An Indian breadwinner’s letter to all investing and fintech companies

To All Personal Finance Companies,

Every where I go, online or offline, I find myself surrounded by some product or company that claims to help me get rich.

Whether it is a mutual fund, a money tracking app, or the latest financial startup with yet another cool investing platform.

I’ve grown tired of them all. They take some money, then some more, and some more, and tell me to wait 3 or 7 or 10 years, all the while promising me that I am getting rich. They make their income from every investment, while I am told to keep waiting.

And, after doing all that jugglery with my money, I don’t feel rich!

My life is not math. My life reflects what I feel.

This feeling of “rich” is not about a big number in my bank account, or a graph, or some time-tested formula that never fails.

Sensible people figure out that money is useful only when used. I’m sensible. My greed is not uncapped. My future is not boxed into clichéd goals the way you’ve imagined it to be. I don’t care if your algorithm is better, or if you claim to give me half a percent more in returns. And, why should I care, when everything you say makes me feel I have less.

I am not waiting for decades just to start feeling rich. I’ve seen my parents and grandparents do the same. No one gets joy from feeling rich at 60. More often, they feel enormous regret for not doing more with their money, for valuing math over moments.

My time here is finite. My family, my passions, my kids, they’re all evolving and aging with me. I want to feel a little spontaneous and care-free in my 30s and 40s, and feel good about my savings while doing so.

So here’s my request to you — please don’t mess with my head, unless you figure out how to take care of my heart.

A sensible Indian family bread-winner

I wrote this letter to articulate to myself the consumer’s perspective on fintech.

Most recently, I was the CMO of a fintech company for two years. During my tenure, I absorbed the Indian breadwinner’s behaviour, his/her concerns and biases, and felt the pain of his inability to make an investment decision. It takes months, sometimes a year, to bring him into a new investing product, and the CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) remains high.

I have always felt that something was missing in these products including the ones I was using for my own investments. It seemed to me that innovation in personal finance needed some of that late-mover thinking that Adam Grant talks about in his book (The Originals).

I am on a sabbatical these days to recharge and get some precious thinking time. During this phase, I have been introduced to new ideas, new companies in fintech, and I’ve serendipitously interacted with consumers of all types. This letter is an humble attempt to capture some learnings.

I’ve intentionally mentioned the word ‘breadwinner’ in the above letter, because the perspective of the younger or single audience is slightly different although the need to feel rich is similar. I’ve also used and defined the word 'sensible' because this segment is often hounded with ad messages that assume otherwise.

I would love to hear your thoughts. On my end, some solutions have emerged, and I think they can address the consumer’s underlying feelings. I would love to collaborate with companies or founders who are hungry for innovation in this space, and feel accountable to the Indian breadwinner.

You can reach me on LinkedIn or Medium.