Claro is the UK’s first financial coaching app, designed to encourage everyone to make smarter financial decisions and drive a lasting change in the way society manages money. We’ve just launched publicly (on the 16th of August) to a waiting list of over 25,000.
Inside the Claro app, users can speak to a real financial coach, view their spending across multiple accounts, create goals, as well as choose saving and investing products based on their timeline, risk levels and values.
Our aim is to provide users with the education, support and tools to allow them to achieve their personal financial goals – whether that’s building an emergency fund, buying a home or investing for the future.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
There’s a financial advice gap in the UK which means that current financial guidance is primarily focused on high-net-worth individuals. Financial advice is well known to increase people’s wealth, as well as their confidence. However, the high cost of financial advice means that only 6% of British people are currently able to afford it.
We believe that everyone should be able to access financial tools and services, which is where Claro comes in. Financial Coaching is an affordable, accessible alternative to financial advice, that can help a wide variety of people, regardless of how much they have to invest or where they are in their financial journey.
As well as financial coaching, we wanted people to be able to manage their finances all in one place. So in Claro, you can track your spending, create your financial plan, set your goals, and find saving, investment and insurance products that suit you. This means you have all the tools, as well as the support, to achieve your goals.
Existing financial apps usually focus only on the end stages – the actual saving and investing. Claro is unique because we help people learn, plan, save and invest – the total financial journey.
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How has the company evolved during the pandemic?
The company has evolved in many ways during the pandemic, but in some aspects, in the opposite way to which you might expect.
From a people perspective, given that Claro started at the brink of the pandemic, things like remote working were there from the beginning.
Our COO and I are from tech backgrounds, so we selected the cloud-based tools that have allowed a very flexible working existence. We did have a small coworking office space from Jan-Mar 2020 for just 2 people, then went fully remote until August 2020, when we came back with about 12 people. Obviously, this was very short-lived, and it was back to being remote again. In May 2021, we moved back into our office when our people count was up to 30. So it wasn’t a ‘return’ to office situation, it was a ‘start using the office’ situation. This has been great for us as running up to launch we’ve really benefitted from in-person creative team sessions.
From a process perspective, we have had to be much more structured than the average startup that can meet up on day one. This has been challenging but has put us in good stead for growth. We have built a team of great people across many skill sets, who can already work together on a scheduled and remote basis. If anything, we need to get a bit more of an impulse culture to keep the creative ideas coming and give them room to be heard.
Given we are now moving into our next funding round, we find ourselves now looking to put ourselves out into the industry, by attending events and getting our message heard. Having to do this last year would have been a nightmare given the remote constraints for this, so we’re very much looking forward to ‘normality’ returning to the business world.
I would say the pandemic also helped to shape our product. During the pandemic, many people have realised that their financial situation is perhaps not as robust as they would like and those simple things like emergency funds are not in place. This has allowed us to work with beta users to get insights that we believe will be more common given what has happened. Hopefully, this will make our job of emphasising the importance of a strong financial plan a little easier.
What can we hope to see from Claro in the future?
Claro has big ambitions. The advice gap in the UK is huge, finance is still not adequately taught in schools and the younger generations seem to be aware that they are lacking that. My generation missed out, and many of them are suffering due to this lack of education.
We passionately believe that we can plug a huge gap in the market with coaching-led, personalised financial education, combined with affordable and suitable financial products as part of one ecosystem. We are aggressively looking to roll out our new fully digital coaching experience to sit alongside our 1-1 personal one. We believe they are complimentary but want people to have the choice.
It’s key for us that we don’t follow the path of ‘advice services’ which are all about investments due to their revenue models. We want to retain a broad revenue model and a larger set of suitable products (with insurance and pensions coming soon). This will allow for someone to come to Claro with any goal, for example building an emergency fund, and be able to build a long term relationship with a coach, and for a small subscription fee, have access to products that might not all be currently suitable right now, but will be once they are further in their financial journey.
We are excited by a few partnerships that we are currently working on to expand the available services, and working on a B2B Claro version that we feel will really help small-medium businesses in the future.