#inspiredbystories

Start-Up Diaries: FINANCE & Stories

Maria Mann is the founder of FINANCE & Stories. She is the management consultant and app developer. Her aim is to support and empower women in their finances

How the idea started

I used to work as a consultant, leading IT projects and developing web applications for corporate banks. One morning, as I was waiting for my train to Frankfurt, I saw how an elderly lady was collecting plastic bottles from the garbage. Literally, I was shocked. I thought to myself – here I am developing all these tools for the financial industry. Why not using the same tools for the benefits of women?

Our mission

We want to support women in their finances, to become more financially savvy. In Germany, only 21 percent of women participate in the capital markets, either in savings plans, in fonds or in shares. These numbers are really low, but understandable. As women earn less, they have fewer financial resources to invest. As they invest less, they have less wealth. It all starts with lower wages and salaries, but it doesn’t stop there. We want to break through this circle. Our mission is to close the gender investment gap and by doing so, to help to prevent old age poverty.

What’s special about our product

We have developed the first investment app in Europe that is uniquely designed for women. It’s easy to understand, flexible and affordable for every woman. Our app analyzes the customer’s financial situation and suggests a suitable investment portfolio, based on her personal goals she wants to reach in the future. We offer a full-service solution, including portfolio monitoring, a professional risk management and an investment account. With us, women can invest in a globally diversified portfolio of ETFs, in iShares by Blackrock. As we want to break down barriers, women investing with us can start at the amount they are comfortable with and capable of – even with as little as 50 euro. Most women tend to have very different career and life phases, so we keep the product flexible: For instance, our customers can withdraw their money at any time and there’s no cancelation period. You always have full access to your money.

First milestones

The biggest milestone was building up the company itself! Getting all the legal paperwork ready, setting up a business model and the technological infrastructure that now allows us to offer a comprehensive, all-in-one service including a professional risk management. To achieve this, we are partnering with a bank and an asset management company. As we launched in summer 2019 a first success is, that by now, without lots of marketing efforts, we manage more than 267.000 Euro in assets for our clients. We are really grateful for this.

Next steps

We are investing in our team and marketing. Now, after the soft launch, it’s time to start to grow and to scale the company. We are currently hiring, so if you’re looking for an exciting position in marketing, please get in touch! At the moment, there are four of us and we hope to be a core team of six to eight people within the next weeks. Not to forget, the great support by the team members at our partner companies, of course.

What we have underestimated

Everything takes so much longer than planned or expected! We simply aim to become a little bit better every day. Even if it’s only a little bit here and there, we try to improve daily. Step by step, all these little pieces will make up for a bigger picture. Just keep going and keep moving forward. In the end, it’s all about execution and consistency.

Our biggest goals

I would be really happy, if in a couple of years women will talk about finances just like they do about last night’s date or about fashion and beauty. We have to talk about money more often, because if we don’t – nothing will change. We won’t get used to negotiating our wages or salaries, if we don’t talk about it. We won’t feel comfortable with investing, if we don’t talk about it. My dream scenario is, that in two or three years, I will be sitting in a café listening to the women at the table next to me discussing their financial strategies. That would be amazing! We want to become the No. 1 reference point for finances for women, so they have a high-quality resource they can rely on. To achieve that, we will provide more and more content for self-education on our website. Education in finances builds the ground. As for now, we already offer an easy to use solution, so women can start investing immediately.

My advice for future entrepreneurs

Keep going. Even if things are tough and people advise you to quit, or you think something is not doable. Believe in yourself and move on. Everything is figuroutable. The positive feedback from your first customers will be your best reward.

Three take-aways for investing

1) Risk diversification: Split your investment, create a portfolio of shares or ETFs. By diversifying your portfolio, you minimize your risk.

2) Rebalancing: Occasionally there are political or economic changes causing ups and downs within your portfolio. If you use a service that includes portfolio monitoring and risk management according to KWG §32 (Banking Act), then your portfolio will be re-balanced and brought back on track. So, check for KWG §32 in the small print.

3) Compare costs: The lower your cost, the higher your returns. The more money you’ll have for yourself.

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