Former Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management CEO Neil Darke is making it his mission to help millennials, rocked by financial uncertainty (student loans, pensions, house prices), to find the financial path to the life they truly want by launching a fintech start-up called The Lifehouse.Co (www.thelifehouse.co).
Delving into the millennial mindset and coaching young people to combine new financial habits and know-how with emotional understanding, Darke hopes to empower Young Britain with a series of mobile applications and become the ‘financial adviser in your pocket’.
“The financial advice/wealth management industry does not cater for young people – they’re ‘uneconomic’,” he said, “a point clearly illustrated on the industry trade body’s website where the three featured case studies tell the stories of people aged 48, 57 and 76. Where’s the case study for the 25- or 35-year-old?”
Darke has worked in a number of large institutions across the financial markets spectrum – in asset management, stockbroking and most latterly private wealth management, constantly looking to bring innovation to outmoded practices. Drawing inspiration from the latest thinking in behavioural psychology, sports science and the agile software development methodology, The Lifehouse.Co aims to make personal finance accessible, affordable and engaging.
“The truth is many people’s financial needs are not particularly complicated, and simply getting the basics right and developing healthy financial habits will take you a long way towards your goals,” added Darke. “People used to be taught how to save and budget, but these days they are simply a loan target and prey to ever more sophisticated marketing strategies that use their behavioural biases against them.”
Darke believes technology has a huge role to play in delivering automated tools that help and engage young people in personal finance in ways that existing businesses have failed to do.
“The development of robo-advisors is a great start,” he continued, “but we also have to help young people take control over their finances before they can become investors.”
To help them stay on track with their values, The Lifehouse.Co will be donating a percentage of any profits to charities that promote financial education or help alleviate financial distress. The Lifehouse.Co’s initial products and services will be free and are currently in beta.
The Lifehouse.Co is currently looking for UK beta-testers, aged 25-30 with an IOS smartphone, who can pre-register at www.thelifehouse.co to take part.
So how does Darke see the business keeping itself financially stable?
“Like so many online start-ups, we know that as the community grows, the revenue opportunities will come,” he replied. “We will require further funding to fulfill the development of our planned products and services but, for now, we just want to get our customers on the right path.”