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Investing smartly with Umushroom's co-founders Luba Schoenig and Tonia Zimmermann

by Rudolf Falat
August 31st 2021

Luba Schoenig and Tonia Zimmermann, co-founders of... More

voice of Fintech. Okay, welcome to voice of Fintech, a podcast mapping out the swiss and global fintech scene connecting fintech enthusiasts with startups, incubators accelerators, business angels and VCS and incumbents interested in partnerships. Voice of intake will help you navigate the Fintech ecosystem here. You can listen to the startup, found the stories what investors and incumbents are looking for when dealing with startups and find out more about resources provided by incubators and accelerators. My name is Rudy followed and I'll be hosting this podcast. Yeah. Mhm Hello and welcome to voice of Fintech Today. We're joined by luba antonia two co founders and alumni of Credit Suisse who started an interactive investment platform and we're going to talk about why do we need it? What does it do? Why is it making your life better as a client and what's new in this space? So I'm very curious what blue by Antonio are up to. So welcome. How are you today? Hello Rudy, thank you kindly for welcoming us to the today's session.

I'm Lucas unique, the co founder of your mushroom and very happy to say some few words about my background. I'm originally Bulgarian came to study in Switzerland my first step in my career with investment banking. It was back then the big time of structure products and exotic derivatives. So I started working for Lehman Brothers on the field of structured products. Later on I moved to credits fist when I met Tonia in the team of structure products. I stayed there some few years and the my journey goes then all the way to client facing growth and client advisory rose. I worked for a group called solution partners at Credit Suisse and after all, nine years of working for Credit Suisse. I joined you this bear. The last five years before our venture started, I was setting a team or Co 2 200 with solutions for Julius Baer covering the largest clients of the bank. So in a nutshell, I've seen all the way from producing investment ideas to placing them to the clients.

Great Antonio how did you get to do what you do today as well? You met at Credit Suisse but I think your journey was a little bit different. Of course. Right, Absolutely. And hello, also from my side. So as I said, I'm Tony the second of the two founders. I'm Swiss, I studied in Song call in Economics and finance. After my graduation in 2000 and three, I moved to London. I worked for jP morgan and Goldman Sachs in the structuring and sales for derivatives and 07 I moved back to Switzerland. I turned credit suisse and I had different roles over the past years. So at the beginning I was responsible for part of the structure products business. Later I moved on to the mutual fund site there. I was responsible for the fund analysts and fund advisors and for the past years with credit Suisse I was responsible for the investment advisers and wealth consultants and investment topics dedicated to the largest clients of the swiss plane and thats Lopez said about 1.5 year ago we started you mushroom even though we were discussing opportunities already in the past.

But then it was actually the point in time where we officially started what is you mushroom? Why is it needed and why now? Maybe let's rewind a bit and explain how it works in a big bank. Let's say that if I'm a client of a big bank and I'd like to invest in funds, how does it work today? And then how would it work if you mushroom comes into play? As you mentioned, it's an interactive investments election platform. And why is it needed? If you look at them, I'll start with the development of Fintech and what has been done first, which fields of business have been changed first And if you look typically the Fintech start started initially changing basic banking brokerage later on, it moved to a field called discretionary management, discretionary mandates or portfolio management as it those are the fields which naturally are very prone to implementing technology in a quick and easy way where we are settled in this map of in text if you want.

So we put plots the context in the context of banking services is in the field of investment advisory. It's a bit more complicated at first and what were effectively revolutionizing is the way investment advisories than those nowadays. Our mission is to create a global market. And the favorite analogy of Tony is that we are the trip advisor for investments. My favorite analogy is that we are amazon for investments implementing the idea that we are actually a global market where all producer investment ideas, banks, asset managers, family offices, but also regular users can meet and exchange. And the other mission which we, which is very dear to our heart is that we want to change the way how people think and feel about investing and how they take investment advice. We want to give the feeling that it's something easy, intuitive and not cumbersome and that you don't have to dig dive through a general of information. All right. But again, let's focus on the customer and the customer journey.

Right. So how does the contrast with having a good relationship or relationship manager Investment advisor at the bank currently? Right, so I have some savings I'd like to invest. How does it work today? And how would it work if you mushroom is implemented? Really a very interesting question and maybe to clarify at the beginning, we are by nature a B2C platform but we have to be elements. So you can imagine that we function in a way like linkedin or facebook Whereby essence the platform is B2C but there are some some elements which are used by professional clients in to come back to your other part of the question whether the relationship manager or the exchange with with the bank is more important or using the platform. What are the differences? We see you mushroom rather as a in addition to having a relationship manager and you also have to imagine that many clients of a bank, they don't really get an in an investment advisor or relationship manager because they are just too small because they don't have maybe plus minus three million with the bank.

All the clients which don't have a relationship manager, the kind of deliver this digital in investment advisor or support to really find investments which suit my needs and my my goals etcetera. And if you have a relationship manager and you mushroom is a very handy tool to prepare yourself for your meeting with the relationship manager and we are convinced that having a better preparation, you can also get much more out of a meeting with the bank than previously. Exactly. I think I've seen some tools in the market, you could call it like a virtual portfolio manager as well. Right? So you play with that portfolio yourself and then you go and meet your relationship manager. Sometimes you can have them also if you are not necessarily a millionaire, but I think the frequency of the contact and the attention that you get is obviously a lot lower. So understood. So you can prepare for for the meeting, prepare for the thinking then Still, if you could explain how would that differ versus let's say a robo advisory because a lot of the people say look I went to a bank and I had x 1000 to invest in Switzerland.

They didn't really want to talk to me. So I started a robo advisory firm really because of this. Right? So how is your platform different and that's a very important point. And as luba was explaining at the beginning in banking, we differentiate between discretionary mandates and advisory mandates. Whereas for discretionary mandates as a client, you give the money to the bank and you tell the bank do whatever you believe it's best for me and then report on on the, on the performance on the advisory side. The client is always involved in the investment decisions. So coming back to global advisors, robo advisors are the disruptor for discretionary mandates. So as a client, I also give the money to the Robo advisor and the Robo advisor invests and reports back on performance. We as you mushroom we are active on the advisory side. So we encourage clients basically to take care of their investments and to to take their own decisions and we help the clients to really take these decisions because with your mushroom or for us the core of the solution wasn't a search engine for investment solutions which is really easy to handle.

So most of the clients or at least this is our experience. Most of the clients they have an idea what they want to achieve with the money which are the topics they would like to invest but I don't know how to translate this, this idea of where to invest into real investment solutions. So your mushroom helps you to find very easily the suitable investment solutions for you. And it also helps you to take a decision whether a certain investment is that really the best choice for you or not? Because we are delivering the information about a certain investment in a completely new way. We don't deliver just the table of key figures like basically all other investment platforms are doing, we are displaying the information in a way which is very easy to grasp and we're also delivering more qualitative information summarized in a very easy way to absorb so that you can very quickly decide whether an investment could be suitable for. You are interesting for you and once you decide, well that could be something that we deliver all the key figures, charts, etcetera, in addition and you can dig into more details and then the last part which we which will include as well as the community so on our platform.

And this brings me back to the analogy to Trip advisor, you can rate investments as a user and of course you can also relate on on ratings of other users and you get this additional confirmation whether something could be good for you or maybe rather or not. And in this sense bringing all these components together. It's really a way how I can be involved in the investment decision and really take this responsibility bit on my own or be together with the bank and this is a completely different philosophy and also approach in comparison to global advisors who just take over everything understood, brilliant. So that is very cool. Now you say your interactive investment platforms. So could you explain this a little bit more and paint a picture? How does that interaction works? Because if I went to a relationship manager, we talked about some investments, they would come with a print out of a pdf and if I didn't like something, he would have to go back to the office, redo it and then come back and we would need to reschedule the meeting.

I think that was the lack of interactivity that I missed sometimes. So how would it work with your platform? Uh, you said it's B two C. Right. So would people just log in whenever, wherever on a pc or even on an app and, and and create a simulated portfolios or how how does that work? So what you do is basically it's a web application. Right. And we can, you can also use it from the mobile, we currently don't have yet an app. It's going to be developed in the coming months, but it's very easy to use the vote from computer and from a mobile phone. So you basically go on www dot mushroom dot com. Open an account and from their own. You can start your journey, you can register, it's super easy to register and you can select you can build a share shares portfolio. You can we have a fantastic very tailored filters which allow you to translate, you'll need to invest perspective in a respective criteria.

You can say I want to build a portfolio with the biggest text in with the biggest text talks with with certain dividend eO with certain market capitalization from certain geography etcetera etcetera. You get the picture now you build that portfolio and you can share it on your profile page, you can put it in the public and profile and basically everyone who is using your mushroom will see it. People can start rating you, they can start writing commands. We have a very structured way how we write commands and how well let people write commands and right because we want the disinformation is usable for everyone and it's immediately visible. Typically when you have community ratings very often it's just lose and it's just not in a particular structure from now. I as a portfolio manager in that role can just write back to command if if you write me for example well fantastic selection, where will you include for example Tesla then I can return a command to death.

And that's how you create a dialogue. That's how you create an exchange. If you take the typical advisory process to come back to your question in banking. Yes you're right. Normally we will get a selection of stocks which is given from our research for constructive portfolio and our research in banking will never get typically feedback. How was that perceived by clients? Yes or no. Here we basically break the value chain and shortcuts the communication channels by allowing the petroleum constructor. It could be me as a person, it could be a professional portfolio manager, it could be an investment advisor by bank depending on the usage of the platform to immediately get commands from the direct users or for the people who are reviewing the portfolio. Thank you. So what's the technology behind it? We were very lucky to be able to literally build a platform and scratch and we use top notch technology which is typically used for building platform businesses of our kind where we put a lot of effort is you can't figure the data which we're presenting to our clients and to our users and we use different providers.

We cover also very different aspects of information. We cover research analyst view because we want to present to our clients what the specialists of the industry thing. We cover social media sentiment because we want to summarize to our clients what's the perception of particular stock in the professional press without making them read two tons of article. If they find it interesting obviously they can go on and then third aspect is as mentioned, the community aspect in the community ratings. That's what other people think or what other people put their money into. So for that we've picked up can have the respective technologies, the respective data provider and where technology helped us a lot is obviously through the Api which makes transfer of data very easy and very handy and where technology also helped a lot is on what Tony was mentioning before is our we're having we call it our Ferrari sir, changing where you can very easily find what you're looking for. That's where technology helped a lot. And of course the whole connectivity about sharing, commenting, posting those investing investments go facebook or investment goes instagram kind of features as well.

All right. Do you put this all together? So how do you define a superior performance from using your part platform? Right. What are you, what are your metrics or how old is your philosophy? When when do you when would you say that the clients got a great outcome from using the platform? I'm not sure whether this is a question whether you get a superior performance in respect to portfolio performance in the end. Nobody has the crystal ball right. But our conviction is that that we help investors to really place the money where they are, where they have interest in, where they are convinced that the money should be put put on and not just follow some guidance by the banks which can which can also be very helpful and could be done in parallel. But in the end, our ambition is to help people how to translate a certain idea in what they want to invest into real products which suit the requirements.

And in the end, hopefully this will also leading to better performance. But it will also help people to really think through maybe tougher times because they are convinced in in the idea of the investment, in the in the investment manager etcetera. And they are not distracted by short term market movements very well. And you mentioned clients a little bit. So who is your target segment? We started with how we constructed. Right. And we said that we have a very strong B2 C angle And that we also have a B2B angled On the B- two C side, basically everyone above 18 is our client. Our enumeration is not on assets and management, which is the typical banking way of pricing services, it's basically of subscription, it's in a dynamo, as we know it from the netflix is of this world. And on the B two B side, as as we mentioned, we are building a market, we have all the typical providers of investment ideas beat in the form of a fund, in the form of a portfolio, in the form of an E T F.

Those are banks, those are asset managers and those are also multi family offices. But those are also brokers because brokers have a huge amount of clients who are not advice where what we call him. Banking's are gone self directed or execution only. And a novel I like that is super powerful and really maybe one important topic to tackle also here we mentioned at the beginning we are an investment selection platform if you want to trade and that's something which was very important. It was a strategic decision for us. The way to trade going forward would be that you built a portfolio with you mushroom and then you execute it through your broker or bank of preference. We deliberately targeted decision. We don't want to replicate another broker or a bank. And what you folks to figure out is that people have a very strong belief in banking and trust in banking when it comes to safekeeping. So why make people change something which they like add rather on what they would need? And Vladimir's what they're currently also already happily using.

So trading with the preferred broker and banker and selecting with us. It's not yet automated but we are planning to implement that in the next couple of months. Wonderful. So what is the next milestone that you that you are targeting? One of the big milestones we actually had last week when we launched the alpha version of our platform. And when we also started our marketing campaign. So this was indeed a very big step which we worked for for the last 18 months and having a lot more into the future than of course we have multiple features which we would like to include in the platforms of the development. On the technical side we spoke about the geographical expansion which were already planning and then of course also on the client side. We at the moment, as we said, we are talking to certain institutional clients, we're expanding our B two C universe and there we are we have a very long pipeline and the communication and the conversation with these kind of clients is definitely extremely important to us and we will dedicate a lot of time to that in the coming weeks and months and also for the team.

Of course not only luba and myself can do that. We are in the meanwhile a team of almost nine people. So when I am people but not all of them are working 100% for your mushroom. A third partner in the team who is responsible for communication and marketing. We have a developer here in Switzerland who is mainly dealing with the financial data which is a very big topic. And then we have our our programmers in Bulgaria which we're working together and luba already mentioned that a bit earlier but also here the team in Switzerland. We are expanding at the moment. So we are looking to get more support on the tech side also here on the ground. And and they're also looking for more support on the marketing side. Yeah, I would say these are the biggest changes which are coming up over the next weeks. Well, wonderful to hear. So everyone listening remember hiring brilliant. Where can interested parties reach you? What's the best way to find out more about you mushroom? And the best way is you visit our webpage, you mushroom dot com or if you have something specific to get in touch with us, then you can use our email address.

It's hello at your mushroom dot com. You can also follow us on all the different social media channels like linked in instagram and facebook. Great stuff. Well, thank you very much loved by Antonio and good luck to you mushroom. Okay, okay. Thank you for listening to voice of Fintech podcast if you haven't already check out Also Voice of Fintech dot com. Where you will find all the episodes and additional resources related to the podcast. You can also subscribe to voice of integer on apple podcasts, Spotify, google or any other podcast app that you like. If you have any suggestions on the topics or guests or how to make this podcast better for you. Please email us at info at Voice of intake dot com. Happy to hear from you. Thank you

Investing smartly with Umushroom's co-founders Luba Schoenig and Tonia Zimmermann
Investing smartly with Umushroom's co-founders Luba Schoenig and Tonia Zimmermann
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