LFP059 – How Smart Pension got 75,000 Fintech Clients in under 2yrs with Will Wynne Co-Founder

Smart Pension London Fintech PodcastI have the pleasure to be joined today by Will Wynne MD and co-founder of Smart Pension who have had the fastest 0-60 of any Fintech that has been on the show to date and it’s a record that’s hard to beat.

Will Wynne Smart PensionHow did they do it? Listen up and all will be revealed – though if all of us can read recipe books, few of us can become master chefs like Will who previously sold millions of flowers (from knowing nothing about that business) and in his spare time raised £100m for charity.

I say “wow” more in this episode than in any other – I think you can see why…

In 2014 I hung out a lot in the Fintech startup scene. So many moths! Such a big flame! One of the insider “trick questions” in Fintech is “name a success from all the Fintech incubator/accelerator programs in London”. Actually to be honest someone did come up with one name very recently – though sadly I’ve forgotten it so will lose the game next time that question comes round.

All of which is to say that the ex-ante chances of an individual Fintech getting anywhere are roughly less than zero. And as for ideas … sigh – so many people tell me they have an idea – yes everyone has lots – there is a bigger gulf from idea to business perhaps than there is from startup to business of scale. And then a big gap from “business of scale” (which the best Fintechs have reached) to – er – what might we call it. Scrapes his memory for long-since economics lessons … of yes its coming back … yes the stage that Fintech ain’t got to yet … its … yes “a profitable business” J

So how do you win the lottery? How do you beat odds of less than zero percent of getting anywhere?

Are you interested in how to do this? Would your Fintech be better off for acquiring 75,000 clients?

Listen up and the formula for instant fame and success will be yours. Terms and conditions apply.

Topics discussed on the show include: – Will’s childhood in Zaire and what to do when you create the world’s longest bus (?!)

– career path starting in the City, moving to eBay in its heyday and really learning how to use the interweb for marketing

– moving from eBay to founding Arena Flowers which has now shipped millions of flowers, both B2C and B2B (they do all the flowers for Moonpig), 120K flowers on Mothers Day this year. The lessons from this both re logistics behind the scene but also a great tech front-end

– reliability rates in delivery across the board for web firms varying from 95-97% at the lowest end to 99+% at the top end

– creating eBay for Charity literally in his spare time which has raised £100m for charities

– how not to dress for ones first day on a trading floor

– auto-enrolment of pensions whereby tens of millions of people in the UK have to have a pension scheme set up for them (or their employers will go to prison). From next year every new employer will have to set up a pension. “Privatising the state pension timebomb”.

– this is (for the employee) an opt-out scheme unlike prior schemes like SIPPs which were opt-in

– Smart Pension use one of the largest pensions managers in the country to manage the assets whilst sorting the process surrounding this

– the three largest players in the UK auto-enrolment market are a curious mix of the UK Govt (!), a company backed by the Danish govt and a charity

– Smart Pension saw the opportunity to do this in a hi-tech way not low tech; how APIs enable all this and examples of how they work in practice

– Will’s process driven approach to ensuring one can find the right lego-blocks (APIs) and refactor the trickiest parts of the process

– this being the opposite of conventional sales which say “this is really hard” (hence “we can charge you real money for doing it”)

– market-testing – surveying 100 SMEs before they started on which of 20 attributes they felt was most important

– why the government entered, how it allows itself to be more expensive than anyone else (?!) and how the taxpayer is subsidising this business to the tune of £80m pa (:-O !!)

– how to compete against the government (especially without a £400m loan and massive losses tolerated by your funders)

– the relative relevance of email marketing and direct marketing – the importance of the latter oldskool channel in Fintech

– other oldskool channels like the advisor route which has been important to them – they signed up about 1,000 in ten weeks launch :-!

– the importance of “what works works”

– the challenge of managing techies

– getting the Minister for Small Business to visit them (esp. in the context of generating credibility) and his being impressed with their 90 second video summarising the whole scheme – particularly amazing given that the auto-enrolment rules run to a 400pp book (!)

– Smart Pension’s funding and future plans

– a year ago they were 5 staff, now 50 (!)

– auto-enrolment started with Australia and New Zealand but it now being examined around the world

NEST (the governments channel) being an unfair competitor receiving massive state subsidies to compete with the private sector; their expansion plans are – not unnaturally – causing consternation in the pensions sector

– how the contribution rate will get ramped up over time … the govt is selling (er forcing?) employers and employees to buy the thin end of the wedge

– pensions, equity release, old folks homecare and a whole other bunch of financial timebombs that many are not well set up to manage when the time comes

– Smart Penions are “fast, secure and free” (for employers, employees pay a small fee) – check them out at AutoEnrolment.co.uk if you need to do a UK workplace pension (which is a legal requirement so if you are an employer, start extracting a digit)

– nd finally the importance of charm and motivation in being a great chef

And much much more 🙂

Share and enjoy!