Australian FinTech company profile #97 – Smart
1. Company Name: Smart
2. Website: smart.co
3. Key Staff & Titles:
Andrew Evans, Group CEO, Will Wynne, Group MD
Dan McLaughlin, Director of International
Michael Watkins, Head of Proposition
4. Location(s): London (UK), Brighton (UK), Warsaw and Krakow (Poland), Javea (Spain), Dublin (Ireland), Zagreb (Croatia), Minsk (Belarus), Dubai (UAE) and shortly Nashville (US) and Melbourne (Australia).
5. In one sentence, what does your fintech do? Smart is a global financial technology provider committed to transforming retirement across all generations.
6. How/why did you start your fintech company? Founded in 2014 by Andrew Evans and Will Wynne, Smart was created to modernise the retirement industry in the UK. They brought together their financial and technological expertise with the goal of making auto enrolment simple for employers and members. It was clear that our modern technology had global applicability, and the Smart Platform now powers retirement solutions in the UK, Ireland and the Middle East. We are launching into Australia and other excellent retirement and wealth markets, such as the US, in 2021.
7. What is the best thing your company has achieved or learnt along the way (this can include awards, capital raising etc)? Our rapid growth has been one of our greatest achievements. In five years we have grown to nearly 400 staff in the UK and Europe. We’re expanding internationally and growing our teams by recruiting in Australia and the US. We’ve received investment from global financial giants Legal & General, J.P. Morgan, Barclays, Natixis and Australia’s own Link Group. We’ve also won a host of industry awards in the UK and Europe as well as members of the team being individually recognised in their fields.
8. What’s some advice you’d give to an aspiring start-up? Know which direction you are heading, always plan for growth a number of steps ahead and be prepared to evolve as often as it is required. As well as knowing your customers, also know your ecosystem and look to identify like-minded partners to support your growth. Never forget to be user-centric in your design thinking and approach: build the software or product that your customers need, not necessarily what you think they need.
We also recommend establishing, very early, guiding principles for your business. Here at Smart, there are seven guiding principles we live by. They make the organisation a great place to work and ensure we’re all working in the same way to produce the best results.
9. What’s next for your company? And are you looking to expand overseas or stay focussed on Australia? Australia is a very exciting market and we are fully committed to it. Our technology is a great fit and presents a unique opportunity in the industry. By the end of 2021 we will be live in the three largest retirement markets in the world (US, Australia and UK) as well as rolling out across the wider Middle East.
10. What other fintechs or companies do you admire? We admire many fintechs and there are so many superb firms out there. To pick one out, we really like Octopus Energy as they have, like us, built a modern technology platform to improve and disrupt an established industry. Their parent is the Octopus Group, a financial services business doing many very impressive things in the UK. They are able to scale quickly and white label their technology around the world at a rapid pace.
11. What’s the most interesting or funniest moment that’s happened in your company’s lifetime? We’ve been to some great locations with wonderful people from Downing Street to Park Avenue to Government House in Victoria. We’ve also deployed some amusing guerilla marketing techniques where our business development team wore Smart branded polo shirts (which included lots of helpful information) at expensive shindigs and industry events. We recommend the same guerilla style tactics to all fintech friends!