Q&A- Startups

7 Questions with Paul Becker of LIQID

1. Who are you?

I am a co-founder and head of marketing at LIQID.

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

LIQID is a digital wealth management service for private investors with liquid assets in excess of 100.000 €. We offer a range of “core” investment strategies developed in partnership with HQ Trust, the multi-family office of the Harald Quandt family – one of the largest and most established in Europe. In addition, we provide investors with access to a range of “satellite” investment opportunities in areas such as private equity. The idea is to level the playing field for affluent investors by providing them with access to the terms, strategies and asset classes previously reserved for the ultra rich.

Our service experience is fully digital – from our initial assessment of an investor’s risk tolerance to the continuous monitoring of the client portfolios. Unusually for a digital player we provide our clients with a personal advisor if required. This helps build trust and drives conversion.

Our primary competitors are the established private banks who have, however, generally started to abandon our target group of clients with €250k – €2M in investable assets over the past few years. We obviously keep an eye on a number of digital players but don’t generally think of them as competition as this is not – as this stage – a zero sum game.

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

Driven by their previous experience – which ranges from finance and private banking to media and technology – our founding team approached the wealth management industry from two main angles: that of (disappointed) clients and that of (former) industry insiders.

As a client looking for trustworthy experts to look after your money, you currently find yourself faced with an intransparent and internally-focused industry where the best investment opportunities are reserved for the richest investors. These also pay substantially lower fees than merely affluent clients. Providers, on the other hand, find themselves suffering from high complexity and low automation in their customer-facing and internal operations.

LIQID is our response to these challenges. At the core of our offer is a scalable, automated digital platform that delivers wealth management services previously only available to the very rich. We are financed by a number of well-known investors including HQ Trust, Dieter von Holtzbrinck Ventures and Project A Ventures.

4. What were the biggest challenges in starting?

Among the many challenges I would highlight the operational and legal set-up. In addition, building a team with the right skill set and negotiating collaborations with external partners that worked for them but also allowed us the flexibility we require certainly wasn’t easy.

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

Investing, I suppose. From a private investor’s point of view, there has been very limited innovation over the last few years, with the discount brokers of the 1990s standing out as the last major game change.

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

Compared to the UK and the US, FinTech is still a fairly new topic in Continental Europe. That being said, I think there is great potential.

With a view to wealth management in particular, there is an important generational change on the way, with large amounts of wealth accumulated over the past 30+ years passing to a new, digitally savvy generation. The heirs of these assets expect a contemporary type of wealth management experience, similar to digital services they are already familiar with in other areas of daily life. No more oak-panelled rooms, but handy tablets. No more opacity, but transparent pricing. No more coffees with an adviser, but access to advice at a time in and in a format of their choosing. These are the key drivers for the FinTech revolution.

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

FinTech has its own rules compared to other areas of digital business – especially with a view to the regulatory aspects, but also as regards customer expectations. In general, it takes a lot of patience and a strong team with complementary expertise in the financial and technology industries.