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CEO Interview: Figlo’s Albert van den Broek

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This month, we interviewed the CEO of Figlo, Albert van den Broek, to gain insight into Figlo’s global wealth management strategy.

Van den Broek has served as CEO for over 5 years, during which time Figlo has demoed its platform at FinovateEurope 2011 (demo), FinovateSpring 2011 (demo), and FinovateEurope 2012 (demo).

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Finovate: We last had Figlo onstage at Finovate this February at our 2012 London conference where you demoed your new consumer portal. What has been the overall response to your new platform in the last several months?

van den Broek: We’re getting a lot of positive feedback regarding our latest development of the Figlo Platform. Actually, the Facebook integration of PFM and financial planning we did show at FinovateEurope is just one of the possibilities our platform does offer, and showed that the platform enables banks to interact with their (potential) clients where they spend most of their time, for instance on Facebook. The flexibility of the Figlo Platform, together with the ability to add financial planning and product advice to PFM is unique.. It’s ‘beyond PFM’ what we offer; exactly what the financial industry currently needs.

Finovate: Over the next few years, how do you see the wealth management technology evolving?

van den Broek: We experience an increasing demand for solutions that are simple, transparent and focus on the client’s actual needs. At the same time, these solutions need to be compliant and able to be used for self-service concept as well as for the professional advisory market, and be device agnostic. Current mainstream wealth management solutions will have a challenge to deal with this changing environment as most solutions focus on the communication of current and future asset allocation only. Our main mission is to offer solutions that create a holistic financial insight for everyone. They need to cover all slices of the total pie. We invested years to build a platform that covers all mentioned aspects, seamlessly integrated.

Finovate: Figlo has a geographically diverse global customer list. What sort of differences are you seeing in financial technology innovation in different regions?

van den Broek: Although our clients are diverse, and we need to deal with a lot of cultural aspects, the need for a better understanding of the personal financial situation is universal. The world is growing smaller and smaller in this respect. Emerging economies like the BRIC countries do have the benefit of starting from scratch with the most modern solutions, where the U.S. and E.U., for instance, do suffer from a lot of legacy in terms of accessing the information that is needed to create a complete financial picture for customers. The law of the handicap of a head start does apply here. It’s amazing to see the innovative solutions, for instance, banks and insurers in Russia, Brazil and India already do offer to their clients.

Finovate: Security and privacy are major issues online these days, especially around financial information. How are you addressing these issues?

van den Broek: Figlo does offer cloud solutions, running on the secured and Microsoft Azure Platform. It offers the most professional and secured environment currently available. Data is always stored in a secure environment, never on a device, so we even think that this is more secure than any other financial advisory solution available. However, we also offer the platform on premise to be able to offer tailored solutions.

Finovate: What has been the biggest challenge you have faced since becoming CEO of Figlo? How did you overcome it?

van den Broek: Delivering state-of-the-art applications is key for Figlo, however, you have to realize that the market is not always ready for the latest and greatest solutions. That basically means that timing is the hardest part. Sometimes I did feel that we were too far ahead, giving us sometimes a hard time to convince the industry that financial advisory will fundamentally change. Luckily, we’re now gaining momentum, and our vision to simplify financial advisory applications, integrate the whole financial picture and offer it to the global market proved to be right. Tenacity, stay true to your vision, together with a dedicated team it will finally bring you where you want to be and you will achieve your dreams.

Finovate: What advice would you give a young entrepreneur in the fintech industry?

van den Broek: A lot of new, young fintech entrants have the tendency to focus too much on features, neat UI’s, and the product. They forget to focus on the business case for the financial industry. What’s in it for the client? How does it drive more sales or lower costs for them? Try to focus on the ROI rather than too much on the ‘cool’ factor of your solution.

Finovate: Can you give us a sneak peek of what’s next for Figlo?

van den Broek: Figlo is currently working on a lot of different projects across the globe. Recently, we delivered a personal financial planning platform for a bank in Russia, a direct-2-consumer for the Indian market and a tablet sales agent solution for an insurer in Turkey. In the next months a lot of new exciting projects will be announced, so follow us on Twitter (@figlo) to get the latest news 😉

To learn more about Figlo, watch its FinovateEurope 2012 demo. Stay tuned for another CEO interview next month.