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Glen Sarvady Interviews Tom Beattie at the CUNA Technology Council for BIGcast

Published on Sept 24, 2019

Listen to the Interview on BIGCast 

Interview starts at 10:50.

Transcription:

Glen Sarvady (BigCast) Glenn Sarvady here at the CUNA Technology Council Conference in Chicago with Tom Beattie who gave a presentation this morning. He is with a company he's actually is the company, he started Voleo, which I thought sounded familiar and it turns out they were a Best in Show winner a Finovate back a couple of falls ago. 

Thomas Beattie (Voleo) That's true. Thanks Glen. 

Glen Sarvady It sounds like you're. This is a relatively recent foray into the credit union space. I thought you had a really interesting proposition here. You are an investment platform. 

Thomas Beattie We are. It's a self-directed investment platform that's available white labeled to financial institutions. The idea of collaborating with credit unions is that we're able to leverage their existing member base and enable them to deepen their relationships and access new members. 

Glen Sarvady I know you mentioned that the sticky aspect and as you said you know folks like Robinhood and Acorns, you know the very small starter investor, they've got an interesting proposition why not make sure that you can service those types of members within your own operation. 

Thomas Beattie There's a massive gap between those that are saving with an institution and those that are ready for their wealth products. And really there are no viable options for the credit unions. So we want to make sure that we help them fill that gap and present a compelling new offering that their members will enjoy. And something that's mobile, something that's fresh, and something that builds on the sense of community that credit unions are so well known for. 

Glen Sarvady Now and to that end, this is beyond just a standard investment app. You really, as you use the phrase, you've kind of leveraged the wisdom of crowds. This is really a social investing app, not social, you know social good, but working with investment clubs, with communities to help make decisions. You had a statistic that said that people who take that approach actually outperform. 

Thomas Beattie They do, it's interesting when you look at our members the average performance of the clubs is more than 2 percent better than the average of the members of those clubs. And that's tracked because Voleo's got a very unique gamification mechanism where we help everybody learn. I think the most important thing about collaboration is that people understand it's with those that you know and trust. These are teams of your family, your friends. 

Glen Sarvady You self-select, you not just going out into the wild. 

Thomas Beattie Exactly. And we're expanding on the concept of the traditional investment club, which is about to be launched, to teams, where you're managing your own money but collaborating and sharing those ideas. It's all about control and empowerment and making sure that you're taking strides towards a better financial future. 

Glen Sarvady I kind of like the point also you made about, I guess one might want to call it bragging rights or I told you so or whatever, that you can go back and kind of rewind the scenarios if only you'd listen to me we'd have this much more money. 

Thomas Beattie Well that's right Glen because the reality is that we all make lots of decisions at different times and because Voleos running as a democracy when you look at our investment clubs. When Glen makes a great suggestion and we don't listen to you. Were the only system that lets you track that decision and then lock it off. And that is the power of the wisdom of crowds and the way that you're going to be able to leverage gamification as a credit union to engage your members and keep them coming back. 

Glen Sarvady Another really interesting statistic is you mentioned that over half of your current user base is female which runs counter to a lot of just natural kind of stereotypes. 

Thomas Beattie It does. You definitely don't expect to see half of your user base being female. But there's something about collaboration. There's something about the empowering nature and I think there's something about removing the finance jerks like me that makes it very compelling for women. And we're also noting that they're entering at a time when they're more established in their careers than some of the men who I think come in with a sense of overconfidence as I did when I was in my early 20s. 

Glen Sarvady Have you looked I'm curious do the investment clubs tend to kind of break up by gender? Do they tend to be coed and do you get a lot of all-female clubs? 

Thomas Beattie We have an almost equal mix of coed all male and all-female teams and as of yet, we haven't distinguished the performance. 

Glen Sarvady That would be an interesting academic exercise. 

Thomas Beattie But historically an academic did look at these clubs and there was a diversity premium basically because guys buy guy stocks and girls buy girls stocks. And these are the differences that we're even seeing in our own watch lists. Men are watching more utilities and more technology and women are watching more health care and more consumer goods. 

Glen Sarvady Wow. And your cut your consumer base right now has been more direct. Or have you been marketing through other affinity groups how have you gone about building up your base. 

Thomas Beattie He was direct and organic until the summer when we started our very first ad campaigns. We have been pleased to see that we've doubled our registered user base over the summer as a result. 

Glen Sarvady But again that's direct to consumer not through a financial institution intermediary or any other new fintech or anything like that. 

Thomas Beattie Exactly. And that's the opportunity really when we're able to to acquire these customers directly and we've pulled funds in from hundreds of institutions across the country. None of those credit unions are able to leverage the fact that their members have joined or started teams and we want to help them do that. This is an entirely new channel for them to reach out to that population. 

Glen Sarvady Yeah. And can you say a bit about exactly what the play would be obviously the credit unions your white labeling but what would be the relationship that you're proposing in terms of the member and when they're working with Voleo vs. their credit union. 

Thomas Beattie We're only helping them with the investment piece so if they're looking to get started and preparing for their financial future and they find that this is a compelling alternative for them they'll be able to use a special version of our application that will carry the credit unions branding. It'll be powered by Voleo and the client assets will go with our clearing broker for when they're being invested but they're going to have the opportunity to reach out to all of these individuals and market to them. There is also the case for deposit accounts being opened contemporaneously with them funding their accounts. 

Glen Sarvady So access to data as well.  Based on what they've been interested in, that might trigger some other contact information, communication. 

Thomas Beattie Contextual offerings are something that appeal to members as much as they do to the credit unions. If you're presented with the right offer at the right time that's something that adds value to you. 

Glen Sarvady And again I don't want to overplay the investment club thing. This is a community-based app but it could be used as well just for a standard early entry investor portal as well correct. 

Thomas Beattie Absolutely. We're doing individual account trades for four dollars which is less than most of the major firms. It's not free, if you want free you can go to Robinhood. They're taking advantage of you in other ways. 

Glen SarvadySo I was very intrigued. I wanted to follow up. I appreciate you taking the time that people want to find out more I would have said Voleo. It's Voleo? 

Thomas Beattie myvoleo.com M Y V O L E O. 

Glen Sarvady And that's everything they need to know. Any other way to get in touch with your partnership group or anything like that?

Thomas Beattie Oh absolutely you can reach out to us support@myvoleo.com or you can reach us toll free at 1 866 866 5137. 

Glen Sarvady Tom Beattie at Voleo, thanks very much. 

Thomas Beattie Thanks for having me.