Originally born in Australia, Samantha Seaton (pictured) has been in the UK for more than 25 years. Now a CEO of a fintech company, she speaks to Sophie King about making money simple for your average Joe...
Seaton has always worked in tech since studying Information Technology at Curtin University in Perth. Her degree, she says, led her into the technology world at a time where everyone was "trying to come off spreadsheets" and move onto the internet. That is how her career started at financial services firm Towers Perrin [now Towers Watson] started: she helped to build online models that effectively replaced spreadsheets.
From here, Seaton started to understand the challenges a consumer can face when it comes to understanding the financial services world. "It's not because we're stupid, not because we don't like money or because we aren't interested," she explains, "but because it is just so complicated when you scratch underneath the service. Ever since then, I was always interested in the ultimate end consumer, and how they end up making [financial] decisions."
Getting rid of the gibberish
Moneyhub first launched in 2014 but the app has been used as an open banking tool since January 2018. Open banking allows third party members access to financial information and then build services with the aim to benefit the consumer. Moneyhub, Seaton explains, has around 450 sign-ups a month and 70% connect other money-related accounts immediately to the app, an increase from just 20% when it first released.
Seaton has been the CEO of the open banking tool for more than three years and it was a position that placed her in front of the consumer, which is where she wants to be. "Now I am in a position where I can genuinely make a difference in getting rid of the gibberish, which I just think we don't need."
Moneyhub thrives off being agnostic, making sure it does not focus on engaging one type of person. It aims to help people from "the cradle to the grave", Seaton says, such as students who need help with budgeting to elderly people who want help with their pension: "We work with other enterprises that want to help their community and their customers."
An example of how the platform helps people, she says, is the Moneyhub algorithms. They can look at the money the customer is spending and then compare that to discounts their employer offers them and work out where they can save. People can get alerts informing them of whether they are "behind or ahead" with their finances. "It tries to help people like you and me, who are running around like headless chickens, be a bit more aware of things that I call free cash."
Elsewhere, the CEO says Moneyhub has recently applied for a grant for a ‘My Share and Care' app. "I'm really conscious that there's a lot of people, like my mum, who has a smartphone and she can Whatsapp and text and speak on it, but that is it."
She adds there is no way her mum would use her phone to manage her money. Instead, she asks Seaton to help her. "So, I thought, well actually she's not going to be the only person that feels at a loss as to what to do." The idea is that Seaton would be able to have a read-only view of her mum's phone so she can tell her what to look out for and guide her.
"I can be her substitute ‘tech friend' to help her with her money, so she doesn't miss out, but she doesn't have to do it." The CEO says this is something they hope to introduce soon in a bid to improve inclusivity for those that might struggle with tech but still want some form of control with their finances.
MAPS steering group
Seaton has recently been appointed as a member of the Money & Pensions Service (MAPS) pension dashboard steering group. Here, Seaton will work alongside other industry professionals to lead the delivery of the initial phase of the pension dashboard programme.
She says the first meeting exceeded her expectations and the group has already come up with ideas to help support the sector and the wider public. She is positive the group will make a difference to the pension dashboard.
As with Moneyhub, one of Seaton's main aims with the group is to make sure everyone can see all of their pensions with no gibberish. "When we log on to that government dashboard, we can see all of our pensions, and we can see all of the things that matter so that we can make important decisions about our money. Everything I do, and the team does, is all about making people better off."
Of course, while Seaton stresses people should plan for their future, she does not want people to feel they should not spend their money. In this respect, she has a big problem, for example, with people using how much someone would spend on coffee to say, 'you would be this much better off if you didn't buy that every day'.
However, what Moneyhub has the capabality to do is ‘tax' people when they do treat themselves, which Seaton claims is a better way of making people better off while also "living for now".
Ultimately, Seaton says it is important to utilise technology to improve inclusivity in financial services as it will make it cheaper for the end consumer. Technology enables the cost to come down and make financial advice and services available 'average Joe's'.
"Technology makes what, to be fair, has been quite an exclusive club, available to the mass market but at a cost that everyone can afford."
And other investors
And other investors
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