was primarily a product sales pitch.
After the meeting, he did what any other millennial would do in this situation and turned to Google. This was when he discovered that he wasn’t alone. It turned out that 86% of millennials save every month. But 50% of these keep their assets in cash because they don’t know what to do with their money. While Max’s previous company was driven by sales, the idea for a start-up began to take shape that was driven by something else – a mission to solve a problem that he was experiencing himself.
WHAT'S HE DOING ABOUT IT?
Max began to find people in a similar situation and created a large, engaged community around a daily email newsletter. He covered subjects that are usually considered dry and uninspiring – interest rates, news about central banks and stock prices – but did this in a way that seemed to strike a chord. The replies came in thick and fast; people telling him that they love their Finimize emails and sending in photographs of themselves with their feet up on the desk wearing Finimize socks and other merchandise (swag that’s sometimes sent out spontaneously and has become typical of the company’s user-centric approach).
Their mantra became: We want to enlighten you and we want to delight you. Instead of spending money on marketing, Finimize focused all their attention on their users, sending them handwritten postcards and even publishing Max’s personal contact details on the website. Now they are at a point where people are beginning to understand the world of finance, Max and his team are launching a product to focus on personal finance. Finimize MyLife gives tailored answers to questions such as: How much should I invest? What should I do with my cash? Do I need to save for retirement? What if we want to buy a house? How much does having a kid cost?
If you’re wondering whether there is a demand, consider this: In the US alone, $40 trillion of assets are about to be passed down from baby boomers to millennials. This is the biggest transfer of assets in history. We have already seen the rise in budgeting apps and products like Mint – now the next frontier is personal finance. Max’s ambition for Finimize is to become top of mind for this sector. If you think of shopping, you think of Amazon. If you think of online financial advice, you think of…?
The Finimize community is growing every day and receiving their excellent newsletter (subscribe here). The next step is to roll out a beta stage for Finimize MyLife, offering financial advice to millennials. There’s already a waiting list of over 30,000 people – and in typical Finimize style, if you sign up now you can even request a personal phone call from Max when you’re accepted as a beta user.