Filling the Advice Gap: a startup opportunity


  • Defined Benefit pension from their employer guaranteeing a retirement income of 60% of their final salary.
  • Relationship with an IFA (Independent Financial Adviser) who invests their money in a balanced portfolio of funds and ensures they have the right life insurance, will and mortgage. They do pay too high a management fee which gives their IFA some nice commissions.
  • Speak to their insurance broker for any insurance purchase.
  • Bought a house in their youth, struggled to pay the mortgage when interest rates spiked but now have a substantial mortgage-free asset
  • Credit card is their main card, roll the balance & so pay high interest
  • Watch Martin Lewis and are always looking out for discounts


  • Defined Contribution pension through their employer (or even worse they are in the ~10% who turned down free money by opting out). They have no idea if it is enough for a comfortable retirement. Spoiler alert — it isn’t.
  • Don’t know what an IFA is and don’t have a will.
  • Have mobile phone insurance but not life insurance.
  • Select all their insurance/banking through comparison sites
  • Are renting or have an interest-only mortgage
  • Have some investments: a mix of crypto, shares and ETFs bought through a zero commission broker.
  • Switch savings account for a 0.1% better rate, but have no idea how much of their money to keep in cash
  • Don’t own a credit card but are a Klarna super-user
  • Using open banking and open finance to automate all data capture
  • Either a tech platform combining AI, algorithms for portfolio optimisation and bringing in a human coach where needed, or technology which allows human financial advisers to service 10x more clients without compromising on quality.
  • Something you can do on your mobile in the evening on the sofa.
  • Combination of video content, whatsapp-style conversations with AI and advisors, and if needed video chats.
  • Able to take a holistic view across all your financial affairs: property, job, assets, insurance, budget.
  • A personalised experience starting with the basics (get a pension) but able to go into areas like tax optimisation, international diversification and estate planning over time. Or multiple products for people of different levels of wealth and knowledge.
  • Potentially provided through your employer, who are increasingly taking responsibility for the financial wellness of their employees.
  • Alternatively delivered direct to consumer experience with a trusted front person — a younger (female?) version of Martin Lewis. Or like Peloton this could be a range of trusted instructors targeting different demographics: Olivia Amato gives investment advice to the 25–35 female Londoners earning six figures, while Alex Toussaint preaches discipline and motivation to couples struggling to get on the property ladder.
  • Independent of product providers.
  • Using social pressure and psychological techniques to provoke action.
  • Tracking ESG impact throughout.
  • Inertia. Financial planning is always at the end of someone’s to-do list. How do you bring urgency to this?
  • Regulation. It is hard to provide meaningful advice without becoming a regulated financial advisor, which then carries a lot of overhead and constraints.
  • Financial decisions come with lots of complexity, and often no right answer. However, there are plenty of wrong answers and for the vast majority of people there are clear actions that they need to take.
  • How to get paid as a provider while remaining completely independent. Ideally the adviser wouldn’t take commissions, but providers are willing to pay much more money for new customers than customers are willing to pay as an explicit fee. Maybe the compromise here is pay per lead, something like Adwords.
  • Typical pricing and commissions in sector are a % of AUM (assets under management) which makes targeting young people with smaller savings less attractive.



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Rob Moffat

Rob Moffat

Partner at Balderton Capital in London, working with Zego, Wagestream, Cleo, Carwow, Mojiworks, Primer, PlayPlay, Dream. Formerly Google & Bain.