Smart Money People: Helping people spend wisely

After working as a management consultant with a number of banks and insurance companies, entrepreneur Michael Fotis thought of an idea that would shake up the financial services industry. He told BQ how he came up with the idea for ‘Smart Money People’ and how he got the company off the ground.

Michael Fotis launched Smart Money People last year with the intention of providing a customer experience and review platform focused solely on the financial services industry.

After only nine months in business, Fotis secured a six figure investment from NorthStar Ventures and the company continued its impressive growth spout.

He told BQ: “Consumers can read and write customer reviews for over 400 financial organisations, thereby helping them to find the best products and providers based on customer experience.

“We also work with organisations to help generate better customer insight and help them to attract more customers.”

Speaking about what inspired him to launch the business, he said: “I think there’s a gap in the market that makes this a great time for Smart Money People.

“It’s hard for consumers to find independent information about all the financial organisations and products out there.

“For example, we can help consumers to find out more about their potential mortgage provider before they sign-up to a 30 year mortgage with them.

“It’s also a great challenge to take an idea, turn it into a live platform and lead a growing business!”

Michael decided to put his idea into practice himself when searching for finance and looked for the best avenues possible to help grow his own business. This led to him receiving backing from the TwentyThreeMile fund and NorthStar Ventures.

He continued: “We got an investment from Teesside-based TwentyThreeMile fund, which helped us to develop and launch Smart Money People.

“We completed a further funding round in July 2015, which included both Northstar Ventures and the TwentyThreeMile fund. This investment will help us to add to our team and expand our reach.”

His support hasn’t stopped there, as he is a firm believer of continuously receiving support to help him improve his business.

“Having a wide network to draw upon is important. I’m lucky that I number of informal mentors who I can reach out too, and I also find that speaking with a wide range of people is useful as it helps us to continuously develop our strategy.”

As always, there are a number of challenges facing start-up businesses. Especially, when you have a brand new idea you want to take to market.

Michael said: “A constant challenge for us is how we can expand our reach in the most cost effective way possible – after all every person in the UK uses at least some part of the financial services industry.

“As we also work with organisations, our efforts have to reach them in an equally cost effective way.”

Going forward the company is looking to work with more companies as well as consumers to further grow its product portfolio.

“Our targets are fairly clear. We want to grow by working with a broader range of organisations. Working with them to get customer reviews and using these reviews to help develop these organisations. We’ve also got some platform development plans that will help us to reach the next level.”

Michael believes the key reason the company stands out is its uniqueness, offering the only service of its kind in the UK.

He continued: “We are the UK’s only customer experience and review platform focused on the financial services industry.

“We also have a simple, but ambitious mission. We want to use reviews to help tackle the trust deficit in financial services and ultimately help consumers and companies alike.

“We’ve got some really interesting plans. We want to grow much bigger so that more consumers know about us, work with more great companies, and launch the next phase of our platform to help us to become the most useful and engaging platform out there.”

BQ will continue to follow Michael’s story as he continues to expand Smart Money People.