ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: QUANTFOLIO
As part of our Lighthouse Program Alumni series, we are highlighting Quantfolio, a Norway-based member of our Spring 2019 program. Founded in 2015, Quantfolio’s mission is to empower financial institutions with data and technology by providing algorithm powered savings and roboadvice technology, including investor assessment, automated portfolios, investment selection, analysis and simulation. We spoke to CSO and co-founder Jan Åge Skaathun to catch up with the team and their progress since we last saw them.
They initially joined Lighthouse with the goal of partnering and by the end of the program they succeeded in that with an SEB process. Like many, the fintech had to adapt to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. “When we were in the program, we had three business units: the robotic advisor that we sell to banks and wm´s, our analytics platform Deep Alpha and a quant fund with some family offices,” shares Skaathun, but then the pandemic forced them to make some tough decisions. “We were raising money and then in the middle of everything plummeting, we had to make some prioritizations in our product offerings. It was a tough decision, but we ended up closing down the fund because it was hard to sell and maintain that business unit under those conditions,” he explains.
Despite a turbulent start to 2020, they have signed with one of the largest European financial institutions and raised 15m NOK in equity for international growth. Quantfolio is poised to succeed as they have made triumphant adjustments to their business model and are right on track following industry trends. “We saw that for us, as such a small company, doing such large implementations, long sales cycles with banks and being dependent on getting these deals over the line left us not in control over sales processes. We needed to change that,” shares Skaathun. As a result, Quantfolio decided to compartmentalize their product into much smaller API modules. Instead of selling a big complex robo advisor, the team lifted bits and pieces of it, such as simulation components, stock screeners, a fund picker, in order to be able to engage with banks on their specific needs in their value chain. This has been hugely impactful and as Skaathun explains, “This has really dramatically changed how many customers we can work with and our sales cycles. Now we can do digital marketing and people can consume our technologically without us almost being involved. That is where we are going.”
So despite the difficulties, Skaathun has agreed that the events of 2020 encouraged the company to make transformative changes, such as, to a larger extent, including savings banks and wealth managers to their focus, thus expanding their customer base, and allowing for more flexible employee bases. The company has also recently launched their advisor platform, which now mean that they deliver a modular platform, not only focusing on self service, but also incorporating human advisory flow as part of the offering in a full omni channel offering.
Recent trends also show there is a mega trend in sustainability in the savings and investment field, as well as a global shift towards API capabilities. This shift will drastically alter the industry from the regulatory side, as we will likely see changes in methods of reporting, selection of holdings, and counseling.
“We want to create a footprint, not only in terms of size and growth, but also in terms of what we believe our technology can help with, especially in the green finance field. That is something I personally want to see through.”
Jan Åge Skaathun
CSO & co-founder
He believes we will see an increase in AI-integrated banking models, which would certainly be a step forward for Quantfolio. In the past, due to compliance, it was difficult to integrate AI into banking, but now there is a space for it in the holistic banking movement, which examines the customer’s entire personal economy and allocations.
The team is now moving the company toward being much more digital-enabled in terms of getting inbound leads. “The challenge now is that we have done this transformation, we need to build some new skillsets in the organization. We are now targeting a mass market, which we must reach through digital channels,” he says and the team is growing in order to do so.
We see Quantfolio playing a key role in strengthening the financial ecosystem in the Nordics and look forward to seeing how Quantfolio continues to innovate in the future, both amidst the pandemic and afterwards.