In six months with Stockspot, CMO Melanie Novacan has put her experience in media, entertainment, finance and telecommunications to good use. We talked to her about the role she sees for content in this now five-year-old challenger brand.
What are the main benefits of Stockspot?
Stockspot is literally like having a pot of hundreds of stocks that is being managed for you. So while the share market may seem complicated and overwhelming to a lot of people, we take all that hassle and complication away.
Our clients’ portfolios have five different ETFs that cover Australian shares, global shares, emerging markets, bonds and gold. We believe this is the best approach for long-term success when you invest. And that ‘passive’ investing outperforms ‘active’ investing in the long run. (Instead of buying and selling shares and wasting returns on brokerage fees, just hold a mix of assets across different categories.)
Having everything online allows our technology to create the right investment portfolio for each client with a mix of these five ETFs based on how long they want to invest for, and how much risk they are willing to take to get a good return. This also keeps the costs low – because the technology is doing all the hard work in managing the investment portfolio.
When might the Robo-adviser (the technology) turn a customer down?
If a customer doesn’t have a rainy day fund for instance. We recommend everyone has a minimum three to six months of living expenses saved. Anything over and above that is what you’d put into an investment portfolio. It’s funds you’ve got that you don’t need to touch for three, if not five years.
We want to inspire Australians and give them the access to accumulate wealth and because you can do it all online it’s easily accessible. But at the same time, you don’t want to dip into your investment portfolio too frequently and treat it like a bank account because you’re just going to diminish your returns.
It’s all about “time in the market rather than timing the market”.
Six months in, can you give us a sense of your plan of attack for Stockspot’s content, and the role content plays alongside your brand advocacy push?
It’s playing a huge role – content gives us the ability to educate everyday Australians about investing and good financial habits.
We run reports every year on all of the exchange traded funds in Australia and globally; Chris our CEO does that himself, he spends a lot of time producing content for our clients. And it is our number one source of growth from a client perspective. The blog generates a lot of interest.
(Content) is our number one source of growth from a client perspective.
I did some analysis on those people who do join Stockspot, and on average they’ll read at least three, if not more of our blog articles before they join so it really is a powerful tool for us.
The other main source of growth is referrals and word of mouth and having a consistent content engine can fuel that. It gives people the opportunity to have conversations about things that they’ve learnt from us, and read about, or had questions asked of them.
We’re a digital disrupter, a challenger brand; we’re not going to do traditional advertising. We’ll continue with a content-led approach for our marketing, because it is all about being able to tell those stories that are of interest to people.
And education is critical. We need to educate Australians that there are alternatives to traditional fund managers. That you can get better returns than a traditional term deposit. Education about online investing (robo advice), about ETFs, about passive investing. We have a lot of work to do on that here in Australia where we are about five years behind America and Canada.
How do you see other players in the financial services industry falling short with their content?
I think they fall down when their inherent business objectives aren’t linked in with the needs of the customer. Often they say, “the client should always come first”, but quite often business priorities are not aligned with that.
Our content is all based on what is in the best interests of Australians and for our clients. Some clients want more sophisticated in-depth analysis of the ETFs in our portfolios, while a lot just want to understand more about ‘passive’ investing.
There are a lot of fintechs and traditional institutions trying to use this idea of helpful finance – “putting the best interests of Australians at heart” – how will you get your content to stand out?
It comes down to the quality of the insight and quality of the content. The whole premise of Stockspot was built on making something that was typically either unaffordable or too complex and confusing, and simplifying it, making it more easily accessible to Australians.
Making that sexy is the challenge and one of the things we’ve talked about is “making boring brilliant”. Our approach has been to put Chris in front of the media as much as possible because he can talk about it in such an easy-to-understand and digestible way. And it shows that there is a face to the brand which is important, especially in the finance industry.
That’s why Chris started the business in the first place; he was an investment banker for UBS, and his friends and family were always asking how they could invest their bonus or spare cash so that it would earn money.
So there was definitely an opportunity and a role for a digital brand to make that much more accessible to Australians.
We are just another digital brand in a cluttered landscape, but having a people-centred narrative is what’s going to set us apart.