“Wealth management today is still not very cool. It’s still seen as manual with a lot of friction and expensive. As a young person said to me, ‘it’s sold by dudes in suits’. But the perception of digital wealth has changed dramatically. It’s no longer a zero sum game. All advisors need some digital, they can’t have zero. ”
–Ned Phillips, CEO, Bambu
Bambu is a B2B robo-advisor software that offers digital wealth services to financial and consumer businesses the ability to integrate and benefit from the ongoing digital transformation in wealth management. We market our services worldwide, capitalizing on our traction to tap the growing robo-advisory market.
Ned has been based in Asia for the past 25 years; starting his journey in FinTech since 1999 with E*TRADE as one of the very first online brokers before becoming Managing Director in 2007. He was part of the transformation of the stock exchange where he developed two pan-Asian exchange, one of which is in conjunction with SCX and Chi-X. Ned had the opportunity to experience the first dot-com boom with one of the original FinTech companies as well as become appointed as a consultant to 8 Securities when they launched the first Robo-Advisor in Asia.
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This episode of Wealth Management Today is brought to you by Ezra Group Consulting. If your firm is evaluating new technology or looking to improve your current wealth platform, you need to contact Ezra Group. Don’t spend another day using technology that doesn’t offer an elegant user experience. Your advisors and clients deserve better and you can deliver it to them with the help of Ezra Group.
- Acorns [19:27]
- Alibaba Group [17:38]
- Apex Clearing [12:31]
- Betterment [01:15]
- E*Trade [03:26]
- Franklin Templeton [09:17]
- Gojek [17:42]
- Grab [17:42]
- HSBC [09:18]
- MoneyLion [19:27]
- Nutmeg [01:17]
- PEAK6 [12:28]
- Personal Capital [06:23]
- Refinitiv [32:10]
- Robinhood [03:57]
- Snappy Kraken [24:01]
- Standard Chartered [09:19]
- Stash [19:27]
- StashAway [01:19]
- Tencent [17:38]
- Uber [17:42]
- Vanguard [06:25]
- Wealthfront [01:16]
Topics Covered in this Episode
- WMToday in Singapore
- World Fintech Hub
- Don’t Stand Still or You’ll Be Left Behind
- How to Fall Into the Bottom 25%
Complete Episode Transcript
Craig: On this episode of the Wealth Management Today podcast, I’m happy to announce, I have Ned Phillips, founder and CEO of Bambu. Welcome to the program.
Ned: Thank you, Craig. How are you?
Craig: Brilliant. Thank you for asking. It’s lovely here in New Jersey and it’s nine o’clock at night, so it’s pitch black out but it’s nine o’clock in the morning for you in lovely Singapore.
Ned: That is correct. It’s I have been living in Singapore almost 30 years, doing US calls and sales pitches, I almost instinctively know whether it’s night or exact time for the people I’m speaking to over there. So yes, your night is my morning.
Craig: And I’ve got some Singapore business, so I’m used to making these 9:00 PM, 10:00 PM and later calls. It’s a little bit rough, but I haven’t been a night owl, so it works for me. Can you give the audience a 30-second elevator pitch for Bambu?
Ned: Of course. So for audiences, let’s say whether you were in America or Europe or Asia, you’ve heard of Betterment or Wealthfront or Scalable or Nutmeg or out here in Singapore, StashAway. They are what we’d call roboadvisors, B2C roboadvisors. We are Bambu, we design and build those for banks. So we’re a pure B2B firm and really our elevator pitch to our clients is, do you need to have your own roboadvisor like the new ones you see in the market? If the answer is yes, we are the team that can build that for you. We’ve learned that that needed to be our elevator pitch, because we used to say things like, we’re B2B in wealthtech and digital advisory. And people were like, can you build me a Betterment? I’m like, yes, we can do that for you. So we’re a four year old company, we’ve worked with about 20 different organizations globally. And we proudly have said that we’ve had clients on every continent apart from Antarctica, where wealth management is not that popular.
Craig: Not yet, at least.
Ned: Not at the moment, the world is changing. So who knows Craig?
WMToday in Singapore
Craig: So one of the reasons that I wanted to have you on is we’ve actually got a lot of listeners in Singapore, and we peaked at the #11 FinTech news podcast in Singapore, I think it was in May. It’s up and down, but we hit #11, almost top 10. So I wanted to get more Singapore firms on the podcast to serve this audience, so thanks for joining me. I’ve actually followed your firm a bit, I saw you on Benzinga and some other conferences you were at, and I was really interested in the platform you build. So is there a difference in how banks see digital advice now versus when you started the company?
Ned: Well, look, I’ll do all I can to get you up to #10 by giving some insightful comments, we’ll see what we can do that.
Craig: If not I’ll edit it out so it sounds insightful.
Ned: Thank you very much. I appreciate that. To answer the question from a Bambu perspective, but also perhaps from a personal perspective, I’ve been in FinTech 25 years, so I’m not not trying to sound grandiose, but when I started at E*Trade in the ’90s, we didn’t think of ourselves as FinTech. We just thought, Oh, we can put broking online. And in the ’90s, that sounded a bit strange. Why does broking need to be online? We have brokers. But clearly today, fast forward, 25 years, and somebody actually said to me, I’m 53 Craig, so a real young person in their 20s said, “E*Trade? Was that one of the legacy brokers from long, long ago?” He was like, “You mean like Robinhood, but before?” And I was like, no, no, E*Trade is cool, used to be cool.
But the reason I mentioned that is wealth management today primarily is still not very cool. It’s still seen as manual, a lot of friction, expensive. And again, as that young person said, “it’s sold by dudes in suits”. Now, maybe that was five years ago, and what we’re definitely seeing now is that we’re standing on the shoulders of whether it’s a Betterment or Wealthfront, or WealthSimple, Scalable. People who’ve come into the market, not just at mass retail, but we see up to personal capital. And when we started four years ago, Craig, and when I say banks, I mean the word financial institutions be they wealth managers, asset managers, RIAs, banks. And I would say, you need digital. They’re like, do we really? You think so, why? And they kind of understood it and they could see it changing. But in these short four years, Craig, we haven’t made an outgoing sales call for a year.
We only have incoming now. So the change that we see and partly it’s the new world we find ourselves in now. But even before that, to your question, do they look at it differently? Yes. Because it’s no longer a zero sum game. Like they think, Oh, humans are all digital, they’re understanding. All humans need some digital. They can’t have zero. That’s the biggest change. It used to be, Oh, we can just have an advisor, now it’s my advisor needs some digital. I might not get him to 100%. So I truly think in the last four or five years, the perception of digital in wealth has changed dramatically. Yeah.
Craig: And we’re seeing the same thing here. So it’s interesting to hear that. It is becoming more table stakes. I see it similar to how a website was 10 or 15 years ago where a lot of firms saw a website as not really that important, especially on the advisory business side.
Ned: Online banking, like our analogy is 10 years ago, if your bank had online banking, that was pretty cool today. The idea that your bank wouldn’t have online banking is unthinkable. And I think wealth management is in that process as well.
Craig: Your point is valid that a lot of firms still don’t see that’s not a zero sum game. It’s not an all or nothing between digital and human, there’s hybrid firms like Personal Capital and Vanguard and others are now realizing hybrid seems like a more sustainable way to build that type of business.
Ned: I think to me, whoever named it and Craig, if you know them, you’re obviously a very experienced person, you can tell me I’d love to have a drink with them or a coffee with them who named it “roboadvisor”, because it’s the wrong name. The word “roboadvisor”, I think leads people to this binary idea. Oh, it’s the robot that gives advice. So therefore the human’s out of a job. I know I quite often say we’re digital wealth or B2B tech and people go, Oh, you build roboadvisors. And I think it is just the naming of the sector itself hasn’t helped the image when people believe in binary. Well, you’re right. It’s not binary. Right. We all have some digital in our lives and wealth should be no different.
Craig: That’s true. I don’t know who did it if I did, I’d probably want to beat them over the head with something hard because everyone hates the name. But we’re stuck with it because that’s what everyone calls it. So you started in Singapore and obviously you live there, so that’s the best place to start it, but did you see Singapore as having an advantage versus starting your firm in another location?
Ned: Yeah, so obviously Craig, the reality is I’m from the UK originally. I moved out to Asia in the ’90s. So 30 years ago, sometime in Hong Kong I spent, and then I’ve been in Singapore the past 18 years. So I was on a podcast the other day, and the debate was what is the FinTech hub of the world. And I was in Singapore, one person in London, one person in San Fran, and of course we all fought our own corners. We all, it was not an unbiased debate and I can not claim to be an unbiased surveyor of the FinTech scene. But in the last five years what the Singapore government and the Singapore regulators have done is simply say to us, We encourage you to experiment. We encourage you to try. We will help you. Even the government has stood up here and said that FinTech is now a sector in their economy, along with import export, tourism, finance, etc. And you know, we have one great challenge in Singapore, we only have 6 million people. But we have one great advantage, that our infrastructure from government to funding to people’s skills is amazing. And around us, we have, I’m going to say half the world’s population. I don’t know if that’s entirely correct, but with India and China and Indonesia. So for me, it was the combination of I’ve been here. I think the other point is Craig look at 51, when I started it I was 49, and I’m B2B. So I’m trying to sell. So for example, some of our clients and investors are Franklin Templeton, HSBC Standard Chartered. Because I’m old, and at these institutions, other old people, our clients will like be calling them old. When you’re selling B2B, you have to have a contact list. So if I suddenly moved to London and was like, hi, I’m Ned. I’m trying to sell FinTech to the decision makers. They don’t know me. Right. And that’s a reality. So you know, the infrastructure and the fact I was here and the fact I’ve been 25 years here. Yeah. It wouldn’t make sense for me to start anywhere else.
Craig: Indeed. Now, landing investors like HSBC and Standard Charter, how did you convince them that this was something they needed to invest in?
Ned: So there’s this rule in FinTech you’re told, never do a startup with a founder you just met. Cause if you don’t know them, it’s not going to work. Well, at Bambu, me and my co founder Aki we were introduced by a gentlemen and he said you two would be great together because he is everything I’m not. He’s younger, he’s 40 now. He thinks he’s still a millennial, I keep telling him he is not. But he is a computer engineering graduate. He is a thinker. He’s from Finland. So they don’t speak so much there, they believe in less words, more thinking. He’s visionary tech, fantastic. I’m the opposite. I’m not a believer in thinking, I’m a sales guy. I like to run around, wave my hands, randomly in the air. And I believe things will happen. So what we realized was he builds, I sell. Of course, I think a little bit, he sells a little bit. But when we came to talk to the institutions, we started to build a combination. For example, the average age of Bambu is pretty young Craig, we’re not full of old people like me. We’re full of 20 year olds. And I think what we presented was a pretty innovative approach. We didn’t turn up and say, we’re an investment company. One of the things I think we’ve seen a lot is a lot of robos turn up to institutions and say, Hey, we can build you a portfolio. Let us tell you how to manage money. And they’re like, hold on, we’ve been managing money for 50 years. What are you doing? We turned up and said, Hey, we can show you how to make technology work for you. Your technology, you’re not harnessing it. And literally, we had teens in hoodies, startup space.
We used AI, machine learning, real tech. And I think that was part of what, and again, I can’t speak totally for our clients, but we tried to present this. We’re not trying to teach you how to invest money. Cause we know you can do that, but we truly believe we have some different thoughts around how you should use technology. And I think that’s what we’ve always focused on of Bambu. And that’s what worked for us.
Craig: Can you talk about some of your other investors? So the one that peaked my interest was PEAK6, which is also owner of Apex Clearing, which is very high tech, very forward thinking, very plugged into the FinTech digital advice vendors. How do you find that relationship helping you to grow?
Ned: It’s amazing. Seriously, four and a half years ago when we started this company, to be honest, we didn’t know who PEAK6 were. We knew who Apex were of course, but you know, like anything in a startup, it’s a mixture of planning and luck. And the piece of luck that we had about a year ago was Bill Capuzzi, who is the CEO of Apex, was introduced by a mutual friend of mine. And we were in New York, we had breakfast and we were keen to integrate to Apex. Like you said, they have a digital infrastructure, they’re working with the new disruptors of wealth we really want, because we would try to break into the US. And we had breakfast with Bill and he was like, Hey, sure, we can talk about integrating. By the way, are you raising money? And we were, and he said, have you heard of PEAK6? And shamefully, we had not. And he made the introduction. You know, that company is obviously well known like yourself, Craig, you know wealthtech, you know Apex you know PEAK6. It’s been amazing. The relationship for us with Apex, it’s exactly what we want to do.
We want to connect to these types of infrastructure players who are digital and PEAK6 themselves, obviously they have a range of investments, different sectors, but for us being both strategic and financial. And so we’re fully integrated to Apex now. We have our technology called Bambu Go, available to advisors in the US. Apex, we talked to them all the time. We’re now doing some more work with them, and honestly, PEAK6 has helped us and cheered us on all the way, we got one of those lucky breaks. Like we nearly missed the meeting. Honestly, Craig, there was a window to have with Bill.
Craig: How would that have changed your life?
Ned: You know, I’m a huge believer in karma and it is what it is. And Bill could only make this 8am breakfast. He had something booked. We moved out flight. We moved our flight to leave New York. And my co founder said to me, Ned, we’re not flying out tonight, we’re moving it to tomorrow, having breakfast with Bill. I don’t know. You know, honestly, Craig, I’m sure Bambu would still be here, but we wouldn’t have met PEAK6, we wouldn’t have found that Apex deal. Life, would it be different.
Craig: It would be a different Bambu.
Ned: It would be because now we have got a few clients in America, so we’re obviously working with Franklin, but we’ve got four different clients in America, one is live. Apex is helping us tremendously. Yeah. It would have been different, but that’s that’s part of the startup journey as well.
Craig: A lot of serendipity and a you gotta be in the right place at the right time.
Ned: Although I think it was a baseball coach who said “the harder I work, the luckier I get”, we say meet everybody, talk to everybody, to everything. Wealthtech, wealth management is changing beyond all recognition right now. And the old school way of doing it isn’t going to work. Craig. I mean, you see it, you’ve been involved in it for ages, right? Is it changing more rapidly than you’ve ever thought? To me it is.
Craig: Oh sure. I’ve written about this, and this is not my statement, but it’s “the pace of change is accelerating all the time”. And I was quoted as saying something, which I actually was just repeating something that someone else said, where it was “the pace of change will never be as slow as it is today”. Meaning the pace of change will continue to accelerate. So you think it’s fast today, wait until next year, it’s going to be even faster. The adoption rates are speeding up, the ability of firms to adopt technology. I just posted an article where the title was A Decade of Digital Transformation in Just 90 Days.
Don’t Stand Still or You’ll Be Left Behind
Ned: Ha! Now Craig, whether that was meant to be clickbait to a degree, the reality is this. I really like that in that we have seen in these last three months in particular, the amount of inquiries coming to us is incredible. And again, partly obviously driven by what’s happening, but I think in wealth management, and this is not our statement it’s been said before, if you’re standing still in wealth management today, that’s I think that’s pretty much it for you.
Craig: You need to keep moving. And that’s what will hold back firms and I don’t think it’s necessarily just wealth management, it’s every industry. We can’t sit still because every industry is using technology way more than they thought they would, and there’s more disruptive forces coming that they don’t see. If they saw them, they wouldn’t be disruptive.
Ned: So we have some companies in Asia that in the US you would have heard of, obviously Alibaba and Tencent. But out here we have two super apps called Grab and Gojek, which started like Uber but has moved into all types. They’re getting into wealth management. To me, is it disruptive when one bank launches a robo compared to another bank? It’s disruptive a bit. But what Alibaba has their wealth, their money market tool called Yu’E Bao, which means leftover treasure, where they swept the cash from the wallet into a money market fund. Quarter of a trillion of AUM, largest money market fund in the world. In two years, that is disruptive. Sweeping, miniature amounts from your wallet when you buy a coffee. The disruption to me is a key point. If you’re a large asset manager and you don’t have a person whose job it is to distribute your funds to a tech company, you’re already too far down the wrung of the innovation stakes. It’s not just keeping up with your peers. Your neighbors are building crazy different wealth management tools, 24/7, and in Asia driven by this super app mentality. That’s helped us a lot, being in Singapore, Craig that’s, what’s helping FinTech here. The super apps are driving everything from wealth tag to e-payments, whether it’s blockchain. Like it doesn’t even have to be crazy innovative to work. And the take-up is in the multi-millions and I think it was great.
Craig: I’ve written in the past also that I see wealth management being taken over by apps, or mobile-based wealth tools, and they all go at it different way. Firms like Acorns, Stash, MoneyLion they see the world differently than traditional wealth management does. Traditional wealth management sees clients as somebody you talk to once a quarter or a couple times a year. And if they’re calling you more, that’s annoying, why are they doing it, it’s a problem. They’re upset. They shouldn’t do that. Whereas, no business in the world works that way. Every other business in the world says, I want to talk to you more. You’re my customer. What else can I do for you? What else can I sell you?
Ned: But the interesting point is this. So this is our experience Craig, in how this has happened. When we pitch, when we talk to financial institutions, they have a question and the question is this, how can technology help me sell more products? When we speak to super apps, they say, how can we keep the customer in our ecosystem? They don’t care what products they sell. They’re not there to sell products. And here’s the thing, how many people wake up every morning and think I’d like to buy a balanced equity portfolio today? You don’t, you wake up and think I want a better financial life. And Craig, you nailed it. You don’t want to speak to your advisor because you think he’s going to sell you a product. What you just is a better financial life. And I think as long as banks keep asking, how can technology help me sell more products? They’re building the wrong things and the super apps Craig, four years ago, it was my pitch. You need a robo because a super app, a mobile app will sell wealth. And four years ago, everyone laughed at me. They’re like, Ned, don’t be silly. Today, everybody believes it or they are. They adjusting to it? I don’t know, but you’re right. Advisors will survive and they will flourish. But not if they ignore what’s happening.
Craig: But only a small percentage. Michael Kitces.
Ned: Of course.
Craig: He’s an industry guru in the US, did a presentation where he showed how travel agents declined when the internet took off, but not all of them disappeared. About three quarters of them disappeared, but the quarter who were left quadrupled their revenue by leveraging technology. So he was proposing that the same thing could happen to advisors, it’s a similar type of interaction where that would happen. I think that could happen.
How to Fall Into the Bottom 25%
Ned: Exactly. But I think it’s this: I can tell I can 100% tell advisors how to be in the bottom 25%. So I like gambling. I’m a big believer in the odds. So for any advisor, if you want to be in the bottom 25%, don’t do anything. If you have no digital, keep doing that. And I can guarantee you you’re in the bottom 25%. to be in the middle 50%, and I don’t know if Michael will probably tell me I’m completely wrong, I’m just making that up just to something. Because by doing something, listening to podcasts, understanding what digital is, looking at what’s around you. Whether you’ve a website, you’re going digital, looking and not just presuming what taking those steps. It’s not that hard. You’re already above the bottom 25%. to be in the very top and quadruple your revenue, yes, it’s going to take more work, but you know, for quadruple revenue, it’s going to be worth it. Right?
Craig: Indeed. I know there was another company, a marketing firm called Snappy Kraken, and they did a survey of successful marketing campaigns and their reports show, here’s what you need to do to be in the top 25% of advisory firms that are successful in their marketing. And we don’t see enough of that peer review data that says, here’s what you need to do to get here. There’s a lot of “do this, to be successful, do that to be successful”. There’s enough data out there to say step by step, what you should have to do to become successful in whatever industry you’re in.
Ned: So the very last conference I was at before COVID happened was in March in Miami. And I stood, I had a small startup booth next to Snappy Kraken, and I was looking at what they did. So I had my little startup booth. So this was called the BISA event.
Craig: Right, BISA Florida.
Ned: All of the big players there with their big booths. And there was like eight of us, little startup guys, with our little small little pop up booths, and I was next to Snappy Kraken. What I noticed was this, there was like an invisible line in front of our booths where people were scared to step over because then they’d have to talk about something that was weird and different and new. None of us had suits on, and we looked different and on the other side was safe land, which was everybody you know. I understand it too, we’re all humans of habit and you know what, and you’re right. I thought Snappy Kraken’s product was great, but, and again, I say this with all due respect to Snappy Kraken, was it AI go to the moon, change the world stuff? No, it was really good technology built beautifully that could really help advise us.
But what I noticed was only a certain number of advisers would step up to our little startup boosts and talk to the crazy guys standing there. And once they did, the guys on my left was saying, please just use LinkedIn better. So the other booth to my left was, please just use LinkedIn better. That’s all we’re going to do. Is that AI? Is that crazy roboadvisor world? It’s not, and you’d probably be closer to the top 25%. What I saw in reality was that invisible line it’s safer to stay in the world, but that world of safe margins, manual paperwork, slow onboarding time. And here’s the other point you said, I used to be a financial advisor. So before I started long time ago, you call your top clients regularly. No one else ever gets the call. And that model in the world of digital just can’t survive.
Craig: Well, you did that because you couldn’t scale. With digital, you can scale. So you can deliver great experience to all of your clients because it’s done through an algorithm and through software.
Ned: So the difference that we’re seeing in Asia is that investing with RIAs is not common. There are financial advice, but we don’t have that investment mentality. So most people today are coming to investment for the first time. So they come mobile, they come digital. They’re like, this is how it should be. So I think there’s a big difference. Clearly America is the world’s leading investment culture, if I may say, from investment to stock, I think you have the highest level of fund ownership, stock ownership, RIAs, an amazing market. But because of that, you’ve got challenges because you’ve got something that works, but you’ve got something that needs to change. The biggest difference in Singapore and Asia, so in Indonesia, 350 million people, the last kind of recorded number was a quarter of a million of them own a mutual fund.
Craig: That’s microscopic.
Ned: Correct. Out of 350 million. But here’s the difference they can get 6% in the bank on deposits. So I think the biggest difference we see in Asia and wealth management is that it’s mobile first, digital first, for first time investors is absolutely driving it. Whereas in the US it’s changed from legacy to digital,
Craig: Well also in different Asian countries, I’m sure you know this, they invest differently. In Japan it’s more fixed income, whereas in China, it’s more equity driven. It’s part of culture, of how they see the world. Are they more risk takers, like you said, you’re more of a risk taker or are they more stable, conservative?
Ned: In Japan, so I believe this is correct, the largest holder of assets in the world, or one of them is the Japan post office. So you put your money in the post office. In China, yes, they’re of a more trading mentality, and in India, it’s gold. Physical gold is the number one. So you’re right. It’s very different where people will hold their wealth.
Craig: We mentioned briefly AI in passing, I want to talk more about it. Everyone should go check out Bambu’s website, but I’m interested in your dashboard. Can you talk a little bit about that and how you guys are using AI, with your product to differentiate?
Ned: Sure, sure, sure. Of course. So when we started the firm, what we realized is we’re not going to be this firm that says, let us just be this firm that says to you, this is the right new type of portfolio. We said, we’re a technology firm, and we wanted to do that by saying, what can we harness in technology? So the newest and the latest way of deploying from the way we do our microservices, our APIs, our technology stack, we wanted to be leading edge. Separately, the quirky bit of the business, or my history is that my father, my dad has been in neural networks and AI since the sixties.
So my dad started in neural network science in the sixties. He is still incredibly passionate about it today and has worked with many of the greats Jeff Intern and Wolf Singer and still talks a lot about it. And my co founder, Aki, who I mentioned at the beginning of this podcast, is a great thinker. Really understands a lot about AI, and really wanted to do two main things with it. Number one is can we use data and AI to help people achieve their financial goals? So the biggest challenge of investing is the how and the why. The how is quite easy. How do I invest? You take your money, you buy a fund, but why? Why am I saving for retirement? Why do other people do it? Well? How can I achieve that goal?
Part of our AI is helping people achieve their goals. The dashboard you talk about, which is called Intelligent Advisor, we realized that while we could use AI to help the masses, and this is the biggest problem, most wealth managers don’t know the goal of their client. They know that their client holds one of their funds, but did they achieve their goal? They don’t know. So that’s part of a lot of what we do. But then we also realized in the private banking world, this might sound crazy, but it’s even more unsophisticated. They have so much data. So we started working with Refinitiv Thomson Reuters, they said, how can you harness AI to take the massive amounts of data a relationship manager has and create instant talking points? So the dashboard that you see on our website is a tool that we built for Refinitiv to say the greatest challenge is too much data, not too little data. And how can we synthesize that data down so that relationship manager who might have 30 seconds to talk to a client, how can we bring up instant talking points around a range of preset themes? We look at momentum, sentiment, quality, value. And how can we then put together instant talking points so a relationship manager is not lost in reams of data. And again, shows on our website, they can instantly get a talking point and sound intelligent. I don’t want to say private bankers are not intelligent. I don’t want to say financial advisors are not, and I have been one, but the reality is how do you get the right information at the right time? And that’s what we’ve tried to work with on that dashboard. And currently it’s also being used by Standard Chartered as well.
Craig: I like that, that seems to be a differentiator to me. And I have a computer science background, so I’m always more interested in the data behind the business and how you’re using it because I’ve never seen it being used well, and it’s rarely done as you say, to provide instant talking points and I’m seeing more of it now, but still it’s not working really well. How are you making it work better?
Ned: One of the things that we got lucky with was this, when we started this project with Refinitiv, they brought to us 12 CEOs of private banks. We said to them, what is the problem with your RMs? And they said, there’s one statement. They said, our RMs don’t say the right thing at the right time. Then we took the CEOs out of the room and we brought 12 of the relationship managers in the room and said, what is your problem? And they said, we don’t have the data at our hands to say the right things at the right time. So we got really lucky that we got this incredibly synthesized problem statement from people who would pay us to do it. Literally it came to that, obviously we spend a few hours in the room with them. But we got to interate this product with the people who are actually doing it.
The other thing we got lucky with was that on our early team of 12 people, so this product was built by 20 year olds. It was built by a couple of guys who really have no experience in finance. And the greatest thing was they didn’t come with any preset ideas. They didn’t walk in the room with, Oh, this is how private banking tools work. This is how relationship managers do things. They walked in with, Why does it work? Sorry, you want me to do it that way? No, no, no, no, no. You know, they came from a completely different background, 20 year old guys who said, I want to do it the way it makes sense, not the way it was done. And I think that’s what really helped us. We don’t have a roster full of people who have done this before. At Bambu, the vast majority of us have never built wealthtech. And when I say the vast majority, I’m saying close to all of us, and that’s what we think works for us.
Craig: You don’t know the industry, the conventional wisdom that this isn’t the way to do it.
Ned: You know, I try to drown my voice out. I like talking too much, Craig. I need to learn to listen, but I try to let the guys who have never done it, do it because you’re right. It’s a freedom. Like, it sounds a bit cliched, but we’ve been lucky, we’ve built for almost 20 banks some of the world’s biggest. We got very lucky to meet Franklin, they invested in us. Something must be going right, we have 70 people we’ve raised $15 million of funding we’ve worked with people’s disparate is Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank to Franklin to HSBC, we must be doing something right. And I do think it’s the fact, as crazy as it sounds, that we didn’t come to this knowing exactly what we were doing, and we are perhaps doing it a little differently.
Craig: And coming into it, not knowing what you’re doing, you’ve been pretty successful. This has been a great episode and I really appreciate you being on and telling us all this, I could have gone another hour or so, but I like to cut it off at around half hour. This is when people start dropping off. So I want to say goodbye and thank you very much, Ned for being on the program.
Ned: No problem, Craig, thank you for staying up at 9:00 PM at night and one day in the new world at some point I’d love to catch up with you in Singapore, or New Jersey.
Craig: Oh yeah. I’ve been trying to get to Singapore for a couple of years. I’m definitely gonna make it once they open everything back up again and we can meet in person. We will do that.
Ned: Absolutely. Thank you Craig. I appreciate it.