Top tips from Stuart Kagan.
1. Consistent communication.
I think what I found is, is everyone talking about that open communication has been that big piece for us, particularly over the past few years, where you’re dealing with people who are wanting to remote, we have had periods of working remote and how you build a culture. So really clear, consistent communication across teams about the bigger vision and how that’s executing
2. Monday Toast
And that’s sort of new to me, but something that the tech team brought to us as we do every morning, Monday toast. So Monday morning, all hands in the office at money and round a coffee in the kitchen. And as a chance for groups of two within each team each week, some of these different and it’s a shout out to things that people have done well successes, update on business metrics, and update on what key things that each team are working on, and what’s on the roadmap. And so it’s a moment for all of us to keep connected to come together all as a team again.
business, big, great, team, people, kiwis, investment, kiwi, customers, build, involved, company, technology, challenges, working, felt, funds, grow, australia, new zealand
Dean Anderson 00:00
Different communication has been that big piece for us, particularly over the past few years where you’re dealing with people who are wanting to remote, we’ve had periods of working remote and how you build a culture. So really clear, consistent communication across teams about the bigger vision and how that’s executing. So little things that we do now. And that sort of new to me, but something that the tech team brought to us as we do every morning, Monday toast. So Monday morning, all hands in the office at 9am around a coffee in the kitchen. And as a chance for groups of two within each team. Each week somebody is different. And it’s a shout out to things that people have done well successes, update on business metrics, and update on what key things that each team are working on, and what’s on the roadmap and so
Debra Chantry-Taylor 00:49
So welcome to another edition of better business better life. Today. I’m joined by Dean Anderson, who is the founder and CEO of Colonel and Colonel is a financial services technology firm that helps you save and invest Am I got that right? Perfect? Yes, great. Excellent. Now I’ve just been talking to Dean and hearing about his story and you’re not a tech person, but you now run a successful successful tech company with about 35 people you just love about how you got to be in that situation.
Dean Anderson 01:16
So we are are effectively a fintech. But we are a FinTech with a founding team has come from sort of the fun side of the equation, which is probably a little bit unusual, many FinTech seem to be formed, fried by a technology led mindset. And so about three and a half, four years ago, actually. So end of 2018 decided actually, we felt there was an opportunity to build a better financial provider that was going to align to the to Kiwis long term financial needs, that there was a gap where many Kiwis out there don’t have a financial partner in their life that’s aligned to their interests. So we don’t have a relationship with the bank anymore. It’s very hard to get access to financial advice. So where do you go to help manage your money and build your wealth and give you that financial security you need. And so we wanted to build a really strong brand and platform that enabled people to focus on the habits that actually build long term wealth. But underpinning that was also the investment tools that people needed to actually achieve those goals. And so we started by becoming a licensed fund manager. We’ve found out how we’re going to publish the business, raise capital, establish a small team and applied for a license through the Financial Markets Authority. That license enabled us to launch our own set of funds. We started on that journey, then obviously, subsequently have also launched our own platform that we enable people to manage their investments and KiwiSaver through and have sort of grown grown from there over the last three and a half years.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 02:39
And you were saying before, like it’s actually quite difficult, because when you’re a startup, often you can bootstrap things, right, you can go minimum viable product, go out there, give it a launch, puts more money in as in when you need to. But when you’re in the financial services sector, that’s just not possible as it
Dean Anderson 02:53
Yeah, correct. And particularly like a tech business today, many tech businesses will start by somebody at home and just let’s launch something and see how it goes, we’ll iterate on it. But with funds management, and being a licensed provider of investments and KiwiSaver. To get that license, it’s quite a rigorous process, which which you would expect, you know, we have really significant regulations in New Zealand, which protect kiwis. And to get through that, we pass we were the first to go through the four new regulations that came in place in 2016. And so to establish that business, you effectively have to have a fully formed business on day one, we had to have a board or the governance policies, operating manuals, every sort of detail about how we would operate. But we also had to have third parties involved. So they were companies like a fun administration. So they’re the ones that calculate the unit prices and all the tax, you have a supervisor who you legally have to have, which is sort of the eyes and ears for the regulator that all KiwiSaver and all fund managers have. So we had to have these third parties, who will be our suppliers also buy into the vision, an idea of what we’re going to launch and commit to being involved in it. And then we’re to have a whole bunch of capital. So you had to have a fully formed business ready to go and launch. But there was no way to test your concept. So you had to have people really committed to and thinking, right, we really analyze this, we’ve looked at the market opportunity. We understand the sector that we’re playing in, it’s incredibly competitive. We’re up against the big banks, and backcast to launch this thing on day one without ability to kind of do that bootstrapping. So it is a quite a significant upfront investment, versus maybe more traditional businesses where you can start a bit smaller and find your way through it over time.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 04:43
And why what kind of motivated us to start this I mean, understanding seeing a gap in the market, but you know, you had a very good job with the index. You’ve been there for many, many years. To leave that and go out on your own is a big, big jump or a big leap of faith.
Dean Anderson 04:56
So the big thing right, so I spent seven years led Citrix a lot of that time working in indexing and ETFs and investments and love what we did there and love that corporate culture. By the time I actually so when I actually left into the x, it wasn’t set up. So it was quite interesting. I just felt like I had done my dash yet I had a number of different roles within the exchange, and have an opportunity after selling a house and willing to go, you know what, actually, I feel like, yeah, I don’t know where I want to go further within this organization. And I just decided, actually, I’m done now. And I’m going to just see what happens next. And it’s quite an interesting experience. And I actually spoke to somebody on this at the time, and I said, the best thing they would have known was being made redundant, because it forces you to really look at what do you want to do? Where do you want to go? What’s important to you. So I took some time out, did a bit of contracting realize, actually, I’m young, I had no dependents, I didn’t have a mortgage, I had some money from a house sale. So if I don’t try something, now, it’s gonna get harder and harder to make that call. And for me, it’s always been about a passion of building things. I love seeing things grow, I love the roles I’ve often been involved in been helping grow businesses and helping deliver better outcomes for customers. And we are I I felt I was misaligned was a lot of things that happened within financial services, a very institutional, have been done in the interest of the corporate, and the customer really does come at the bottom of the rung. And for me, it was, well, we have the ability here, unlike many others to start with a clean sheet of paper and go, if you were going to do something today, to build a better outcome for customers, where you could use whatever modern technology like and you could design a whole business model around the customer, how would you do it? And felt actually, this is where we think this is going this is how we think the business should look. And this is where we think we can make an impact and decided, okay, let’s Let’s rally around that, and let’s do it.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 06:53
So I’m really interested because you as you said, you’re from a financial background, the tech background, and what yet what you’ve built is very much a tech platform. So how did you get people involved in the business from the technology side? And how did you make sure they were the right people?
Dean Anderson 07:08
That is the big challenge. So when we started, the big focus for us initially was on building investment pieces. So building these index funds that were more fee and tax efficient for consumers. And we use a third party platform. So the tech piece initially was an outsourced provider that we weren’t labeled. And that was just because ultimately, when we started, there was three of us, you know, three of us and we were running all the funds ourselves and running the business to do technology at the same time. That’s a it’s a big undertaking. And then it was probably just under AOA, the bit of 18 months later, we decided it actually now was the time that actually we want to take control of our own technology journey. We wanted to build a platform where we could control how people interact with their money, how they set goals, how they view KiwiSaver, and how to make those initial hires. And that was quite an interesting process. Because, you know, it is a bit like, I’m sure somebody from a technology background talking to me about financial services sector, it is foreign language. We’re not like a translator. So we didn’t need a translator. And we’re very fortunate, though, to have somebody early in our team who had worked in an agency and kind of acted as a translator for us and was able to connect those dots. And the best thing that we’ve had was we were very, very fortunate to have a great hire comes through the door or candidate comes through the door who came with his to do list of what he would do in 90 days, and some really good insights and, and, and a lot of homework on us, our existing platform, the flaws of the feature. And so instantly, it was a great cultural fit and was very good at articulating that concept across to us on the on the sort of fun side of the equation, and could see how we need to talk between parties on weighing the decision making we make the platform and the technology investments versus the commercials and how you go through that thought process. So through translation, and some good candidates were able to get the early foundations in place. And then that’s helped lead the establishment of the team and our upskilling across the business over time.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 09:18
So you’ve got 35 staff now I’m interested to know sort of what what percentage would be technology and development people versus sales marketing operations, probably
Dean Anderson 09:26
5050 on that. So 50% on the tip now and the rest is on the operation of the funds and the marketing and the customer support and everything else. Yeah.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 09:34
And so what’s the difference between you know, when there were three of you working from were you working in offices? Were you working from your Okay, yep. So three to working in office together, to having 35 staff, I think the biggest differences that you have seen in that growth period, that journey.
Dean Anderson 09:48
It’s interesting because you look back, you do look back and you always seem to get everything done with three people. How does it feel like we’re scrambling and always short of time or always behind on things? When there’s 35 people, yeah, it feels like you constantly you have more staff that there have more problems, more things you want to do. Right. So that doesn’t change. It’s been going through that process of us now that that, you know, there was probably a year ago, that missing middle part where you start to slip from being a small business where you kind of across every detail, and everybody knows what’s going on. And we’re in one room together, too. Now, we’ve got to the other side of that, where we’ve got teams, and you’re not across every detail, and you’re empowering those teams to be able to make decisions and act on their own. And that’s that big. That’s that big leap, and that big change. And you have to just work through that and have good dialogue, because there will be growing pains through that. And people need to understand how that process and the workflow changes over time. Because you go from being a small group, where you’re one team involved in everything involved in all decisions, to now having teams are empowered and making decisions who are interacting with each other, and how do you keep that culture alive? And how do you keep people focused on our mission? That’s a big change.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 11:10
How do you how do you keep us focused on you know, the bigger picture.
Dean Anderson 11:15
So we last year, I wrote a big vision narrative for the business, which I thought was timely when we sort of grow on the team. And we’re really focusing on where we’re going with the technology side. And so that really was sort of the underpinnings, I guess, the big multi decade vision of where we think the sector, and the opportunity is and where we play and where we don’t play. So that that’s the big lens that I think people really rally around. That’s what we stand for. And our values, then is trying to break that down. And because that’s, that’s a long way off. And there are multiple pathways to get into that. And then we have a whole bunch of frameworks in place that enable us now to distill these big rocks and break them down into smaller rocks, that we can tackle and that the teams can understand and grasp and execute on incrementally over time that keep us moving towards that longer vision. Because you do need that structure, you do need to be able to put in place measurable targets, and how are we going to achieve on things. And so we’ve we’ve tried a few different methods recently, we’ve just gone to sort of this big room planning approach where a group of people sit down, and we that prioritizes what we’re building for the month, and everybody has a voice and input into what we need to prioritize and what what challenges and opportunities there are for us. And then we weigh each of those off and how they fit into that that longer term opportunity.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 12:31
So where do you see the industry kind of headed, without giving away any kind of secrets? But where do you where do you see it going?
Dean Anderson 12:37
And the big thing for us that what we are experienced a lot of is the biggest market and the biggest problem is the typical average kiwi. Because if you think about the the financial services sector at the moment, if you’re an average Kiwi out there. You know, I remember my parents used to have a strong relationship with the bank, who had a bank manager. They’re always the same person. You said a lot of support everything. Yeah, exactly. And I experienced on the business side, I think anybody’s listening here he’s got a business will know how hard it is to deal with a bank these days, trying to find somebody to talk to I we’ve been banking, in business banking with one of the big banks since day dot. And we’ve had many roles, transactions, term deposits, all sorts of activity. I’ve never had a call from anybody, really. So a we seem to be anonymous in the system,
Debra Chantry-Taylo 13:32
which can be good and bad, I suspect. But yeah, the challenges of
Dean Anderson 13:35
you know, I wanted another con for our team, you know, when there are expenses, cat type thing? Yep. And we need to produce financial statements and predictions and all sorts of things to get a camera. So can we just get a debit card? No, you’ve already got one, you can’t have another so you can have a credit card. And as I saved all the stuff that we don’t actually need to credit, can we just have a card? And it’s incredibly painful, right? So I think many people experience the challenges of dealing with bank. But the average Kiwi out there has no real relationship with the bank anymore. It’s increasingly through compliance and regulatory changes, it’s harder and harder to get access to financial advice. So if you wanted to speak to an investment banker, today increasingly very common that you need to have a million dollars, you know, that’s just as a thresholds where they just don’t have the time or resources to deal with anything smaller. So Australia, over the past few three or four years has lost 100,000 financial advisors, and the percent of the population that now has access to advices less than 10%. So if you can’t get access, when you say last last to lift the sector, regulatory changes became too much for them, trying to manage their own business. And trying to be an advisor meant that actually they decided
Debra Chantry-Taylor 14:44
They weren’t doing what they were loving right so that you
Dean Anderson 14:47
Run with customers. You’re not doing the things you’d love you to just dealing with regulation or reporting. So no relationship with the bank, no access to advice. The other big one, I think is changing as a lot less interest for or you know, somebody who’s 3040 Today in investment property, you know, a, you need a lot of money upfront, but it is draining I’ve been I’ve had investment properties and I speaking to a friend over the weekend, who sold theirs and say, it’s actually really nice not having a property, managing tenants and all the other things, as you know, it’s hard work. So, all of these Kiwis out there who have busy social lives, physical reliance, how do you build wealth? Like how do you build your financial security? Where do you have a partner that actually is intuitive that you have confidence in is aligned to your interests? That was where we see that cultural gap. And so how do we help give people the tools that they need, the experience, and that brand alignment of values that they have trust, and that they can go, oh, great, this is actually a place where I can, over the next few decades, set out my financial goals, achieved those financial goals, and know that I’m going to have that financial security down the line. And so that’s kind of where we see ourselves. And I think we’re seeing a lot more engagement when it comes to this thing of the past few years. But equally people have realized recently that good investing isn’t about picking stocks, has nothing to do with stock picking or timing the markets, it’s actually the habits and things like low cost index funds are the bread and butter core tools that anybody could be using to set up and automate their investments. And so you know, 30 40% of our customers just have an automated investment plan. They come online, they create an account, and they automate it all. And then they carry on with the rest of their lives. And they have the confidence to do that. A really interesting narrative that we’ve noticed around property, though, which I think is a really important conversation that more queue is in here, because we’re not big when it comes to talking about money and finances. We did some analysis to look at what does the future look like for a 25 year old today. And we wanted to run some scenarios given that we now have KiwiSaver and said, somebody that’s 25 today, how important is buying a property for their financial future and financial security, we ran all the scenarios in terms of somebody contributing KiwiSaver. And if they hadn’t regal investment plan, what you found was actually, you could have an equal amount of financial security and wealth in retirement from investing, as buying a property, ie you don’t know you no longer need to feel like property is the only way to achieve financial security, which is what a lot of generations have, have thought and have talked about. Yep. And it was interesting, because stuff picked the article up and their content, and they published it. And it was apparently one of the most commented on, like the most amount of complaints that had come into them complaints. Okay, calling them Nazis and everything like incredibly extreme views, because, you know, they, they clearly there is a strong bias towards property in this market. And it really highlighted that. But it missed the point. The point was that today with these modern investment solutions and platforms, and with KiwiSaver the generations now have choice. It’s not about one or the other, but you have choice, and you have the ability to decide as a property right for you. Is it right for your goals in life? When do you want to buy it because I’m a case in point, I’m much happier renting and not having the stress of homeownership, because I’m wanting to focus on establishing a business. And that’s important to me. And that’s what I enjoy doing. And I have that flexibility to do that and confidence to do that, knowing that things like KiwiSaver, and everything else gives me the financial security that I will need and years to come. And so I think that’s a much more promising future for Kiwis out there today, where they know that there are tools out there through Q seven investing that give them that flexibility, and you shouldn’t feel pressured into buying a house or that FOMO effect.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 18:53
It is funny, one of my very good friends, Stanley Henry, who runs the attention seeker, he would be I don’t know how old he is, I’m gonna say suggest perhaps late 20s, early 30s. And he doesn’t know how it’s either. And he’s absolutely got no desire at all. He actually believes he can make more money by building businesses and creating business wealth, and then investing it in the right places and actually owning a home. But I’m 53 this year and and I was brought up it was like, Well, you have to buy a house. It’s your first thing and then a rental property if you can afford it. And I think the next generation, we’re taught to buy lots of rental properties. But yeah, it’s it’s good to see things changing. It’s good, isn’t it? There’s different ways and you’ve got choice, living the life that you want to live as opposed to life that somebody wants you to live? Correct. Yeah, that’s fantastic. Okay, so when going back a few steps. I mean, when you first started the business, you actually started it just before COVID. Right. Yeah. How was that?
Dean Anderson 19:42
So we went through we I started on the concept in 2018. And then decided to actually we raised some capital early 2019. And it takes nearly a year to get a license to
Debra Chantry-Taylor 19:52
Be able to operate. So a year were a lot of money. Yes, that’s right.
Dean Anderson 19:55
And the challenging part with that is, there are times when everything you’ve built you are now Hands over and at submitted to the regulator, and you sit in silence for several months. And it’s like, well, what do we do? That’s a waiting game, which was not that enjoyable. We got the license in August 2019. And we launched the first investment funds and September 2019. And then obviously, was six months after that, that that COVID Strike. And, and that was pretty significant. Yeah.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 20:27
Because I think you were saying that you, you had to have people believe in an idea and a concept everything else. Yeah. Without any proof of it. So and if you’d been a little bit later,
Dean Anderson 20:36
yeah. Because obviously, when it comes to investments and money, and financial services, trust is the big factor, right, which is why people still have so much tied up with the backs, you know, there is this perception of trust, right? We were probably very fortunate, like many business success stories, right. There’s always an element of luck in here and challenges and opportunities to come along the way as well. And, you know, we were lucky in the sense that we had a few people like advisors and others who knew who we were, and believed in our ability to deliver on what we said we would do, and started using us early and got involved early, and we had enough customers that we were set up enough to get to the other side of that COVID. Hill, if we had, unfortunately launched, you know, a few months later. It’s not hard to conceive how challenging it would be to say to somebody, Greg COVID, hurt, there is just this unprecedented uncertainty, we have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow. Why don’t you place your hard earned money with this new company that’s been around two months in a global pandemic. So we had just gotten enough scale and enough customers who stuck with us and you know, saw the longer term vision and continue to use a su COVID, that actually gave us the opportunity to double down on what we did. But it did take a lot to make sure our shareholders and everybody saw that big vision and backed us. And that’s a communication.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 22:02
Exactly, yeah. Okay, cool. So, biggest challenge, what do you think has been the absolute biggest challenge from going from being, you know, working for somebody to being your own business owner? What do you think is your biggest challenge so far?
Dean Anderson 22:16
The big thing is growing teams, right? Yeah, I think you know, that’s such a critical factor, you know, your team and the ability you have, you don’t have a team that clearly understands what we’re doing, and understands the need to execute on these things. And we’re a startup, you know, we are a startup and anybody who is involved in business will understand that, you know, we have things that we need to deliver on, and you’re trying to grow our business, but you have constrained resources. And so how do you operate within that. And so there was that big period of going from a small team of, you know, half a dozen of us where we knew and influence everything, you know, we were able to control everything. We were the owners of our destiny, we knew exactly what we were talking about. Yeah, because we’re very experienced in it. And we just got on and did stuff. And then now fast forward as part of that growth, you have to grow a team and, and we’re now having to empower individual teams, rather than one team, to be able to make decisions to understand the bigger problem to work together, to have the competencies to operate within this sphere. And also make sure that teams communicate to each other. And you keep that culture. And that’s, that’s challenging. I think we did a fairly good job of it. A good example is, particularly on the technology side, if you think about what happened over the past few years, it became incredibly competitive for technology talent, and it was a war on and, and you did have accelerate, salaries were just astronomical and expectations, because banks and others were just paying anything. And, again, communication was really key there. And so for us, we were really open about look what this is where we think it’s at. And making sure people understood that we cared deeply about them as staff just as much as our customers, and that we are building a long term business that’s sustainable here. And the last thing we wanted to do was hire unsustainably or pay unsustainable salaries. That would have meant in 12 to 18 months time, unfortunately, sorry, we now need to cut it staff or cut cut salaries. And so we were really opened during that period and talked through that and said, Look, you may be tempted, but just take caution because people had mortgages, they had kids. And what we’ve been fortunate to get to now as they started to see the reality of that about 12 months ago, where that space changed quite quickly, you saw the layoffs over in the US. And all of a sudden there was wasn’t as much competitive tension for the developers. It’s a global resource, right? And you stand at the sea locally, even big names like zero, laying off hundreds of sites. And I think that faith in us and how we treat it that our staff has really cemented a strong culture within the team because they understand that actually, we care just about as much about the exact customers that you are part of this family in this business. And we’re not just going to treat you like a number, we’re not just going to hire people for the sake of hiring. And we’re not just going to pay anything because it’s got to be sustainable. And that’s going to be beneficial to everybody over the long term, because I think a lot of people have been hurt where companies have gone too quickly, and made unsustainable promises. And it’s subsequently meant that they’ve had to pull back on their workforce and made a bunch of people redundant, which isn’t a pleasant experience, particularly as mortgage rates are going up and cost of living is going up.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 25:45
Absolutely. So are all of your team here in New Zealand? Or do you have
Dean Anderson 25:50
A competitive scene? Kiwi, everything’s fine. Our Auckland office.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 25:53
Nice. Okay, cool. I’m just thinking about if you had to go back to your younger self, is there any advice you would give yourself now?
Dean Anderson 26:02
The big thing? Yeah, the big thing for me, that sort of touched on, before we jumped on was, you know, when you’re young, you don’t necessarily know exactly where you want to be, or what your careers going to look like. I always had a passion about getting involved with things and growing stuff. And I studied finance, because it was the closest thing for me that felt like understanding the business world and how business operated. But it wasn’t the perfect that it was just an area that sort of felt related, or something I was interested in. And in those early days of my career, particularly I started in incidents, I started in the energy team. And the best thing I think I ever did, and something I really encourage people today as being vocal about when I felt like I needed another opportunity, when I needed the new challenge, because it’s very easy to sit there and then decide, actually, now I’m a bit over this and look for something else, I’m bored. But I said, I said, I don’t know what I want to do. I feel like I’m kind of done with the CRS and the imagery team, say I just want another challenge, I’ll say something else. And then that got me involved into the data team. And then that team was part of a business called Smart shears, and got me involved in the indexing and ETF space. And that all happened over sort of 18 months. And I worked at a couple of those roles concurrently. And started to find What really excited me what I was really passionate about and able to grow into those opportunities and my career progress a lot quicker internally because of that, and my commitment to taking on challenges and executing on them. And, you know, that ultimately is led to where I am today. And I encourage a lot of people out there to be proactive and vocal about when you want to take on a challenge or you need a new opportunity. Because I think you’d be surprised that the response you get from an employer and good businesses will embrace you like good businesses will want to keep telling what to foster you and want you to grow. Absolutely, yeah, yeah. And I had really good managers, and really good managers who supported that, who weren’t just trying to keep you on the team, because, you know, they’ll focus on their own, you know, KPIs. When you’ve got good managers and good business leaders. They look beyond their immediate here and now and they will go great. Yep. That how do we make your career success? And how do we foster that, and enjoyable, that’s a win for everybody.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 28:20
I completely agree. I did very much the same in my kind of early career as well. But even in my later career, I was working at the Ice House, I actually started off as a start up business coach, and then I get quite easily bored. It’s like, well, what else can I do? And they’re like, Well, what else do you want to do? I would love just market validation, got involved market validation, with snowball throughout their whole FEMA stuff as well. And then it was like, write a storm water do well, what about establishments is love to do it. And you know, I think as long as you they’re aware that you are able to take on more, then they will look for ways to keep you interested and keep you going. Whereas I don’t know if you’re bored. They don’t have this. You’re not being micromanaged. I don’t know what you’re up to. Exactly.
Dean Anderson 28:56
Yeah. And that’s a big thing now for us internally, you know, how do we show and present opportunities for people to grow and we’re really proactive. We have a small team, we don’t have layers of hierarchy. But when somebody is taking on new responsibilities, we champion them we promoted internally so people know that, you know, there’s there is a culture of taking responsibility and building your own career and and owning that. You made a really
Debra Chantry-Taylor 29:17
Interesting comment before you come to the podcast about, you know, obviously being an entrepreneur. It does take some balls, let’s be honest, and it comes with some stresses and some things that we know not everybody enjoys. So there’s there a way to be involved in entrepreneurship without actually having to be the business owner.
Dean Anderson 29:34
And we’ve had some like, I’ve had a couple of people on our team who have been involved basically since day dot. And they’ve talked about this and hearing it from the their, their lens where they didn’t want to be in the traditional space. They didn’t want to be in a corporate or they’ve been there and felt like they wanted another challenge. But they knew that being the founder per se or taking on that pure responsibility wasn’t for them, you know? They liked the space but didn’t want to doing all of that wasn’t for them. Yeah. And so there is that pathway for people that you don’t have to be the founder of a company to get involved with sort of an entrepreneurial space or to be effectively sort of an entrepreneur, you can get involved with these young and growing companies and make an impact, and, you know, really shaped where you want to go. But without necessarily having everything tied up on the line. And, yeah,
Debra Chantry-Taylor 30:28
And so when you’re looking to engage new people, when you’re employing new people, what do you look for?
Dean Anderson 30:33
Yeah, great one, we’ve historically, we try and avoid as much as possible, just putting out a JD and filling for a JD, it’s just not approach, we tend to put them out as a guidance, and then kind of gives a sense of where we need. And as we’ve found great talent, or somebody will come up through that, it’s like, great, you would actually be great for either your skill sets, or your experience and your cultural fit to the business, it’d be great to have you in here and we’ll find a way for you to add value, and we can add value for you. And then then we realize on the back of that will be the next gaffers. And as you start to look for slightly different skill sets, or the next in the next demands. And so we’ve kind of organically grown through that process of just bringing on great people that have the skill sets and talents that fill some of the demands that we have, and just backfill from there over time. And COVID has been great in that sense, because we’ve had some people have come back from overseas, for example, who were looking who didn’t want a traditional job. And we were like, great. You’ve got some amazing skill sets that traditionally wouldn’t be accessible to us. We can make something work here. Now, it was on our roadmap to do something in this space. At some point, yeah, we didn’t know when or what it’s gonna look like, but you’d be a great fit to maybe help lead that when you come on board. And let’s just get going with it, you can actually help prioritize and shape the business around the right people, rather than just putting jadis out and filling that box.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 32:02
Fair enough. So tell me from a company point of view, obviously a New Zealand based company of his working in New Zealand, looking after Kiwi kind of consumers, and he plans to take it offshore in the future, again, without giving any secret sauce. But yeah,
Dean Anderson 32:17
It’s it’s definitely the problems we’re talking about, which is how do people manage this as savings, investment retirement? These are global problems. I think the relationship with banks, global problems, the housing accessibility, all of these issues are global fact that one of the big challenges was financial services. Is that why you don’t see many big global financial services? It’s very hard, as the regulations with financial services are different in every single market. Yeah. And so it’s, it’s a really challenging way to scale a business. You know, it’s not just a general piece of technology, you can roll out, yeah, relatively light.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 32:57
But it’s all my software as a service, which can pretty much go
Dean Anderson 33:01
Building some amazing gaming companies. Right? And you can build something and release it to a global audience overnight. Yeah. Not quite as easy with financial services. But we’ve got pretty big ambitions for not only New Zealand, but longer term. And we’ll look to do that. Well. I think the interesting one here is, you know, where we see people making a lot of interesting business moves, a lot of Kiwis tend to want to jump to Australia as the next step across all sectors, and I think people underestimate how different Australia is. And we’ve got a couple of Australians in our team and very good insight to that are quite culturally different. It’s a very different business environment. And you know, I think it’s interesting and thinking about all do you actually go to Australia, there are other markets that may be better for many Kiwi businesses across many sectors, actually. Because there’s been a lot of companies who, over the decades, I’ve tried to go to Australia and realize quickly that you can’t just rinse and repeat what you’ve done in New Zealand.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 34:01
I always say because I’ve actually been, we’ve been quite fortunate. I grew up in the UK, moved to Australia, lived there for 10 years lived here for 20 odd years, and I’ve worked in the US as well. And I actually think Australia and the US are very, very similar in terms of the way they approach business and their attitude, everything. And I think that New Zealand is far more British and it’s in so some maybe a Canada or a UK is actually a better option. I don’t know. Yeah, I agree.
Dean Anderson 34:22
Because Australia is very competitive. Yeah, it’s very cutthroat and, and people I don’t many Kiwi businesses, even very large businesses in New Zealand. We all just kind of don’t rock the boat. Yep. Stick to our little corner and we’re not too aggressive. And we’re all just happy days kind of get along type thing that Australia is more like USA people will progressive businesses are aggressive, that hungry. And that’s quite a culturally different environment for many Kiwis to go into. Yeah,
Debra Chantry-Taylor 34:53
No, I completely agree. Yeah. Interesting. Okay. We’re running out of time. So I’m gonna have to ask you in terms of tips and tools What would be the three kind of key things that you would share with anybody listening in?
Dean Anderson 35:04
Yeah, look, the big thing for us, I think what I found is, is everyone talking about that open communication has been that big piece for us, particularly over the past few years, where you’re dealing with people who are wanting to remote, we have had periods of working remote and how you build a culture. So really clear, consistent communication across teams about the bigger vision and how that’s executing. So little things that we do now. And that’s sort of new to me, but something that the tech team brought to us as we do every morning, Monday toast. So Monday morning, all hands in the office at money and round a coffee in the kitchen. And as a chance for groups of two within each team each week, some of these different and it’s a shout out to things that people have done well successes, update on business metrics, and update on what key things that each team are working on, and what’s on the roadmap. And so it’s a moment for all of us to keep connected to come together all as a team again. And yeah, it’s pretty common within tech space to do the sort of stand ups. It’s almost like a company wide standoff every Monday. But where we celebrate successes, talk about challenges. And that’s been a great little cultural thing for us to keep us all aligned, get us all together. And it’s great having everybody in the office and really clear about what’s going on as a business. So look at some of the cool things that many tech companies do. Because I suspect that many people are not involved in tech space. But there are things that HR modern tech companies do culturally and business-wise that you can leverage into other businesses. And I think it’s a great way to shape your mindset, particularly around efficiencies and how you’re going to grow and perfect to
Debra Chantry-Taylor 36:44
Lucky. One, number two, number three. Yeah.
Dean Anderson 36:48
One of the big things for us. Again, the other one of the biggest, another recent one for us as being you know, we’re a small team, and we have the challenges that many small businesses have. So how do we scale? How do we build efficiency, and and that also comes back to culture and creating an environment where you encourage staff to present proactively ways of doing things smarter and more efficiently. And so, you know, again, as a technology business, we just held out second hackathon. And that was a chance where we just had, there’s no structure to it, other than you get yourself a team, you look at the problems that you may have, that your customers may have that internally, we have, and come up with solution. It’s a 24 hour window, like a startup weekend, within your own businesses. Yeah, and half a dozen teams got formed this time around. And they each had very clear understanding of a problem they wanted to solve, either. There was some internal processes, they thought were inefficient between teams, or something was inefficient for a customer experience. And they had 24 hours to solve that problem, come up with a concept represent it and then the presenter, there’s a team. Yeah. And that’s a great way exactly that kind of startup mentality and keeping that startup mentality alive of really always thinking about the problems, thinking about the customers, and ensuring that everybody feels like they’ve got a voice to proactively speak up to others above, hey, we could do something smarter. And if you can do that, within your business, you are going to be far more successful because you’re going to be constantly solving and improving the outcomes for your customers. And you’ll be able to adapt and leverage new technology really well.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 38:27
And it’s not just technology that I was just thinking about, like it could just be a hackathon is just about any issues, challenges, problems that you’re experiencing, and that I’m assuming they’re multifunctional teams that get together. And yeah, I’ve worked together to try and
Dean Anderson 38:38
Come up with different teams structure that you need. And you put some rules around that. And one of them actually was really simple. One of them actually was onboarding. So we’re growing. And as we’ve grown, obviously, we we’ve hired people, and we will continue to hire people. But our onboarding experience as you grow our business, the process for onboarding, somebody wasn’t necessarily top of mind. Yeah. And so we were giving inconsistent experiences for somebody joining Colonel. Right. And that’s day one that you really want to give them that great impression about what the joining and what are they need to know and how you get filled in. And so we literally established the new process. Over that 24 hours and rolled that out, we spoke to some of the new starters and the team of what did you experience? What did you know? What didn’t work? Yeah. I said this whole new way. So now we’ve got a bit more structure around a part of the business outlook. It’s a bit ad hoc. So it’s not top of mind of like onboarding somebody, you’re not doing it every week. So you don’t always think about those things. But there was a great chance to think about those little things that will collectively help shape our culture and the success of the business so perfect.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 39:44
Wasn’t, I guess, finally, I mean, tell us a little about kernel itself and what how do people get involved? What what’s the ideal customer for girl
Dean Anderson 39:53
So a lot of people Yes, our customer base is really, really interesting. So we work. Our funds have been used by And from iwi and charity trusts, but people that are using our platform range from, you know, the most of our customers are 30s and 40s. Old. Yep. But we’ve got high net worth individuals with family offices using us, which is astounding. But a lot of the people we find are coming to us where they’ve got a bit of spare money, or they’ve got some disposable income. And they come to our platform, open accounts, and then they set up a couple of investment goals site, right, I want to put some money aside for this for their retirement, this is gonna be for the kids. And then they set up most of them are automatic investment plan, but they just want to set aside some money out of your paycheck really regularly. And it’s giving them the confidence to know that they’ve got money being put aside, that’s going to be working for them for tomorrow. Yep, same for the KiwiSaver, you can customize your KiwiSaver have it aligned to your values. And effectively, we are a kiwi company, offering some of the lowest fees in the market with a really good digital experience. So we’re not a bank. And a lot of people are coming to us from the bank where they realize actually, there’s a better way and I can get a better outcome from being involved with a company like Colonel. Yeah.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 41:06
And you feel like you’ve got more control yourself and what you’re doing, just in terms of investment, I mean, it is always a long term thing, right? You can’t expect to get immediate returns from investments. So you’re lucky, but it depends on what you’re looking for, is how that investment strategy changes, right,
Dean Anderson 41:21
We do have a spectrum. So we do have a savings account. And we’ve got a cash fund. So people are using the cash fund for those shorter term goals, emergency fund or something saving up for a house deposit. Or they just want an income source. And so you’ve got the traditional cash and balance and high growth. And then we’ve got other options that people can pick and choose from that a long term focus. And, you know, for most people, and most of our customers are with us now, they’re probably with us for a long time, you know, and we’ll be that partner with them on that journey. Because they want to really invest, they’ve got time and 10 plus years before they’ll be in retirement. And so this is a space for them to build up some money. And some people, the biggest, interesting one in that category is people deciding do I want to pay down the mortgage? Or do I put some money aside, we do find people as much as they want to pay down the mortgage, they like to have some build up some assets. That’s not just their house. Yeah, you know, just having something you know, is a bit more accessible, that you are options with. And KiwiSaver is the other big one. We can’t underestimate KiwiSaver is just about to tip over $100 billion in New Zealand. So there’s $100 billion that we collectively now have that is sitting up for our retirement. And people underestimate, it will be the second biggest asset for most Kiwis out there in their lifetime. And taking that five minutes to go and understand, okay, who’s your KiwiSaver were and I on the right type of fund. Those two little changes can have literally hundreds of 1000s of dollars impact in your apartment. And there’s some great sites out there that support that like sorted and others. And next month actually is money month, so annual sort of New Zealand a month where it’s about promoting financial literacy and education. So it’s a great time to go and check what you’re doing. And have you got things set up for yourselves because it’s something we don’t think about. The other one on that, as I guess, given the focus on the business front, many people who start their own businesses may not be contributing to KiwiSaver. Right? Yep. And it’s a great reminder, actually, still at least put in your $1,000 every year because you’ll get that free $520 For the government just got paid a couple of weeks ago for everybody. So even if you’re self employed, if you think about that, that free return on that investment of putting 1000 all the way over a few decades, that will still be meaningful amount of money. So absolutely,
Debra Chantry-Taylor 43:38
Yeah, it’s really, really valid point. Cool. I look thank you so much. I really enjoyed talking to you. If you want to get in contact with you. What’s the best way to get in contact with you
Dean Anderson 43:47
Kernel.co dot insert. And you can find me on LinkedIn as well. I’m always one heavy somebody reached out to Christine Anderson on LinkedIn. You’ll find me there and do the kernel page and message me and reach out for a coffee or chat. So that’s it.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 43:59
Wonderful. Thank you so much for your time.
Professional EOS Implementer | Entrepreneurial Leadership & Business Coach | Business Owner
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