How parental advice turned into a unique online platform
What began as an understandable parental warning has developed into a unique online platform scheduled to launch next month. Thanks in part to the Eastern Daily Press.
EDP columnist Peter Sharkey, a Bristol University economics graduate who has built and sold several different businesses, had what he called “an epiphany” after his Millennial daughter changed jobs around two years ago.
“My daughter had landed a new job and after congratulating her I asked about her new employer’s pension provision – as dads do,” says Peter.
“It was a time for celebration, not laying down the law,” he adds, “but I explained that if she does nothing about her pension, no-one else is going to do it for her – and that includes the state. The state pension structure is effectively a giant Ponzi scheme. According to the Government’s own advisers, there’ll be no cash left in 15 years.
“Later, it struck me there must be millions of 25-45-year-olds deferring saving for retirement, either because they deem it unimportant (and I understand why they would), too expensive, or they believe that “something will turn up” to solve the nation’s pension crisis. I’m afraid it won’t.”
Armed with a bundle of statistics and a raft of ideas, Peter arranged meetings with some of the biggest players in the financial services industry.
“I was keen to see if they could develop a range of investment and pension products suitable for Millennials and make the saving process as straightforward and as inexpensive as possible.”
At times, his quest proved an uphill struggle.
“I was amazed at the number of senior people who didn’t appear to understand either the implications of a future without a state pension, nor comprehend the millions of people this will affect. Lots of firms preferred to focus on their existing markets, existing clients,” he muses.
London is not a place where you want to spend a day in fruitless meetings, but heading home following hours in “overheated City offices”, speaking with people about the need to develop savings products aimed at a huge Millennial audience, Peter received an email from the chief executive of an asset management company he’d visited the previous month.
“I’d met with his marketing team and it seems the documents I left with them had finally found their way to the chief executive’s desk,” says Peter.
The email was straight to the point: “We need to talk. When can you come into the office?” Peter called him immediately.
“For more than an hour, we discussed how we could create an online platform which enabled people to save for their futures, garner useful financial information, and consider what they wanted from their savings, all the while dealing with real human beings, not pre-programmed robots.
“The email arrived out of the blue, but I was really pleased to receive it. Finally, someone understood that sidelining Millennials made no sense,” he says.
At that point, MoneyMapp.com was born. Over the last few months, Peter and the asset management company have worked closely to get MoneyMapp.com set up, creating a website which provides simple, inexpensive access to saving products that are managed for them.
“Financial services are not meant to be ultra-complicated,” continues Peter. “If you present people with easy-to-follow information, they’re perfectly capable of making their own saving and investment decisions.”
The setting-up process “has been very involved,” reflects Peter, “but Archant have been great. They immediately recognised MoneyMapp’s potential.”
Indeed, so convinced are the publishers that, from September, they will extend the reach of newspapers where Peter’s weekly MoneyMapp-branded column appears from a single title to almost 40, reaching across the whole of Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
“It’s a massive vote of confidence from Archant and I’m very thankful to them,” adds Peter. “When you take account of the on- and offline readership across each newspaper and its respective website, we’re able to speak directly to more than three million people every week, a number that excludes what can be up to a third of a million people a day on social media.”
Peter has plans to create a panel of local financial advisers, details of which will appear on the platform. “MoneyMapp.com is designed to make the online saving and investment process as easy as possible, but we recognise that there are tens of thousands of people who would prefer to meet with a professional financial adviser face-to-face,” says Peter.
“The reaction from IFAs with whom I’ve discussed this concept [the panel of local financial advisers] has been very positive because we want to ensure that every area where the 40-odd newspapers are distributed benefits from having local IFAs to whom we can refer people seeking face-to-face advice.
If you’re an IFA in this part of the world, we should be talking,” adds the enthusiastic Mr Sharkey. You fancy he’ll succeed in attracting plenty of responses.
Peter would love to hear from readers who have any financial queries. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further financial advice, take a look at The Week In Numbers.