Meet MoneyCalc, the first broker-tech platform that wants to digitise India’s three million independent brokers

The Dell Startup Challenge is an exciting platform for emerging entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to the market, get greater exposure, and win prizes. The third season of the challenge saw participation from over 500 startups, with MoneyCalc selected as one of the four finalists.
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Middle India, or our so called Tier II and Tier III cities — from Jammu to Ahmedabad and everything between them — are fast emerging as alternatives to the saturated markets of India’s traditional metros. Yet, another important “middle” category ofIndia — the middle-income bracket — is projected to rise to 475 million in 2030, according to a report by Ernst & Young. As rising technological adoption fuels the growing aspirations of middle India, innovations in the financial services landscape are powering both digital and financial inclusion through their innovative solutions, with great potential to scale.

MoneyCalc is one such solution in the digital wealth management space. It’s a first-of-its-kind broker-tech platform that aims to digitise India’s independent brokers. MoneyCalc makes the average neighborhood financial advisor more efficient by providing an integrated tech stack that covers Digital KYC, online investing, planning, CRM, educational content etc. The platform helps independent brokers to customise their businesses and provide their customers with instant financial health checks, paperless full KYC, instant investing through mutual funds, portfolio insights and research client logins, goal tracking and more.

MoneyCalc is a product of True North Labs, a recognised startup under startup India and Maharashtra Fintech Hub. Founded by Dhruv Arora and Apurva Parekh, True North Labs leverages process innovation, advanced technologies and data science to create intelligent applications for the fintech ecosystem.

The paperless and branch-less platform

With over 850 partners across 150 cities clocking 500,000 client transactions and mutual funds AuM worth Rs 200 crore, MoneyCalc takes pride in being a paperless and branch-less solution. They also claim to be the only tech stack that can allow any advisor sitting anywhere to have a branded robo-advisor platform for clients in a day's time.

“To empower financial inclusion India needs a minimum of 10 lakh modern advisors who can create better financial outcomes for the largely unserved Middle India. Moneycalc was created to efficiently combine human advice with technology to help every household. Our mission is to create a supply pool of these advisors, energise them with advanced technology and connect them with consumers to deliver sophisticated wealth management experience. We have always believed in the power of micro-entrepreneurs, and by working closely with them while building the product, we’ve removed a lot of operational duplication and helped them save cost and time,” said Dhruv.

The founding team

With Dhruv Arora and Apurva Parekh at the helm, MoneyCalc comes with an experienced founding team with deep domain and academic expertise from institutions that include DCE, IIMB, CNRS (Japan). The founders also have the combined experience of managing Rs 10,000 crore of financial assets and also digitising five million clients through MyUniverse, India’s first robo-advisor developed by Aditya Birla Capital.

Dhruv and Apurva met at Aditya Birla Capital and worked together for almost five years in leadership roles at the firm.

“Both of us were early believers of technology in financial services and were convinced about its potential to transform the delivery of financial services. With the focus on Middle India, we set out to create an integrated platform that could transform the way advisors help their clients,” said Apurva.

“Both of us are creative problem solvers and have this ability to connect the dots. However, our approaches are different. While I am all about the big picture, Apurva is the devil for details,” added Dhruv.

The role of tech in their product and growth journey

MoneyCalc is also in touch with academic institutions to get the latest perspectives in various domains. Their AI advisor is a robotic research scholar based in France. “Tech goes beyond coding, for us. We believe in including tech in all functions of our business and tech forms the biggest component of our cost structure,” said Dhruv on how tech underscores every aspect of their business.

“We have been at the forefront of combining new age tech for the wealth management domain. We were the first to provide a video KYC solution to advisors. We created the first two-minute financial health check using Machine Learning. We are managing with a tenth of our required operational manpower by using robotic process automation (RPA) across our internal operations.” he added.

The duo has been following a build-as-you-sell approach to product development and growth. “We have been in touch with our early clients and built with clear focus on customer needs. It's more iterative and a lean approach to find the right product revenue fit. It's slower than a burn-based approach, but gives us an edge in terms of product depth. We are now the most complete tech stack for wealth management ,” said Dhruv.

When technology is the game changer

MoneyCalc connects the various activities of a financial advisor into one single dashboard with the help of technology. We offer a vertical SaaS solution for advisors with very low entry prices that covers CRM, marketing, transactions, advisory, back office, market research and skill development.

“Leveraging an interconnected tech-enabled system like ours enables the advisor to build a modern practice digitally. This is a complex objective and can be solved only with technology. We have built RPAs, utilized ML for advisory, and created self adjusting utilities. Our focus has always been to use technology to bring diverse applications to work together and solve problems for advisors,” said Dhruv.

Short and long-term goals

One of their biggest challenges was educating small advisors in Tier II and III cities through online channels. However, their persistence has paid off and their advisors are now realising the value of their remote working solutions.

“We are touching 850 advisors and 7000 active investors on our platform. We also filed for a patent in India for our robo-planning process. We are also in the process of releasing the beta version of our product for real estate agents, and plan to reach 5000 advisors and 1.25 lakh investors by September 2021. Our long term vision is to touch 25 million active investors on our platform being serviced by 20000 advisors across investing, property and insurance,” said Dhruv.

Reward and recognition: The Dell Startup Challenge and beyond

MoneyCalc was recently selected as a finalist from over 500 entries in the Dell Startup Challenge Season 4, an India-wide platform for aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to market, get greater exposure, and win prizes. Talking about the unique distinction

“We believe in the vision of digitising small businesses with tech, and hence our interest in the Dell Startup Challenge. It feels great to be adjudged as a finalist, and is a great validation of our vision and product. We congratulate the winner and other finalists and wish them luck in building their vision,” said Apurva.

“As more advisors adopt the solution and become digitised we see a greater role for technology in the play. That is where Dell can come in. It has the potential to help us scale across our devices, cloud, and other tech needs,” he added.

Beyond recognition from the industry, the MoneyCalc founders are truly heartened when they see their product making a difference across India.

“When we see video KYC happening from cities like Dhuri, Vyara and Ahmednagar, we know that our tech is truly helping deliver financial inclusion. We are also most excited when we get testimonials from our advisors telling us that we helped them change their life. Now, what can be more rewarding than that?” said Dhruv, signing off.

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