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A decade on: How Lehman’s collapse influences me as a Fintech Co-Founder

Giovanni Daprà, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Moneyfarm

I can still remember my time on the trading floor during Lehman’s collapse with clarity and, a decade on, the global financial crisis still influences my role as a Co-Founder and Chief Executive of a digital wealth manager.

I knew Lehman’s history well. Watching such a heavyweight in the financial world crumble right in front of my eyes made me realise that there was another, better way to do finance.

The legacy of the financial crisis

In the wake of the financial crisis, ordinary people became disillusioned with the traditional financial services industry and people started demanding more from their providers and platforms. This, I believe, is a good thing.

Coinciding with this is a large shift in mindset, innovators are using technology to reimagine the relationship people have with their money.

This is one of the reasons Moneyfarm exists. We knew things were going to be different after the financial crisis, and everyone involved believes in a better way of managing money that, quite simply,  puts the customer first.

Unfortunately, every crisis spawns mistrust, and 2008 was no different. The aggressive backlash against the financial industry masks the good finance can do to financial security.

When done right, investing allows savers to take control of their financial future. It’s up to companies like Moneyfarm to help people make the right decisions with their money. We’re regulated to give investment advice and believe this is crucial to help empower people financially.

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Why we founded Moneyfarm

Paolo and I knew from our previous jobs that in the run-up to the crisis, the financial industry fed on information asymmetry. This helped create an environment where over-complicated solutions to very simple problems were sold to the people trusting you to manage their money for them.

I use the pain felt in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, the bruises left years after and the crucial lessons learnt as an anchoring to all Moneyfarm employees to champion a new way of doing things. The customer always comes first.

It’s up to me and Paolo as co-founders to ensure that, as a company, we don’t have short memories. It’s important we’re reminded every day that Moneyfarm is built on different principles to those that led to the crisis.

Putting the customer first and championing transparency, simplicity and excellence is the cornerstone of our business. Promoting innovation as a force for good in finance is key.

Launching a start-up in the wake of the financial crisis

When you launch a start-up, whether in the wake of a crisis or not, you start with an idea, or a problem that needs to be solved. You then build the product to support this solution. In our case, this is a solution to help people invest.

The first part was the easiest; all you have to do is focus on building a great product. After launching Moneyfarm, Paolo and myself were taken aback by the demand for a new innovative way of investing. It was then that we realised we had an even bigger opportunity than we first thought.

I can look back over the last six years and appreciate the rate of growth we’ve experienced. Moneyfarm now has 100 employees operating across two countries.

We know we’re at the beginning of our journey to help drive a change in the relationship ordinary people have with their money. As long as the industry continues to use technology-led innovation to drive change, we’ll see the largest transformation of the sector for a generation.  I’m proud to even be a small part in helping financially empower Europe.

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