Almost every human being has a tendency to save his/her hard-earned money for any reason, say for a comfortable retirement, a new home, or their children’s education. This makes them thinking about investing the same money. But due to the presence of a large number of investment firms, they get overwhelmed with the options available to them. Due to the lack of awareness, they become the victims of mis-selling. This is one of the well-known facts that no one has time to think like an expert and plan for the investment. This is where Goalwise comes into the existence.
Know the Founders
IIT Kanpur alumni, Swapnil Bhaskar and Ankur Choudhary along with Savitri, an alumni of St. Xavier’s, Mumbai, created Goalwise in 2015 – India’s first goal-based investment platform, with an aim to simplify personal finance and investing, while preventing mis-selling. Goalwise.com is an online investment service that helps its users invest according to their financial goals.
The idea of a rarest concept
Investing is like exercising – everyone wants to do it, but no one follows through. One has to set goals and systematically work towards them, and investing in goals has proven to give better results than ad-hoc investments. Goalwise monitors its user’s goals and investments and allows them to create and invest towards those goals. Moreover, their scientific investment strategies help their users avoid undue risk while getting better returns and shield themselves from human judgment errors. In its process, once the users choose their goals, Goalwise creates an investment plan for each specific goal, intelligently allocates savings according to the user’s risk level, invests in scientifically chosen, consistently performing Mutual Funds and tracks the investments till the users achieve the goal, right till the end. Goalwise does not charge users for advisory and investment services. According to the co-founders, “It’s like having an intelligent personal investment manager available online for free.”
Making dream a reality
Converting start-up dreams into the reality is not an easy task. Other than Ankur, no one had any prior experience in the start-up. He tried his hand at entrepreneurship with a poker start-up a few years ago and wasn’t successful. But he learned the importance of establishing a good system for getting succeed. This thought became the underpinning of his investment philosophy. Swapnil with his retail banking experience and Savitri (with her background in education research) took up the challenge, and joined the team. Currently, the team consists of nine extremely talented and dedicated members.
Growing in the Environment of Opportunities and Challenges
Undoubtedly, the company foresees its future as a bright one. In a recent interview, the company sources said that “Indians have around $50bn in mutual fund equity assets. This is almost 2.5% of GDP. Interestingly, this percentage is around 47% for matured market like the US. This implies a huge opportunity for us to focus on an under-penetrated economy that is simultaneously the fastest growing in the world.”
Along with the opportunities, the company had recognised these three major, interlinked challenges; a lack of customer awareness, systemic mis-selling, and subsequent distrust. Lack of time makes people unaware about the finance. The information is not organized or readily accessible. Agents, whether individual or institutional, take advantage of this ignorance to sell products that earn them the largest commissions, instead of addressing the customer’s needs. When people realise they’ve been short-changed, they shy away from investing, to the detriment of their long-term financial health.
But, Goalwise intends to spread financial awareness through its blog, making the numerous aspects of investing transparent and easy to understand. It makes calls to its users to explain the entire investing process when they sign up, irrespective of whether they ask for it. They can track each of their investments in detail through their dashboards. Additionally, the company declares the brokerage receive from all Mutual Fund Companies on its website. These percentages are very similar across all the Mutual Funds that Goalwise offers, which eliminates bias and allows it to recommend only the best-performing ones to its users. With these initiatives, the company hopes to build trust with its users to help them achieve their financial goals. It makes Goalwise being the most trusted company rather than being the biggest.
Competition and competitive advantage
Irrespective of the size and scale of operations, every business has to face its competitors. Few of the players in the FinTech space are Scripbox, FundsIndia and MyUniverse. However, these are not main competitors of Goalwise. The real competition is with the insurance industry, and its flagship ULIP and Endowment plans in particular, which misinforms customers about the products, and lavishes such ridiculous commissions (as high as 40% of the policy premium) on agents who sell them.
Goalwise is fortunate enough that none of the other players in FinTech space is offering users the kind of personalized investment advisory (a competitive advantage) that it does. Nobody asks users about the reason for investing! The purpose of the investment is crucial in deciding where and how one should invest. For instance, if someone wants to invest for an emergency fund, debt Mutual Funds or Fixed Deposits, and not equity, are the right investments, and someone should tell them that.
Additionally, all other firms are lacking in areas such as investment tracking, automatic rebalancing, individualized asset allocation, and performance-based selection of mutual funds, which are all part of the core Goalwise advisory. As per the research, rebalancing systematically can earn us additional/more returns. Unlike Goalwise, with its GoalSense ™ technology, none of the other online platforms ensure that a user’s financial goals are really achieved, and that’s the whole point when one decides to invest in the first place!
Goals to be achieved by Goalwise
Although, there is a tremondous potential in the personal finance space in India, most people don’t have the time or the expertise to manage their personal finances in a systematic way. Many ignore it either because they can’t afford the financial advisors, or due to lack of trust.
Goalwise wants to fill this gap and address this problem faced by millions of Indians, who are forced to see the potential of their hard-earned money go to waste due to poorly informed choices. This is the reason behind creating an online automated platform that can serve the needs of a wide swathe of users across the country while minimizing cost. In addition to individual users, the company is also reaching out to Independent Financial Advisors (IFAs) who are already advocating a goal-based investment approach to their clients, but who may not have the technological platform and educational tools necessary to strategize and execute effectively.
In this process, Goalwise team had a soft-launch phase from February-April, this year focusing on tax-saving goals. The company witnessed hundreds of users from diverse age groups registered on its platform. Most of them made one-time investments in Equity Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS) to cover their IT deduction limits under Section 80C, while some even started monthly SIP plans with as little as Rs. 1,000. These users came from varied employment backgrounds, and included government and defence officials, as well as employees of top firms such as Google, McKinsey, Oracle and Reliance.
Based on this charismatic success during this period, recently Goalwise closed funding of $1 million from undisclosed Angel Investors, which is said to be used primarily to scale up the technology, analytics and operations efforts.