How financial planning will change post COVID-19

Posted on May 27, 2020 by Money FM 89.3

BetterTradeOff CEO, Laurent Bertrand, talks about Up and how financial planning has changed due to the pandemic on Money FM 89.3 with Elliott Danker, Manisha Tank, and Ryan Huang here.

Announcer: Money Fm 89.3 Best of the breakfast huddle.

Elliott Danker: Time now to talk about how we all go through this even without realizing it, and I’m talking about financial planning.

Manisha Tank: Are you the financial planner in your household?

Elliott Danker Yeah, I would say so. Well, I take part in the financial planning, it’s a discussion and we come to an agreement

Manisha Tank: Very good. Well, financial planning is essential. So we put aside funds especially for specific aspects in our lives. And sometime in November last year FinTech startup BetterTradeOff, announced the launch of their online solution that allows people to take control of their future and unleash new possibilities through their better financial decisions.

Elliott Danker: Now it’s named Up the platform simplifies the financial planning process, providing people with a do it yourself tool for exploring and understanding different financial choices and outcomes.

Manisha Tank: But this was before COVID-19 of course, hit the world. So how has financial planning changed due to the pandemic?

Elliott Danker: Have priorities changed? And how will it be different post COVID-19? Let’s find out from our guest on the line Laurent Bertrand who is the CEO and co founder of BetterTradeOff. Laurent, good morning. How are you?

Laurent Bertrand: Good morning. I’m fine. Thank you. Good morning, Manisha.

Manisha Tank: Good morning. Laurent, great to have you on the show. I guess the first question needs to be, just tell us more about up. Can you do that?

Laurent Bertrand: Of course, I’m very happy to do so. So financial planning used to be something complicated, and, frankly, only for the very rich. But now a days when we talk about financial planning, it’s a question of, as you mentioned, COVID-19 happens. So what do I do if things change. Our life are not anymore the kind of study, I work and I retire. It’s more complicated, it’s more open, it’s more exciting, but it also requires a bit more precision. And so the old rule of thumb don’t work anymore. And so that’s why we created the solution. We realized many people need a plan. You can’t just walk through life or you can guess really what you need. And we felt that it was very important. And when COVID-19 hit, that’s the right time to see what would happen if it lose my job what can I do? Should I invest more? All those kinds of question we all have, and I think very important to get some peace of mind because you can plan.

Elliott Danker: Laurent, what’s the target market for this app? And any chance you could share with us how many users you have right now?

Laurent Bertrand: Oh, sure, of course, the target market is in fact, anybody who needs to take care of their finance. So it starts with the students who need to start planning when they get their first paycheck, all the way to pre retiree or retired people who is never too late to plan. In fact, you have many years in front of you. So number of users in 10s of thousand right now in terms of people who are using it. When you look at the range, we have more more millennial and young professional than any other people but we have quite a few, for example, pre retiree and retired people using our solution today. Today is only in Singapore but we have the present solution with large bank and insurance. You know, the country like Switzerland and Hong Kong, UAE, Philippines, you name it.

Elliott Danker: So since this is about financial planning, right, my next question is, is this app free?

Laurent Bertrand: Yes, absolutely. We have nothing to download, you register, you check a few data you see for yourself the first plan and then you refine it. And I think what is really cool is that you can really play with it and see different scenarios. You can see if I buy a house, if I invest, if I do both can afford to do all of these at the same time.

Manisha Tank: I hope you don’t mind me asking. But if it’s free, how do you make money?

Laurent Bertrand: So we do money in two ways, first we don’t only have this consumer version, we do sell the software to large bank and insurance. So which is one stream of revenue for the company The other one is obviously what what a question we get from our user all the time is but where do I find this product? Where could I get help? Because at the end of the day, you might still want to contact a financial planner, to help guide you on the refined questions you can ask. And I think this is where obviously we get some referral fees, and being transparent all of this is regulated in Singapore. So no problem with that.

Manisha Tank: I completely get you I mean it’s not entirely the same but I recently discovered I was paying way too much for my power bill.

Elliott Danker: Let’s not get into that.

Manisha Tank: Let’s not get into that. But the point is, you know, comparing and comparison is very important. And I know that up recently partnered with I compare loan to sort of unravel this dream of home ownership and make it easier to achieve for people here. How important is this?

Laurent Bertrand: I think it’s very important. I mean, when we when you’re talking to a professional who is focusing on the one product, the problem is the conversations is always been one thing but when you when you look at your life, it has to cover everything investment, property, healthcare, so we partner with people like icon panel, for example, to make sure or user have access to regular advice and brokerage possibilities. You can go to the same with Syfe for example. A robo-advisor pretty unique in term of what they do to manage your portfolio, but from How much could you lose as Turkey, which is quite innovative.

Elliott Danker: Oh, so this, you know, with regard to the helping Singaporeans, homeownership wise, it understands how CPF is part of our lives to the impact of how much we have in our CPF as well it takes into account.

Laurent Bertrand: Absolutely, thanks for this question. Because one of the difficulty and that’s what we saw in the market, in general, you can have a simple calculator, as best as you were used to which was XM is complicated because, yes, your CPA and then you have to pay back if you were able to sell your home to all these rules, natively in the system. So you don’t have to really think about it if enabled for you. You use your SRS and story only 10 years to take your money out. And you do have tax implication. So all those kind of rules are embedded in the solution. All you need to do is to look at what does it mean and compare. So we made it extremely easy. You just Drag and drop. And you see when you mean to buy home and other influences on your financial situation short term long term.

Elliott Danker: Perfect.

Manisha Tank: Yeah works well, we’re speaking to Laurent Bertrand, who is the CEO and co founder of better trade off and we’re talking about financial planning and how they’re making it just a little bit easier for everyone. Speaking of which, let’s talk about financial planning amongst Singaporeans. Is it something Singaporeans engage with or not? And who here is engaging in financial planning?

Laurent Bertrand: So I think that when you look at the users, and when you look at the reception to online advertisement, is quite interesting. So a lot of people have this mistaken view that financial planning is not for me, it’s only for the rich, you won’t make a difference. But for us, if you go on, our website, it takes about five minutes to answer minimum data you need to see a first plan, and then you start understanding where the consequences are. And I think a lot of people we talked to and when we did market survey What we saw is, people want to know what my situation is. They want to know their options. So we all engage in financial planning one way or the other, we have to, is that until you didn’t have the tool, or it was quite complicated, or most people would not reach to an advisor who could have them.

Elliott Danker: What are your thoughts on DIY financial planning? I think a lot of young people when they tend to do a lot more research, they might prefer this, what are your thoughts on it?

Laurent Bertrand: I think that we do it, as I said before, so I’d rather do it with a good tool, like Up. And when you see the young people obviously are more attuned to using these do it yourself tools. And that’s, that’s very clear. They’re more tech savvy, but it doesn’t mean that other generation are doing either and in fact, I have quite a few friends in Rotary who happen to be very tech savvy, even if they’re retired. So I do believe that the do it yourself is probably a very good start and maybe enough for you But at the end of the day, you might also want to have advice or you might want to execute. And that’s why we have partners like a iCompareLoan and Syfe so that you can execute your plan.

Elliott Danker: Like a hybrid.

Manisha Tank: Yeah.

Laurent Bertrand: Yeah. Hybrid model. I don’t think either or, it’s and.

Manisha Tank: Okay. Let’s talk about life before COVID and after COVID Okay. Have you seen a difference in the way that people, in what people are aspiring to or what people are planning for free COVID-19 as compared to post COVID-19?

Laurent Bertrand: Yeah, I mean, there is a clear challenge of the type of simulation people do with Up, because that’s the power of it. You can you can see what if,what if you can play with if. So we have for example, what is happening if I lose my job, it used to be or something like your sabbatical and you can plan for it nowadays, I think people just want to say can afford to buy a house. What if I lose a job and so you see the scenario is much more prevalent. We have also something for simulating what would happen if I were to die who’s taking care of my family? It’s unfortunate. That Covid happned right now. And it’s, it’s a reality, something that can happen. I think most people, most of us know realize that you have to plan your life and see how you could protect your plan, protect your family. And that’s part of the solution. Obviously, the only solution, but that has changed. I think for most people, a message I would like to bring is test it, check it and continue planning for the better life because you have many more options that you think and that’s kind of a message we want to have. You can do so many more things, but is why it’s wise probably to make sure you’re safe and protected and that your family’s protected. Anything happened

Elliott Danker: sort of like a consolidation you know, you rally around everyone at home right now and take care of that, that unit that you have, but Laurent to wrap things up what if I am a fresh graduate, and then I’m in this world right now I’ve just come out supposed to get a job COVID-19 hit, but I do need to plan my life. I do need to plan my finances. What would your advice be to this young person starting out in life.

Laurent Bertrand: So as usual, just make sure that you’re putting money aside every month really pay yourself first. And if you go on, what you can do is see what would happen over time because you have to put some money aside for your down payment of your HGD or your condo. If you if you’re a good career, you need to think about what would happen in case if I lose a job. And I think overall, what you can do is to plan early and start investing early and one of the key points for most people the reason why we don’t act, I don’t know if it’s efficient, I don’t know if he’s going to help and that’s that from students a lot of time. But if you do it on a solution, it’s easy to see how compounding works for you. It’s so huge. I mean, I think Einstein said his hates word wonder was compounding and you can see for yourself that maybe the end realizing that you know, can make such a difference over the longterm.

Elliott Danker: We’ve been speaking with Laurent Bertrand, who is the CEO and co founder of BetterTradeOff. Laurent, thank you so much for your time this morning. You take care and stay safe.

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Listen to the interview here.