Since the early lockdown period in March, Auckland-based fintech, Invsta, has noticed a...
Getting to know Invsta’s CTO, Abhy Singla
Driving our vision of “powering better experiences” is Invsta’s CTO, Abhy Singla. A software architect by trade, Abhy brings a wealth of technical knowledge and a future-forward mindset to the Invsta team. We recently sat down with him to find out about his journey with Invsta and his top three pieces of advice for aspiring founders.
1) I wanted to start Invsta because…
Ever since I was young, I remember my parents educating me about the importance of saving money and how to go about it. After I got my first job, I was able to save enough money to finally invest and enlist the services of a wealth advisor. However, what really stuck with me about the whole process was how complicated and lengthy the sign-up process was. Being a millennial, I was used to being able to do pretty much everything online, so it amazed me that I was still having to do my investments manually. I immediately saw that there was a huge gap in the market to help financial service providers interact and service their clients better. Once I started really looking into the industry, I saw there was a big opportunity to utilise technology to help educate and inspire end investors to manage and save their money better.
2) My background in the technology world started…
Before Invsta, I predominantly worked as a solutions architect in the software space across many different industries, including retail, telecommunications and financial services. Having worked across different domains, and understanding problems from a grass-roots level across different industries helped to shape the ideas and solutions we built for Invsta – especially the experience I had working for some of New Zealand’s top financial service providers.
Back then, fintech was still quite new and I noticed that financial service providers didn’t quite see the value that fintech could bring. However, since Invsta was launched, there’s been a huge shift in how companies are embracing digital processes. Digital disruption is the new norm, and companies that are quick to implement technology are starting to see measurable and guaranteed return on interest.
3) Tell us about your experience with getting Invsta to where it is currently…
It’s been an incredibly interesting journey, filled with lots of growth and discovery. We really wanted to get to the heart of what the industry was struggling with, and that meant having to work with multiple stakeholders. From senior management of big banks through to end users and individual investors, this allowed us to get a comprehensive overview of the problems within the financial services space from multiple viewpoints.
As a solutions architect, this part of the process was incredibly exciting, as it presented a great opportunity to develop new technology solutions that were built around these problems and addressed the needs of all stakeholders.
Rachel Strevens, who co-founded Invsta with me, industry experience really helped us to nail down our product offering. When we got together, we knew that our solutions had to be ready-to-go when we hit the market, making it easier and quicker than ever before for wealth providers to implement fintech solutions. Hence why we chose to spend a long time researching, developing and testing our solutions to make sure that we stayed true to our vision, which is to power better financial experiences.
4) Your vision for the role that technology will play in financial services…
I have two visions – one vision for end investors and another for businesses. For end investors, technology will be the single biggest tool to help empower end investors. Thanks to the internet, information is so readily available to people. However, there is good information and disinformation, which can be really overwhelming for investors who want to better educate themselves. This is where wealth providers can really leverage emerging technology. If investors are more informed and educated through correct information supplied by their wealth providers, they are more likely to remain invested in their savings plans.
From a business point of view, technology will be crucial to help companies align better to their audiences and remain relevant in the face of a rapidly changing operating landscape. A great example is the number of neobanks that are popping up overnight, each targeting a specific segment, for example, freelancers and women. Customers are demanding one-on-one personalised contact and engagement, which has opened up the market to neobank innovators who are leveraging emerging technologies to meet the needs of their segments at scale. It’s only a matter of time before this shift happens in the wealth management space.
5) The biggest issue facing fintech entrepreneurs is…
One of the biggest challenges for B2B fintech founders is being able to work and coexist with incumbents. It’s important to understand what needs these incumbents have and why these needs exist so that you can create innovative solutions to address them. When competing against incumbents that have more funding and resources at their disposal, it’s crucial to identify opportunities where you can excel and create disruptive value. Challenge the status quo, but make sure that your offering is tangible and realistic for your market.
Funding is a big challenge as incumbents typically have bigger budgets and funding when compared to fintech startups. So make sure you get the most ROI for your spend and watch your cost of acquisition.
Another top challenge for fintech founders is meeting high growth rates to satisfy investors’ conditions of funding. Expected growth rates for fintech are typically modelled on the US market, which is much larger compared to New Zealand or Australia. Therefore, do your research and make sure that the expected growth rates are in line with local markets.
6) The best piece of advice you’ve received when starting Invsta…
There are three pieces of advice that have really resonated with me.
Firstly, as a founder, you need to be able to pick your battles. Even though there are a thousand fires burning, you need to pick your top 3 to 5 fires that you need to douse for the day. It can be overwhelming when you’ve got so many things you need to get through, but this piece of advice has really helped me to take a step back and analyse what the priority is for the day.
The second piece of advice I received was from Rachel. Remember to always celebrate the wins. Not only does it boost morale, but it helps to give you the energy and momentum to move forward.
Thirdly, find your niche and stick to it. While it’s important to evolve your business to adapt to market changes, don’t get sidetracked by new avenues that detract from your core value offering and vision.