7 Questions- Startups

7 Questions with Til Klein, founder of BRIX Pension

1. Who are you?

I am Til, founder of BRIX, the first community-backed and fully digital pension for millennials. Before I became an entrepreneur, I was a Partner with the Boston Consulting Group in Berlin and worked for UBS in Zurich.

2. Which services do you sell and who are your competitors?

BRIX is the first digital community-backed pension plan without compromise: simple, flexible and secure.

Saving for your pension sucks: complex, inflexible and expensive. Current products do not fit non-linear biographies and UX expectations of millennial. Unlike banks and insurances, BRIX puts the customer back into the driver seat for his financial future. An unprecedented digital user experience combined with a community-backed pension product is truly unique proposition in a market.

3. How did you get your startup idea and how did you finance your startup?

Having worked in the financial industry for over 15 years, I was frustrated by the incumbents (and some FinTechs/InsurTechs) who are digitizing exiting business models rather than creating disruptive new business models. So, I was looking for an area where you can make a 10x improvement for customers in financial services. Private pension is definitely an area with 10x improvement potential in customer experience and in efficiency.

4. What were the biggest challenges in starting?

The biggest challenge is to make real (!) value creation for customer the strategic and operational focus. Given the huge challenges in financial services from regulation to security issue, there is always a strong temptation to fall back into old patterns. That is by the way why most incumbents fail to create real innovation.

5. What areas within FinTech do you personally find most interesting and why?

The digital revolution in financial services will have the biggest impact on developing markets. In countries like India, Indonesia or the Philippines new digital technology gives hundreds of millions access to basic financial services and will thus have a fundamental impact on their future.

In mature countries, there is also improvement potential but more in the range of 10% rather than 10x. Beyond pension savings :), one of the most interesting area is artificial intelligence in credit decisions and client advisory.

6. What opportunities do you see for FinTech startups in the DACH region, and how can we help to accelerate it?

While in Germany and Austria the regulatory regime and customer behaviour are more or less the same, the Swiss market is fundamentally different. Having worked in both markets, I see little room for a single D.A.CH strategy. Nevertheless, there is a great opportunity to learn from each other and great value from the exchange of experience.

7. What tip would you like to give FinTech entrepreneurs?

First, make customer focus the core of your strategy. Incumbents might have adopted the language, but definitely not yet the mind-set. That is why we see so much incremental change, but little real customer impact. Focus on banking by impact and (not only) by design.

Second, get your hands dirty. Real value creation in banking is based on balance sheet, asset and risk management. Distribution is important, but not the main value lever in banking.  A “wash me but don’t get me wet” approach won’t lead you to a sustainable business model.