Getting to Launch // With May Auster
Having ideas is easy. The hard part is making them real. And getting them to work. To hear from someone who has managed just that we spoke to May Auster — Head of Marketing at the newly launched Investec Click & Invest — about the highs and lows of getting a service launched. And not just any service, one in Financial Services — notoriously one of the hardest industries to change.
TI // It’s a sunny Wednesday in London and we’ve had a couple of coffees to get us started. Click & Invest has received great reviews and press since its launch so huge congratulations. Where did the original idea come from?
Well originally it came from Steve Elliott (Investec Global Head of Wealth & Investment) about 5 / 6 years ago. So, a little while in the planning! Steve had seen new services such as Nutmeg emerge alongside regulatory changes in 2012 which identified an advice gap, in which a huge number of people with disposable income available to invest, weren’t able to access financial advice. This really galvanised us into thinking that given our expertise and experience we could help. Fast forward to 2015 and our team was set-up to launch the service in the UK.
TI // Over the last 2 years of building the service you must have seen a lot — what is your biggest learning from launching Click & Invest?
Definitely the biggest is that building the best team around you is hugely important.
For Investec it is all about a cultural fit. We believe in upskilling, so we look for people with the right fit and attitude, as particularly in a startup business environment there is nowhere to hide. I didn’t want yes people. I wanted to hear better ways of doing things.
With our agencies this is important also. Working internally it is easy to get sucked in and lose your frame of reference, so it’s important that your agencies and partners bring this outside perspective.
TI // It is so important to continue adapting through the launch process as the market evolves. What surprised you about the process of getting the service to market?
Honestly, the length of time it took. We all thought it wouldn’t be quite as hard as it was. On the one hand it is great that you have an established business environment you are working in and so don’t need to worry about funding rounds. But with that you get working with, and integrating legacy systems, and also the need to encourage a change in thinking. The length of time, the volume of work and the stuff that needs to happen is huge. If you are in a BAU or established environment you don’t experience the journey, or see how difficult it was to get there. I take my hat off to any startups who get something out the door!
TI // Yes for sure! It is no small achievement. Thinking back — what advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time to the very start?
There is something incredibly overwhelming about getting a blank piece of paper and being told to build something. I found that I tried to run before I could walk, or even walk before I could crawl. I had the skills but had to apply them in really a different way and it was easy to get overwhelmed. You lift up one rock and a 1000 bugs scurry out.
You need to know it’s ok not to be able to do it all, but it’s important to find a starting point and work your way through. For example, I felt under pressure to deliver a ‘brand’ early on but we really shouldn’t have started there. Now I know that, but at the start you have to have courage in your convictions.
The first thing we did properly was customer insight, understanding what our audiences want and need, using that to inform our decision making. That anchored everything we did and it informed so much — UX, messaging, writing all the copy for our website. I would recommend doing research before anything else. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is done as a default.
I guess the final piece of advice is to be resilient! Dig in and get on with it. Tenacity is key as some weeks are so hard, so when you get there you have to celebrate the successes. If I was to reflect on everything we achieved as a team it really is amazing.
But we also recognise we are very young, we’ve only been launched a few months so our next focus is on refining the service and improving it. We have done a great job and we are out there, but it never stops — you can always do better, get better, serve customers clients better.
Seth Godin, author and entrepreneur:
“Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress.”
May Auster is Head of Marketing at Click & Invest and she spoke to Tania Ferreira, a Partner at Two Igloos who likes to chat to people even in the mornings, especially when there is coffee involved.