We talked to Felicia Meyerowitz Singh of Akoni on how to earn 10x more interest on cash and this is what she said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Felicia Meyerowitz Singh: We are all doing well, thank you for asking. Though, of course, the last year has had considerable personal challenges. We are constantly adjusting to the changing circumstances, rules and regulations and ensuring we stay safe to the best of our ability.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Akoni.
Felicia Meyerowitz Singh: I conceived of Akoni as a frustrated Director managing £50m cash, both under CASS rules on behalf of clients as well as a saver with very few market options. SMEs traditionally did not have access to the treasury systems/ bank treasury that large corporates had, and therefore there wasn’t an adequate market solution. I remember asking the bank if there was anything they could offer, and shockingly they suggested I go to the bank with the cash in a briefcase!
How does Akoni innovate?
Felicia Meyerowitz Singh: Akoni innovates based on our client-centric model offering Cash-as a Service. We use data to personalize savings products for clients and solutions for our wealth sector partners. Our platform is API First with multiple data, including Open Banking. We increase cash returns for businesses, individuals, financial advisors, charities and nonprofits through a simple to use and award-winning platform – maximizing returns and a one-stop view of all cash, with easy multi-bank management and diversification. Akoni’s solution is provided as a leading marketplace providing hassle-free access to multiple banks through Akoni Hub, which is FCA regulated. Our banking partners include Barclays, Investec, Clydesdale, Shawbrook, Aldemrore amongst others… The platform works primarily with our distribution. on a white label basis with various financial advisory and wealth platforms and other partners, both via API and as a branded portal. We deliver a rapid white label with various adviser benefits unique in the market.
This is delivered through innovative technology and data science, and in addition to client benefit, the platform increases liquidity and affinity to financial institutions, providing tools which help the daily lives of their customers. Akoni provides a simple and complete solution to actively manage cash with strong governance and improve returns, as well as a wide range of cash management tools. Tools including the Cash portfolio planner, algo-driver and nudges, Liquidity planner for ease of decision-making and governance prompting; in addition to Cash Connect Open Banking tool; Cash Planner and Insights with analytics and intelligence.
We are disrupting the tile of traditional banks who have neglected their clients historically. Our platform has been recognized with various industry innovations awards including
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Felicia Meyerowitz Singh: Like many businesses, Akoni was presented with new challenges as a result of the government lockdown. However, as an agile fintech company, we were well prepared for such events. Our staff were able to work and communicate remotely with virtually no impact on productivity. As we help our clients maximize their sitting cash, and when the Bank of England cut rates, we knew we would be able to support many with our partner banks still offering great returns. Additionally, we pivoted by offering discounts to our services and speeding up technological advances such as implementing a five-minute onboarding process, during these uncertain times.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Felicia Meyerowitz Singh: We spent some time reviewing the strategy. As a digital-first company, we are focused on our team as well as client and partner needs.
Fortunately, we came up with our Covid helping hands initiative NS our internal Project lemonade, to help individuals and advisers as well as maximizing our fully digital process including our 5minutes AML process for SMEs and individuals, unique amongst our competitors. We also raised funds and continued to hire new team members, particularly growing our adviser and wealth sector expertise. Such uncertainty has sped up the digitalization of things that were already underway. As an entrepreneur, resilience is a key factor that helps determine the success of a business in addition to being able to constantly adapt to an ever-changing market. We are part of a broad ecosystem of partners and clients and aim to continue to drive transformation while offering supportive Covid initiatives.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Akoni in the future?
Felicia Meyerowitz Singh: Naturally, Our team, including myself, has to be very resilient, and remain focused on what I am achieving. We have senior banking and wealth advisers who continue to support our strategy and provide independent oversight, contributing further to this resiliency. The sector has a fantastic range of opportunities, and we have been expanding our distribution partners in support of our plan.
As CEO and co-founder, stress is inevitable. I prioritize taking care of my health and fitness as well as getting sufficient sleep and getting all the support available. Mindful meditation helps and outdoors exercise and activity as well as time with loved ones. I also believe strongly in fixating on our vision (as mentioned above) and pushing forward, through all difficulties, including a global pandemic. I am also naturally optimistic – finding a way of seeing each situation as an opportunity, working with a great team – all of this helps! Together with developing an attitude of strength and professionally delivering, develops independence and credibility.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Felicia Meyerowitz Singh: Akoni’s core competition we are displacing are the lethargy of big banks historically. In particular, in the retail and wealth sector cash as an asset has been neglected, and SMEs do not receive any cash management tools of this nature for clients.
Akoni removes all these frictions and partners with banks to provide a simple and easy to use platform for our end clients, as well as providing increased visibility to advisers and wealth platforms – increasing overall assets under the influence. Customers are driving change with pressure for fully integrated solutions – viewing multiple products through a highly curated marketplace. There are other cash platforms worldwide. Akoni’s solution is a market leader, as many others do not provide any cash tools or ability to streamline onboarding. The API driven platform is state of the art in the way it serves our white label financial advisor partners.
Our key USP is we operate a client-centric, not a product-centric solution, with the objective to personalize products using data, which has not been done previously due to the nature of the market. We deliver enterprise and marketplace solutions to our banking and wealth clients, and There are very few players specializing in Cash-as-a-service in this way.
Your final thoughts?
Felicia Meyerowitz Singh: I understand that during times of uncertainty it can be difficult for many businesses and individuals, that’s why we have specifically introduced a few new products to help our clients:
Adviser and wealth platform focused solution including personalized branding and collateral as well as 3rd party tools for advisers managing client assets
–From your sofa digital 5-minute onboarding: We have launched our Covid-19 cash tools specifically to enable business and consumers to onboard in the remote working environment – from anywhere. This includes our optional 5-minute digital onboarding tool with all anti-money laundering performed in lockdown.
–Time-saving Cash Planner tools: Providing you with simple access to your hub balance and recent transactions. This means you can check the progress of your instructed deposits and filter all your transactions according to your own preference.
Wealth-Partner and White Label solutions: covering all proof it types Wrapped users can now create their accounts and utilize the features Akoni has to offer. Whether you have an SSAS, SIPP, Trust or Power of attorney cases, you can now manage your cash effectively via our platform. We also offer specific incentives including Kickstart cash during the current Covid market working in collaboration with advisers
–White Label Solutions – rapid deployment: In this environment, we offer a free branded platform for our channel partners, including Advisors, wealth managers/platforms as well as banks and insurers. We can utilize our tech for a live white label within just 30 minutes and offer a full API integration as well for the larger platforms. This means you can offer your clients an additional service branded as your company with all of the features of Akoni as a marketplace, within your brand