Finance Indaba 2017: Purple Group eager to build on success
“We have a completely different approach to financial services. We take what we do seriously, but not ourselves, so we have a lot of fun with our customers. Despite the fact that investment is a very serious discussion, it doesn’t need to be a boring and staid experience," says Charles Savage, CEO of Purple Group, a gold partner at the Finance Indaba Africa 2017 on 12 and 13 October 2017 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.
Over the next few months, we will be chatting to all the Indaba partners, asking them why they are joining the event, what they will be showcasing and what their plans are for the future.
"It was a fantastic event and a great platform to showcase South African and African fintech. It brought the right audience and created the right atmosphere. It was a complete experience that was really impressive, considering that this was the first edition."
How did it feel to win the overall award at the African Fintech Awards?
"I can even describe how good it was! We want to win, but we had no expectations and it is so great to receive external recognition for the work that we are doing. The platform did exactly that for us."
It is part of your marketing strategy to target awards?
"It is not part of our marketing plan per se, but what is part of it is to understand what our clients and consumers are saying about our business. In an award process you get a great reference for how you are doing. People are evaluating your strategy, products and services and providing constructive feedback. In the worst-case scenario, you learn a lot. In the best case, which is what we achieved, you learn and are recognised. It is part of our strategy to expose the platform to get more and more people in to leverage what they say and build it into our future strategies."
What are your plans for 2017?
"We have just launched our asset management product, through which customers can have a managed portfolio delivered by an asset manager but leveraging all the convenient aspects of the EasyEquities platform. A big part of our strategy is to grow that participation, bringing more customers and asset managers onto the platform. The second goal is to cross the divide from discretionary investments into retirement structures - RAs, pension and preservation funds, living annuities - to provide a one-stop shop for all investing requirements."
What will you be showcasing at the Finance Indaba 2017?
"Extended the product offering to international shares, which is really exciting and bringing in international asset managers as well. The retirement products are certainly going to be disruptive and innovative and we will showcase them at the event. We are also going to have a robo-advisory solution on show and beyond that, there will be other things, because 20% of our ideas and what we want to do come from engagement with our customers and their suggestions."
What has been the key to your success in difficult economic times?
"We have a completely different approach to financial services. We take what we do seriously, but not ourselves, so we have a lot of fun with our customers. Despite the fact that investment is a very serious discussion, it doesn't need to be a boring and staid experience. For us, it is the fact that we have made engagement easy and fun and non-intimidating. All of those aspects make it easier for us to grow the platform in difficult circumstances."
What do you say to people who question whether the layperson is capable of managing their own portfolio?
"This is an old world approach. Think about the access to information we have today and the tech advancements delivered to your cellphone and compare that to the world your asset manager was operating in 30 years ago. The asset manager was capable of managing your money without the benefit of advanced technology, yet they will tell you that you are not capable of managing your own money today. It's an old world principle. We can demonstrably show that our customers are doing very well in managing their own portfolios on the platform despite economic challenges."
Do you see any regulatory challenges ahead in view of your product launches?
"If you're going to be disruptive, you're always going to be challenging regulations. Our approach was to work with the regulator so they are aware of what we are doing. This doesn't mean that regulatory challenges won't surface. They are part of the financial service landscape and always will be. Your strategy needs to take this into account and embrace regulation so that you have the best IT and people in this regard and don't see regulations as a barrier, but rather as an enabler."