With financial planning being a ‘problem’ for most people, there have been a myriad of solutions that have popped up to solve this issue. This includes trying to digitise the industry to bring efficiency and help improve the experience for consumers as well.

However, not all these solutions are equal and at some point it becomes a crowded market. To find out more, we had a chance to speak to Dato Wayne Chen, Founder and CEO of GoalsMapper about his journey as a financial consultant turned entrepreneur. This isn’t Wayne’s first entrepreneurial endeavour, but in the last couple of years, GoalsMapper has grown to over 2,000 subscribers and expanded across Southeast Asia to Malaysia and Thailand.

We wanted to find out more about the company, but also the challenges with this relatively underserved industry. Wayne was kind enough to spare some of his time to share more about his brand and how they plan to change the industry.

As a former Financial Consultant yourself, what is the main pain point GoalsMapper is trying to solve? 

Financial Consultants (FC) do not generally hold a good reputation with the public, the industry is often thought of with aggressive lead generation methods and product-selling.

The GoalsMapper platform. Image courtesy of GoalsMapper.

GoalsMapper was founded to help FCs provide their clients with a clearer understanding of their financial journey as well as help make their financial planning process as smooth-sailing as possible. 

By digitizing the financial consultancy industry, GoalsMapper has made it easier for Financial Consultants to provide easy-to-understand solutions to help the end-consumer, which is the client and to assist them with making better financial decisions. As someone who has previously needed the services of a trustable FC and been a former FC wanting to provide these services, I was able to come up with a solution to build a better experience for both sides. We want to educate and change the public’s perception of the industry while enhancing the value creation for financial consultants as we believe that financial literacy is a necessity and the low level of trust is what’s standing between the consumer and financial freedom.

I also believe that if everyone were empowered with proper financial planning tools and knowledge, people could live better lives – lives free from ‘what-ifs’. 

The finance industry has been around for a long time and is very traditional. I thought it would be worth taking some time to fine-tune it by digitising processes so FCs can better demonstrate to clients exactly what they need, why they need, and how they can achieve their financial goals and to make complex financial decisions for them.

What are some of the challenges you faced in trying to scale this solution across Southeast Asia?

As with most globalisation efforts, there will undoubtedly be issues in adapting to the culture and societal context of other countries. We started in Singapore, which is a bustling financial hub, so there are lower barriers when it comes to educating people on the need to have a financial portfolio in the first place. 

Expanding to countries like Malaysia and Thailand brought about some challenges in addressing not only language and cultural diversity – we also had to strategise on how to navigate through low financial behaviour and activity. 

I would say the first hurdle begins with reaching out to FCs, they may be sceptical about the benefits of FinTech and therefore there is a slower adoption of technology. Our clients, who are financial advisors, also tend to face challenges when trying to educate and present financial concepts to the end-consumer. No matter how useful a certain technology is, if the users themselves do not believe in it, this will merely be a success in theory. However, the results of financial literacy will show, albeit in a longer period of time, and that is what GoalsMapper is about – for individuals to lead better lives and in comfort.

Given the public perception of the industry, how do you think your service can improve on this (if at all)?

With GoalsMapper, FCs can provide better clarity and greater transparency to provide visibility, knowledge and information to their clients. Trust is a touchy subject, which is why we take into account every step of the journey and make sure that each action taken is with honesty and transparency. 

Everything is laid out clearly for the client on the platform. It’s completely personalised, too. For instance, if someone wants to know what the opportunity cost of going on yearly extravagant vacations are, that could be demonstrated by GoalsMapper’s scenario-based planning feature. FCs to be able to substantiate their recommendations to clients as they can physically see the charts in real-time on the GoalsMapper platform. This would not only gain a client’s trust but would also reflect upon the consultant’s professionalism. 

GoalsMapper also digitises the information-gathering stage which allows our FCs to showcase their productivity and performance through their consultations. With the effective use of technology to gather essential information from clients prior to the actual meet-up, GoalsMapper users (i.e. Financial consultants) are able to tailor a personalised financial advisory session for prospects respectively. This takes away a significant bulk of time from the procedure, changing the public perception that setting up a financial planning session is tedious and time-consuming.

How did COVID change the industry for the financial advisor industry? Do you see the changes as being permanent?

The GoalsMapper summary report. Image courtesy of GoalsMapper.

GoalsMapper was not created as a temporary solution but will be the go-to financial software platform for many Financial Consultants to facilitate their client’s financial planning journey, even long after the pandemic. 

During the initial stage of COVID, we realised that our FCs can no longer meet clients physically. Thus, a lot of financial consultants turned to digital tools to search for prospects and to better facilitate their meetings with clients so they would be able to present, interact and engage with their clients effectively through a non-face-to-face (NFTF) session.

These digital tools have proven to be helpful as technology has helped expedite a lot of processes in what was once a conventional sector. As society becomes more tech-savvy, the demand for efficient, real-time results will continue to grow. There is also a timeless need for transparency in business, and customization of products in centuries to come. 

What’s next for GoalsMapper?

As we continually strive for greatness, our goal is to remain true to our core values – Integrity, Innovation, Efficacy and Diversity & Inclusion. Being true to those values would be where we will continue to innovate and develop technologies to create more value to better the lives of individuals, especially in their financial journey. 

This year, we are planning an exciting launch of a new product line with innovative features. Apart from that, we are in the midst of applying for the ISO 27001 certification and Data Protection Trustmark (DPTM Certification) to better demonstrate accountable data protection practices. In the near future, we would also like to work with associations and educational institutions to form programmes dedicated to educating the public or students on financial literacy. Moving forward, we will continue to reach out to as many people as possible, to empower individuals’ lives across Southeast Asia.