Founder of Map My Plan, Paul Feeney, describes the service as helping to ensure that individuals receive the right information at the right time to make well informed financial decisions throughout their life. Obtaining that right information involves being prepared to divulge your financial position, of course, but it’s a trade-off that many might find beneficial. It’s a little bit like having a personal trainer for your finances.
CANSTAR caught up with Mr Feeney to find out a little more about the service.
Q: What is the benefit for Australians in using Map My Plan?
A: Far too many Australians do not have access to independent financial advice (advice not influenced by products) – over 7 million Australian households don’t have access to professional financial advice.
We have built Map My Plan to help people reduce financial stress in their life by being able to develop a personalised financial plan with the comfort of not being sold a product. It is a self-directed, automated service and users do not need to engage with an adviser while building their plan.
We put the client back in control of the advice process. We guarantee not to sell any financial products to our clients. We only focus on strategic advice – taking into account a persons current situation and the goals they want advice on. The advice includes projections as well as detailed step-by-step guides on how to implement any tasks.
Our goal is to ensure individuals receive the right information at the right time to make well informed financial decisions throughout their life.
Q: How does Map My Plan differ from some of the Robo Advice models that are currently being introduced?
A: I would not classify Map My Plan as a “robo-adviser” as most companies classified as “robo-advisers” really are automated investment services. Almost every company in this crowded space provides clients with a product they should buy as a means of reaching their financial goals.
Map My Plan is different, in that we do not sell any financial products – we just focus on advice, which we believe is what people find most valuable.
We want to break the current status quo where written advice is used as a means to justify selling a product.
We have made what people see as a complicated and often confronting process a much easier journey that they can navigate themselves. The use of dashboards and small rewards as you complete the plan, help to engage our clients in the process and increase their level of comfort.
There is still many ways it can be improved – which we will continually be working on.
We have taken away the jargon and present the information in plain language. After all financial planning is not rocket science.
Q: What is involved in a successful startup?
A: For any startup really it should start with identifying a problem and finding the pain point for current people.
How can you alleviate that pain point in an easy, logical way – take away as much of the noise as possible.
Get a solution up and running and have people use it, watch and learn, and make improvements based on their usage.
I can only speak from a perspective of someone building something for individual consumers. Given that, the first thing that has to be done is do not use industry jargon. It turns people off and makes the whole subject of finanice unapproachable.
You also need to give new users “utility” (ie see the benefits of using your service) in as minimal steps as possible.
Q: What has the startup journey been like for you personally?
A: Things always take twice as long as you want. Anyone who starts a business is always in a hurry so you want results a lot quicker. But sitting back and reflecting we have achieved a lot in the past 12 months.
It is the third business that I have been part of starting (other businesses as a co-founder), so I was a bit more aware of what I was signing up for, but it is always a lot more work than you initially think. But very rewarding creating something from a vision in your head
We have developed a fully automated financial planning service. A lot of people are still saying this can’t be done. But it is here, we just want more people to be using it!