(Listed below is an edited transcript of Brian Barnes' conversation with Dan Carmody)
Dan Carmody: Hello Everyone. My name is Dan Carmody and I'm the Executive Director of TreaSolution, and in this episode of FinTech Intellects In-Depth Conversations, I'm really pleased to have Brian Barnes, who is the founder and CEO of a great app, M1 Finance, join us today. So thank you, Brian, for joining us.
Brian Barnes: Thanks for having me.
Dan Carmody: Brian, tell me a little bit more about M1 finance and what you do for the company.
Brian Barnes: So what I do is I was the founder and CEO, so, you know, probably more influential earlier on and now I just ask other people to do things. But M1 finance is a personal finance platform. We offer three main products. The first one is M1 Invests that is free automated investing in a custom stock or ETF portfolio. We have M1 Borrow which is a portfolio line of credit where you can borrow against your M1 Invest portfolio at rates as low as two percent. Then we have M1 Spend which is a high yield checking account... a checking account that gives you one percent interest on checking one percent cash back on an M1 debit card. And it moves into this comprehensive platform where you can replace your checking account, sweet money into a custom portfolio of the investments you want for free and borrow at one of the lowest interest rates on the market.
Dan Carmody: That's amazing, it seems like an all encompassing financial solution. Is that what you intended to build when you when you first started M1 Finance?
Brian Barnes: Yes. We do call it the finance super app. In some sense we are trying to manage all of the customers, or users, finance on one digital platform as opposed to putting together a bunch of point solutions here and there. I would say the genesis for M1 was more on the Invest side and it very quickly morphed into this all encompassing solution where... The user wants to manage their money. They don't want to just manage a component of it. And so we really want to give the platform the tool where you go to manage all of your money and very intuitive, seamless, low cost ways.
Dan Carmody: That's great. So you said first you started on the investing side. How were you able to get the feedback from your customers to know that they had other demands or other requirements that you could fill through, like the money movement and money management side?
Brian Barnes: In a startup, especially in a heavily regulated space, it is going to be a combination of vision of what you ultimately want to build long term, as well as responding to customer feedback and in a sense, seeing whether you're fulfilling on that vision. In some sense, what we started with was more a manifestation of the personal finance or investing account that I wanted that I wished existed on the marketplace and thought, you know, if I want something like this, there would be other people, too. So it was a little bit more conviction led then feedback led. We really took a premise that people need fantastic finance tools now. They'll need it five years from now. They'll need it 15 years from now. They'll need it one hundred years from now. And there are some principles of ease of use, simplicity, lower cost automation that never go away. And so if you're able to deliver an incredible money management experience, there's always a market for something like that.
Dan Carmody: Sure. You've had an interest in finance for a while, obviously. How did that start?
No hype... just intelligent conversations about financial technology.