CEO Series

This M’sian Gym Doesn't Help You Get Fit, But Makes Your Bank Account Fatter

  • FinC is a Malaysian education platform that acts as an online financial “gym”, where users can come to get a financial health check and “train” themselves to become more financially savvy.
  • Founded in 2017 by Marshall Wong and Chris Tan, FinC also offers “personal training” by qualified financial advisors for those who want a tailored experience.

For all our obsessions with getting smarter, there seems to be a strange lack of education opportunities afforded to everyday people in regards to financial savvy. Sure, there are courses in university covering business and accounting, and there is of course the odd seminar or workshop held every now and then.

But these learning opportunities fall either into the category of being too expensive, too infrequent, or too in-depth—university degrees cost a fortune, financial seminars are hit or miss, and other options available aren’t necessarily much better.

Seeking to fill the gap, ACCA-certified accountant Marshall Wong together with co-founder Chris Tan decided to create a training platform for people who want to improve their financial know-how, or in their own words, a “financial gym”. This all started during a period when both of them were working together in a financial advisory firm.

FinC co-founders Marshall and Chris / Image Credit: FinC

“Contrary to popular belief, a financial advisor or financial planner is not your typical insurance agent or unit trust consultant,” Marshall explained. “They provide more in-depth and holistic financial planning rather than sell you financial products.”

“However, due to the amount of work they do and the time needed to create a plan, their services tend to be more expensive and available only to richer clients,” he continued. “Hence young Malaysians don’t have access to a holistic financial planning service.”

So in May 2017, both Marshall and Chris decided to go ahead with their plan and created FinC, with the company officially incorporated in January this year.

Financial Fitness Regimen

To put it simply, what FinC offers is a service that aims to help Malaysians learn how to manage their personal finances by providing them a “workout programme” that will strengthen various financial “muscle groups” such as insurance, cash flow management, investments, and real estate management.

When users first start off with FinC, they’ll be put through a health check to determine the state of their finances—very much like how a gym checks new members to ascertain their fitness levels.

“You merely need to provide your insurance or investment portfolio and we will do the number crunching to show your current financial position and project your future plans,” Marshall said.

Image Credit: FinC

And from there—just like a real gym—FinC lets users pick between going through its free educational content or signing up with a personal trainer (or rather a personal financial planner) for a more tailored experience. According to Marshall, these personal trainers will be made certain to possess the necessary qualifications before being accepted onto FinC.

“For a financial planner to be listed on FinC, one must be licensed by the Securities Commission of Malaysia and Bank Negara, and needs to have a track record of providing financial advisory services to at least 100 clients,” he explained. “There are only around 700 financial planners in Malaysia, and as a comparison, there are about 60,000 doctors and 40,000 lawyers.”

“Our members can expect to receive a transparent and unbiased service from these financial planners as they don’t represent any institution.”

Currently, FinC is in a period of transition, with them moving their previously offline business model online. They currently have about 220 offline users but are targeting to hit 1,500 users and paying customers by the end of 2018.

To achieve this goal, Marshall says that his team are working with partner educators and organisations to develop content that is as transparent and unbiased as possible.

“As we launch our educational content in phases, we’re committed to enhance our platform consistently to ensure that our members have the best experience in planning their own finances,” he said.

“To be financially fit, it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey after all.”

Image Credit: FinC

Group Exercise

Marshall also explained a bit about some of the unique challenges faced when trying to grow a business such as his—the most major one being relevance.

“Financial education will never be the first thing most Malaysians think about,” he said. “FinC will need to create awareness on the importance of financial education.”

“We foresee that this will be an uphill battle, but it also means that great opportunity lies ahead of us.”

In this regard, Marshall says that the main strategy for growing FinC is community building.

Image Credit: FinC

“We understand that as a startup, we don’t have the capital and resources to compete with banks and other financial institutions,” he said. “As such we must be nimble and position ourselves as the builder of the ‘FIT’ (Financially Independent Thinkers) community—a community that will motivate each other to achieve their respective life goals.”

“We’re leveraging on our strategic partners to build this,” he said. “As the financial industry is very fragmented and complicated, we see there’s a huge opportunity for FinC to connect different platforms and organisations to provide a holistic view for our members.”

Finally, Marshall hopes that FinC will ultimately become the go-to destination for financial education in Asia, and also hopes to bring this pillar to Malaysian school systems.

“Our vision is to be Asia’s largest financial education hub,” he said. “But first, we also want to introduce financial education into the formal education system here in Malaysia.”

Within the coming months, FinC will be rolling out more educational modules, including Core Training (insurance planning), Cardio Sessions (cash flow/networth management), Muscle Building (investment advisory), and Tai Chi (estate planning).

Feature Image Credit: FinC

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