By Oliver Smith on Monday 4 April 2022
Co-founder Ben Stanway speaks exclusively to AltFi about branching out into Bitcoin, figuring out financial planning, and whether an IPO is in Moneybox's future.
Digital wealth manager Moneybox has raised £35m from asset management giant Fidelity in a Series D funding round that will enable it to scale up its operations and launch crypto investments.
As well as Fidelity International Strategic Ventures—which has backed Moneybox since its Series B in 2018—the new round was also joined by new backer Polar Capital along with several existing investors.
Moneybox co-founder and co-CEO Ben Stanway told AltFi that the funding would help the fintech deliver on the “societal need for the mass market to have wealth planning, savings and services made available to them”.
The funding comes just ahead of Moneybox, hitting £3bn in assets under administration across its 800,000 customers, a milestone which Stanway says should be reached in the “next couple of weeks”.
With around 300 employees, the funding will be used to continue building Moneybox’s brand, growing its customer base, launching its first financial planning services, adding a broader range of ETFs, and introducing crypto-investing, Stanway told AltFi.
“We're going to be expanding [into crypto] through the lens of diversification, not through the lens of speculation,” the co-CEO explained, giving the example of holding “a couple of per cent” in Bitcoin as part of a larger portfolio.
“So very much like long term financial wellness, and diversification oriented. If customers want to buy today and sell tomorrow, there's a lot of platforms out there who will facilitate that.”
“We will not be a good place for people to speculate on cryptocurrencies.”
While Stanway was clear that Moneybox’s crypto plans are still in the early stages of development, he said he “wouldn't be surprised if on day one… it was just Bitcoin, or maybe Bitcoin and perhaps one or two other [tokens].”
Crypto further expand Moneybox’s offering, which today includes ISAs, LISAs, SIPPs, GIAs, JISAs, a cash platform, pension consolidation service, and mortgage advice service, to name just a few.
Going forward, Stanway said that financial planning would be a key tool in tying all of Moneybox’s various services together more cohesively.
“The next seven years are going to be about knitting them all together in a beautiful sort of integrated holistic planning service. As a customer, you're not really looking or thinking about the products, you're saying, I want this kind of retirement, I want to buy this kind of home or I want to have this much money set aside for a rainy day,” said Stanway.
“Starting this year, and I should think for several years to come, we’re going to be putting our minds to how to provide what I’d loosely define as ‘planning services’ to the 15 to 20 million people in the UK who both have money and would benefit from planning.”
He added that these services would come at a “transformationally lower cost” than traditional financial planning from the likes of St. James's Place.
Finally, on the recent acquisition of Nutmeg by JP Morgan Chase and the steady drumbeat of consolidation in the wealth sector, Stanway said he isn’t surprised that M&A activity is increasing.
“I think there'll be more consolidation in this space. I think the incumbents are have been relatively flat-footed and they tend to be very profitable companies with big cash balances, and a requirement to catch up on their tech.”
As for his company’s future, with fresh funding in the bank Stanway said his investors have a “very long term” view on Moneybox.
“We are very happy to be independent, and potentially for a very long time. We can see the possible value over the long term here, and I think that would lend itself more naturally to a kind of IPO route than a sale of company route.”
For now, Moneybox’s Series D still has a little way to go, Stanway said a crowdfunding round is due to launch in the coming weeks, following up on the fintech’s successful 2020 crowdfund which saw £7m raised across just two days.