After a decade in the PR industry, this woman entrepreneur launched a fintech advisory platform for women
In a career spanning close to a decade in the public relations (PR) space, Shagun Bansali Mehta always found one thing challenging — managing her money. She says the subject was always a thorn on her side, leaving her dependent on her husband or her father for financial decisions.
“Everyone says you need to save and invest money. But women generally do not end up making their own decisions when it comes to investment. I would speak to many of my colleagues and friends, and everyone had the same problem. The biggest recurring theme we see is that we (especially women) are not talking about money and financial wellness enough, or we do not involve ourselves as much as we should when it comes to our finances,” explains Shagun.
Starting as a blog
Shagun, based out of Mumbai, took the first steps towards this by starting Miss Piggy Banks - a curated Instagram handle and blog. The page, started in June 2020, is dedicated to educating and making finance simple for women.
From April 2021, it became a user-centric finance platform focussed on simplifying financial advice and connecting users with financial advisors/planners who are trustworthy and curated.
“We wanted to help people through this tedious and sometimes frustrating process of finding trustworthy financial experts, who are within budget and will guide through every step of your investment process,” says Shagun.
Once the idea was in place, Shagun roped in her husband Rishi Mehta, who is a financial analyst.
Now a team of four, Shagun is in the process of working with web developers to transform Miss Piggy Banks into a 360-deg integrated platform where users can book appointments, get guidance, get matched to the right advisors all on a single portal itself.
Testing the market
“Over the last few months, we have been talking to a range of experts in the finance space, as well as people looking for investment assistance to understand the complexities in this space better,” says Shagun.
A survey she conducted among close to 500 individuals within the age bracket of 25-40 revealed that most of the respondents (especially women) find it difficult to access reliable, trustworthy information about financial advisors/consultants.
Through the Miss Piggy Banks portal, one can search for professionals and choose them basis their profiles, educational background, expertise, fees charged, investment style, etc. The details are all mentioned against their profiles on the website. Users can click on the contact to get in touch.
Building the base
When a user reaches out, the advisor is notified via email. The advisor then has the option to respond and set up a mutually convenient date and time for discussions ahead.
“While building the website took at least a month, the outreach to advisors took us a little longer since this was a new concept. The team has been live with the website for a month now, and have over 16 experts, including SEBI’s first registered woman advisor,” Shagun proudly shares.
She adds they will continue to onboard new professionals. By the end of June, they hope to have 10-15 more advisors to this repository.
"In terms of revenue, since we were testing this model out, initially we did not charge a listing fee to these advisors,” says Shagun.
They now charge advisors a listing fee of Rs 2,500 for three months, after which advisors can renew their contracts if they like.
“We also conduct seminars for which the fees are mutually decided along with the advisor and as per the nature of the workshop. As the reach and the traction increases, we will increase the listing fee as well.
In a month on average, we reach almost 1,50,000 unique accounts. We have had more than 60 people reach out to our advisors in the first month itself,” says Shagun.
Market and future
There is growing awareness amongst women to focus on their finances. A Central Depository Services (India) Limited survey has said that of the total individual Demat accounts, 76 percent belonged to male investors.
But with the emergence of the crypto market, over 15 to 20 percent of the investments are being done by women, and this figure is on the rise.
Speaking of their future, Shagun says, “We aim to have a 360-degree integrated website where appointments, sessions etc., are booked and conducted on our portal. We also want to conduct webinars on our portal, besides beginner courses on investing."
Edited by Anju Narayanan