Findependent wants to make investing accessible to everyone in Switzerland via an investment app. We speak to the CEO Matthias Bryner. In an exclusive interview, he explains how findependent came about and provides valuable background information. He talks about his plans and gives you a very special findependent savings code.
Matthias Bryner is CEO of findependent AG
and had the idea for findependent . Matthias previously worked in product development at neon and experienced first-hand what it takes for a successful fintech start-up. Matthias has a Masters in Banking & Finance from the University of St. Gallen.
Matthias, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
With pleasure. I live in Aarau and in my free time I like to be outdoors in nature with hiking boots, mountain bikes, racing bikes, cross-country skis or an orienteering map and compass. Since I am interested in investing and fintech, I can now combine both at findependent.
What is findependent and what vision do you want to achieve?
findependent is a simple and handy investment app to get more out of your savings. Thanks to our easy-to-understand investment solutions and the practical app, investing is neither complicated nor time-consuming.
We want to make investing as accessible as possible for everyone. So that everyone can benefit from the associated financial advantages. Because we believe that everyone should get a fair share of the success of large companies and economic growth. After all, it is we as consumers and employees who make this possible.
Why did you start findependent? How did that happen?
During my time at neon, I saw for myself what a modern app-based financial product looks like. Back then, VIAC also relied on this mobile-first approach with its Pillar 3a app. In my opinion, a similar product in pillar 3b was still missing.
The name findependent is made up of the words “financially independent”. We are convinced that clever investments can lead to significantly greater financial independence than just saving in a savings account. However, the word findependent is a bit prone to spelling mistakes, as we find out again and again.
There are now quite a few robo advisors in Switzerland. What makes the findependent investment app better?
We focus on making investing as easy and understandable as possible. We have been using our own app for this since the beginning. We deliberately don’t describe ourselves as a robo-advisor, but as an investment app. In particular, we want to make the start of investing as uncomplicated and attractive as possible. That’s why you can easily open your account with findependent online in 15 minutes without a video call and create it from as little as 500 francs. So that customers can see us for themselves in peace, we also completely waive the administration and custody fees for the first CHF 2,000. For readers of Smolio we offer something more, more on that later.
How much does it cost to invest money with findependent? How do you compare to the competition?
Management and custody fees of 0.44% per year apply to the part of the investment amount that exceeds CHF 2,000, which are billed quarterly. There are also third-party costs associated with ETF transactions (stamp taxes, stock exchange duties and exchange rate surcharges) and the product costs of the ETFs themselves. You can find a transparent overview of this on our website.
Thomas: According to the sample calculation there, the annual all-in fees for setting up and managing a balanced portfolio of CHF 10,000 with 16 shifts are 0.49% per year.
Yes, exactly. According to a study by Moneyland, we are around 60% cheaper than comparable offers from traditional banks. In practice, the difference is even greater as the study did not take into account product costs and foreign exchange surcharges. So, compared to other robo-advisors, we are probably a bit below average with our fees.
In which ETFs does the findependent investment app invest my money?
Our investment solutions consist of ETFs . We have selected the 9 best ETFs from over 1,500 and put together our investment solutions from them. You can currently choose from four predefined solutions:
- Prudent (40% shares)
- Balanced (60% shares)
- Brave (80% shares)
- Risk-taking (98% equities)
When you open your account, we will suggest the right solution based on a few questions. You are then free to choose our suggestion or your own solution.
When selecting ETFs, we pay particular attention to costs and sustainability. We always select the ETFs in the interests of the clients. That’s why we don’t accept any commissions from the providers. For all investments outside of Switzerland, we also rely on sustainable ETFs. These only include companies that meet mandatory environmental, social, and governance criteria. Hence the English abbreviation ESG. An ESG Screened Index therefore excludes companies from controversial sectors. That’s why we don’t have companies from these sectors:
- nuclear power
- coal power, coal mining
- Oil Sand Mining
- tobacco industry
- nuclear, civilian or controversial weapons (e.g. cluster munitions)
Doing something good with my investments is certainly good. But doesn’t it also cost returns or diversification if you rely on sustainable ETFs?
No, scientific studies clearly show that sustainable investments do not achieve poorer returns in the long term. The companies in the ESG Screened ETFs correspond to 90% of those in the standard ETFs. That means the diversification is practically identical. Investments in the sectors mentioned above are simply dispensed with. The ETFs are not more expensive either, because the product costs (TER) correspond to those of the standard ETFs.
Can I choose ETFs myself at findependent?
Many clients tell us that they want to build their ETF portfolio themselves. I believe that there is still no good solution for your own ETF investment solution or an ETF savings plan in Switzerland. Swiss online banks are expensive for small or monthly investment sums. And with the robos, you can usually not choose the ETFs yourself.
That’s why we want to close this gap with our new feature. Since October 2021 you can create your own ETF investment solution. You can choose from around 30 ETFs that we have put through their paces beforehand. And the best thing is that you can create your own solution from as little as 5,000 francs. It is also just as cheap as one of the predefined ETF investment solutions.
When pre-selecting, we choose ETFs that also effectively invest in the underlying benchmark index (so-called physical replication). We also rely on ETFs that are traded on the Swiss stock exchange. We also make sure that they are cheap. To do this, we take into account the size of the ETF, the product fees (TER), the trading spread and the tracking error, i.e. how much the ETF deviates from the performance of the benchmark index. We are constantly checking the selection of ETFs and will add more ETFs in the future.
What does a typical portfolio look like with 2,000 francs and 10,000 francs?
From CHF 2,000, all our investment solutions contain the following 9 ETFs. The weighting differs depending on the solution. For example, the portfolio for the balanced strategy then looks like this:
- Switzerland SPI 18.0%
- Swiss equities SPI Mid 6.0%
- United States 18.6%
- European equities 7.8%
- Japan 3.0%
- Emerging Market Equities 6.6%
- Corporate bonds in CHF 22.4%
- Emerging market bonds in USD 5.6%
- Real estate Switzerland 10.0%
- Liquidity 2.0%
By the way, you will find an easy-to-read fact sheet with all the information for each solution on our website.
Does the findependent investment app offer savings plans? Can I invest money every month with a standing order?
That’s fine. We even welcome a staggered entry. Because you can never exactly find the ideal time to buy (and sell). The stock markets follow fluctuations in the real economy and speculation.
You are still a young company. How safe is my money with findependent?
We’re still young, but you don’t have to compromise on safety with us. The money and the facilities are not with us. Rather, the account is in your name at our partner bank, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg. You can access your money and investments at any time. They legally belong only to you and are protected by the bank or us in the event of bankruptcy.
Is findependent really independent of the Hypothekarbank Lenzburg? Who owns findpedent?
A very important question that I would be happy to answer transparently for you. As a custodian bank, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg manages our customers’ funds. She takes care of the execution of stock exchange transactions and customer identification when opening an account. Otherwise, we are completely independent of the Aargauer Bank and decide 100% ourselves in which ETFs we invest.
findependent is majority owned by founder Matthias Bryner. In addition, some friends and family members are involved.
You’ve been on the market for a few months. How many customers do you already have?
We have been around since summer 2020. We only started to appear publicly with the launch of the digital account opening in February 2021. Since then we have grown rapidly. We are now approaching the 1,000 customer mark.
Who is the findependent investment app made for? Which people use your offer?
Our target group is young. We accompany young people on their first steps in investing. We make systems easy and convenient. This is because, on the one hand, we follow the “mobile first” approach and, on the other hand, you can invest with us from as little as 500 francs. We keep the costs as low as possible through lean processes.
What plans and goals do you have for the findependent investment app 2022?
In the coming months we want to continue to expand the findependent investment app together with our customers and ensure that more people learn about us.
Finally: I think you brought our readers a findependent code as a gift?
Clear! With the findependent code Smolio , you benefit as a reader of Smolio and can invest up to 3,000 francs for a lifetime without administration and custody fees. So you can try out the findependent investment app for yourself. Simply enter the code when opening an account, it is not possible afterwards.
Thomas: Thanks for the interview Matthias and continued success! The minimum investment of 500 francs is very small. Trying out the solution for free and investing the first CHF 3,000 free of charge for life are further plus points.
Wir sind dir dankbar, wenn du bei einer Kontoeröffnung unseren Code nutzt. Wir erhalten dann eine kleine Vergütung. Für dich wird es dadurch nicht teurer und wir können die Kosten für den Betrieb der Plattform decken..