Former DBS exec’s fintech startup bags $8.3m in seed funding

Australia-based fintech company PictureWealth Holdings has raised US$8.3 million in private equity and debt for its late seed funding round.

This follows the startup’s US$920,000 seed raise in 2017.

From left: PictureWealth chairman Neal Cross, group CEO David Pettit, and group chief operating officer Mark Edman / Photo credit: PictureWealth

PictureWealth’s digital services cover financial advisory, licensing, insurance, investments, loans, and superannuation, or the money set aside by employers for their employees’ retirement.

The company said part of the new funds had been deployed to acquire financial services companies, with the latest one being Neo Financial Solutions (NFS). NFS provides licensing services to over 80 financial advisors across Australia.

The rest of the funds will go toward building the next version of PictureWealth’s platform to better support the digital execution of funds and insurance.

What problem is it solving? “Wealth for me isn’t about selling ETF’s [exchange-traded funds] and pretty pie charts. It’s about dealing with clients’ hopes and fears and for that, we need humane humans,” Neal Cross, the firm’s chairman, told Tech in Asia.

The company helps clients get their financial profile and manage their wealth with the help of an on-demand financial expert who offers financial education and advice.

“Many financial advisers have spent their entire lives building a business that is now worth less than expected, or in some cases nothing at all,” said David Pettit, co-founder and group CEO of PictureWealth.

The company said that its acquisition of NFS will enable its advisors to operate under license as well as offer compliance management, training, and audits. It will also give them access to PictureWealth’s client management software.

The startup hires advisors every week. Anyone who’s an authorized representative of NFS may also become a PictureWealth advisor.

What’s the opportunity? According to the company, the superannuation industry in Australia is valued at US$2 trillion. With US$1.4 billion in funds under advice, the company said it’s on its way to achieve its goal of capturing a 10% market share.

Since PictureWealth considers itself as a hybrid platform, it may compete with three types of financial services players: regular advisory businesses, robo-advisors, and licensees. Cross, however, is confident that there are no hybrid platforms that operate like them in Australia and globally.

“The future of this industry isn’t 100% digital. We feel it’s a mixture of the old world and the new in a hybrid model,” he said.

The company then seeks to grow in multiple ways, but primarily by acquiring businesses and digitally transforming them to reduce cost of operations, increase productivity, and improve client experience.

It’s also looking to secure series A funds by the end of this year. In addition, expansion towards Southeast Asia and Hong Kong via partnerships is underway, Cross shared.

How much traction has it gotten? Within 21 months of commercial operation, the startup said it has attracted 40,000 clients and achieved US$14 million in annualized revenue, with most of it recurring revenue. It also claims it’s growing at an “exceptional and profitable rate.”

Who are the team members? PictureWealth was built by Pettit, Cross, and Marko Sekez, the startup’s chief technology officer.

Pettit has over 10 years of experience in the private wealth sector while Cross previously worked at Microsoft, Mastercard, and DBS Bank. He’s also an advisory board member in Southeast Asian fintech player Razer Fintech. Sekez, who has over a decade of experience in tech and business, is also co-founder of and board member at marketing solutions provider Appenture.

NFS managing director Mark Edman, meanwhile, will take on the group chief operating officer role at PictureWealth following the acquisition.

Source: Tech In Asia

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