Improving Financial Literacy with Raiz Invest - Raiz Invest

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George Lucas, Raiz CEO

 

A defining aspect of the Raiz story

Enhancing financially literacy has always been integral to the Raiz Invest story. From the time we first hung out our shingle in March 2016 under the Acorns banner, we appreciated that the millennials signing up in their droves were often as thirsty for financial information as they were for the technology that allowed them to save and invest their small change.

It seemed to me we had really hit a sweet spot. Financial advice was largely out of their financial reach (even more so post the Financial Services Royal Commission), as were fund managers. Bank interest rates were (and are) derisory, just like the customer service they offer.

So, a micro-investing platform – mobile phone or web app – that not only allows millennials to save their loose change on a regular basis but to invest in a portfolio of funds was just what they wanted. But it wasn’t just the practical application of our technology, or the ease in which millennials could access it.

No, it was they way we engaged with them, using social media to explain the roll-out of new services and products that meet their changing needs. And underpinning it has been an educational-centric focus from day 1 – and that will never change.

 

Enhancing financial literacy in Indonesia

But if it’s been an exciting – and rewarding – journey in Australia, then Indonesia, where we have received a licence to distribute mutual funds, will be much more so, especially when it comes to spreading the financial literacy message.

Like so many businesses looking to expand in the fourth most populous country in the world, we had no concept of the enormity of the opportunity – or the magnitude of the task. Now we appreciate both.

The numbers tell it all. Currently there are about 100 million bank accounts in Indonesia, but the number of mutual fund investors is less than a million. The simplistic – and wrong – explanation for the disparity between these two numbers is that Indonesia is a poor country.

It’s wrong because as the respected Boston Consulting Group points out, the emerging middle, middle and upper middle-class consumers in Indonesia are estimated to be 168 million by 2030 – and that’s out of a total population of 270 million.

 

Crowded street in Jakarta, Indonesia
The population of Indonesia is over 269 million

 

For Raiz, this is only half the story. Although this country missed the PC revolution, it is certainly embracing the smart phone. Research shows there are about 180 million users, and of this number at least 120 million are active on social media. It’s tailor made for us.

We will use social media to enhance financial literacy. Instead of people having to learn about it (and that approach has struggled globally), with Raiz they get hands-on experience via a medium they understand. As in Australia, many young people who never thought they could save can now do so by automating the process.

Once they start saving, they want to know how it’s invested. It’s a natural progression. Instead of seeing investment as the preserve of the rich, it becomes something they can relate to in their lives. In this way we are actively helping remove a barrier to wealth creation and will potentially improve the lives of many.

Don’t get me wrong. We think Indonesia is an exciting business opportunity. But commercial goals and having a positive impact on young people’s savings and investing habits don’t have to be mutually exclusive. For once, that old cliché, a win-win situation, is valid.

 

 

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