How these 3 friends are solving a problem faced by a majority of Indians
When it comes to investing your hard-earned money, do you feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available? Or that you don’t have the time or the expertise to decide what is best suited to your needs? Perhaps you’re not even sure what your financial goals are, let alone how to plan for them? We rarely think of investing in terms of concrete financial goals we want to achieve, such as a comfortable retirement, a new home, or our children’s education.
To solve this problem faced by a majority of Indians, Swapnil Bhaskar, Ankur Choudhary and Savitri Bobde created Goalwise in 2015 – India’s first goal-based investment platform. Aiming to simplify personal finance and investing, while preventing mis-selling, Goalwise.com is an online investment service that helps users invest according to their financial goals. The team soft-launched the product in February 2016, and based on their success during this period, recently closed funding of US$1M from undisclosed Angel Investors.
Swapnil and Ankur are both from IIT Kanpur, and Savitri is from St. Xavier’s, Mumbai. Swapnil brings on board several years’ experience in the banking sector, where he specialized in personal finance, while Ankur spent 6 years in portfolio management at leading Indian and global investment management firms. Savitri is a 6-year veteran of the education research space.
The Concept Behind Goalwise
Ankur, Chief Investment Officer of Goalwise.com, explains, “Investing is like exercising – everyone wants to do it, but no one follows through. One has to set goals and systematically work towards them, and investing in goals has proven to give better results than ad-hoc investments. But at the same time it should be simple to do and Goalwise does exactly this.
Think of Goalwise as FitBit for investments, only much more – in addition to monitoring a user’s goals and investments, it allows them to create and invest towards those goals, and advises them if any changes are needed to keep them on track. Moreover, our scientific investment strategies help our users avoid undue risk, get better returns and shield themselves from human judgment errors.”
Once the user has chosen her goals, Goalwise does the rest. It creates an investment plan for each goal, intelligently allocates savings according to the user’s risk level, invests in scientifically chosen, consistently performing Mutual Funds and tracks the investment still the user achieves the goal, right till the end. According to the co-founders, “It’s like having an intelligent personal investment manager available online for free.”
Users can see the overall status of their investments on their Goalwise Dashboard, as well as a summary of each goal on the corresponding Goal Card. If they are off-track, Dashboard Notifications will give them simple suggestions to get back on-track for their goal.
The Seeds are Sown, and a Sapling Rises
Swapnil, CEO, adds, “Investing in India is totally broken. Doing it properly is a lot of work, and not everyone has the time or the expertise for it. Additionally, in my retail banking experience, I have seen a ridiculous amount of mis-selling in almost every financial product.All these observations and experiences accumulated over the years to inspire Goalwise.com. Ankur, who had already been building complex algorithms at a multi-billion dollar US based hedge fund, quickly came on board to develop this idea further. We now use the Goalwise.com website ourselves to invest our savings towards our financial goals, and in the same Mutual Funds that we recommend to our users. We even declare on our website the brokerage we earn from Mutual Fund Companies. TheMutual Fund investments are held directly under the name of the user, and they can be taken out anytime, with or without going through Goalwise.”
As the Product Lead, Savitri thinks the real challenge lies in creating something that can also educate people about the importance of financial goals and personal financein an interesting way. “We are never taught this in school or college. So many people, like me before Goalwise, either never do any financial planning or end up making bad financial decisions.”
Users can change Investment per Month, Time Horizon and Risk Profile and see how these changes affect their goal projections. The user can then start investing towards their preferred goal plan.
The team has spent the past year developingthe product from scratch.They have designed their own algorithms for investment advisory, Mutual Fund selection,as well as goal tracking (GoalSense™ technology). All requisite compliance formalities with the Association of Mutual Funds in India and licensing agreements with the top Indian Mutual Fund companieswere executed during this period.
Soft-Launch for Tax Saving Season, and the Big Reveal
The company had a soft-launch phase from February-April, which focused on tax-saving goals. Hundreds of users from diverse age groups registered on the platform. Most of them made one-time investments in Equity Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS) to cover their IT deduction limits under Section 80C, while some even started monthly SIP plans with as little as Rs. 1,000. Users came from varied employment backgrounds, and included government and defence officials, as well as employees of top firms such as Google, McKinsey, Oracle and Reliance.
The team has been receiving good reviews from happy investors. “Goalwise.com is the only investment management platform that I have come across in India that I can trust to provide the recommendation that is best for me, and not that earns the most for Goalwise,” said Abhishek. Kirthi adds that, “The Goalwise site is beautifully made and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience when I signed into it yesterday. I felt it couldn’t have been made any simpler.”
Goalwise.com has successfully launched the main goal-based investing product on May 15th, where users can create goals for their retirement, children’s education or just invest for maximizing wealth. Their portfolio recommendations are chosen from the best funds of the top 10 Mutual Fund companies, such as Franklin Templeton, ICICI Prudential, Birla Sun Life and Axis Mutual Fund.
The team was advised by Dexter Capital during the funding process. Goalwise.com will be using the funds to scale up technology and operations efforts, and the team is now seeking to push further with its aim of converting Indians to savvy and organized goal-based investors.