Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff, in association with Callaghan Innovation, in which host Simon Pound speaks with innovators focused on the future of New Zealand. This week he talks to Natalie Ferguson and Kristen Lunman from Hatch, a new platform that allows New Zealanders to invest in US shares.
Until very recently, if you wanted to buy shares in American companies like Apple, Facebook, Google or Tesla it is quite amazing how hard it could be.
You needed either to be buying an awful lot, so to make sense of the massive fees of using a local bank share-trading service as a broker, or you needed to navigate a confusing and bewildering process to get access to an international broking platform, and then all the tax and hassle around that. Not recommended.
But now an innovative new platform has started up to solve the problem, offering access to US shares and exchange traded funds with brokerage fees at an order of magnitude under the existing big bank status quo. Which may make it surprising that this startup has come from the same holding company as …a big bank!
It’s called Hatch, it’s from Kiwi Wealth, the sister company to Kiwibank, and is a product of their focus on innovation. Because the big banking sector is ripe for disruption, and big change is coming with open banking already changing the fee and service landscape around the world, it’s very cool to see that coming from inside a bank. The general manager of Hatch, Kristen Lunman, and the head of experience Natalie Ferguson have made it their business to do just that. Working first with the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator, and then in the Kiwi Wealth Innovation Lab, resulted in this game changer. A disclaimer is that I am a user, but only out of finding the service and then asking them to come on Business is Boring once I’d seen how interesting its background was.
To talk the service, opening up investment opportunities, and innovating in a bank environment, Natalie Ferguson and Kristen Lunman join us now
Simon: Both of you have backgrounds in startups. What have you managed to take from that startup life and bring into a corporate structure?
Natalie: Well we certainly don’t operate as a corporate and what’s so cool is we have started to influence the wider corporate in ways we act. I think because we have been able to exhibit how a traditional startup would act and all the fantastic cultural elements that come along it that – the passion and the mission – we’ve actually had a real level of influence over the wider [Kiwibank] business and probably actually with a wider banking group. I think people are excited to see a group of people that have a purpose, who wake up every day excited about what they’re doing and have a real strong sense of community. We’re people who really enjoy hanging out with each other and have a really strong dedication to being exceptional and bold and all of these values that you don’t traditionally talk about in a traditional financial services company. [And now] they’re thinking wow, we want some of what they’ve got.
With respect to what I have brought to Hatch, the coolest thing about working in a startup space is to be able to be really bold and do something very hard in a a very noisy world where you’re just trying to be heard and to make a difference. I think joining with a small group of people who care so much about covering that path and about making a difference is probably something that I will seek for the rest of my life.
Environmental Innovation is the focus for this year’s C-Prize challenge – Callaghan Innovation is asking innovators to develop tech solutions with the power to change environmental outcomes. Business advice, mentoring and R&D expertise will support finalists to turn their concepts into reality. Follow the C-Prize journey.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.