Interview with Duncan Leslie, VP Product for Freetrade

  • Freetrade Ltd is a UK based financial technology company which offers a freemium share dealing service.
  • Freetrade was founded by CEO Adam Dodds and Davide Fioranelli in 2015.
  • Freetrade launched on iOS in October 2018 and on Android in April 2019.
  • In 2019 the company completed a $15m Series A funding round led by Draper Esprit.



Who are Freetrade and what is your company ethos?


VP Product, Duncan Leslie: Freetrade is a challenger stockbroker that pioneered commission-free investing in the UK.

Our goal is to make investing truly accessible to everyone. That means offering a high-quality service with a fair and transparent pricing model. But also we’ll do the hard work to break down the jargon and complexities that present barriers to the everyday consumer. Investing is so important to long-term financial security; we believe everyone should feel confident getting started.


What is the role you hold at Freetrade and what does it entail?


My role is VP Product. Put simply that means defining the vision for our service – what are challenges we’re solving for people – and working with our team to ensure we’re delivering the most impactful things in order to reach our goals so clients can reach theirs.

Day-to-day that starts with speaking with people to really understand their financial aims, individual contexts and current challenges. By deeply empathising with people’s real-world needs we can start to design the solutions that help to eliminate them.


What were some of the challenges in the transition from your former position at Monzo to your new position at Freetrade?


My previous two roles were at Hargreaves Lansdown and Monzo. Rather than presenting challenges transitioning to Freetrade, I believe both set me up well to hit the ground running.

Spending 14 years at the UK’s leading investment platform gives me a great foundation of knowledge to bring to Freetrade, both from a technical point of view, but crucially a deep

understanding of customer needs, pains and expectations in the retail investing space, and the level of service and relentless focus on the customer required to deliver an exceptional product that people love and trust.

Joining Monzo gave me the opportunity to work at a successful challenger bank using the most modern technology and product development processes. There was a strong focus on data science to inform direction, and moving at pace to discover and remove problems. It was a great experience and I’ll bring some of that ‘scale up’ culture with me to support Freetrade’s next phase of growth.


What are the main products that Freetrade offers, and how do they differ from other products  in the market?


Freetrade’s core offering is a mobile app, available on iOS and Android, that lets you invest in hundreds of stocks and ETFs through either a general investment account or a Stocks and Shares ISA. We are different from existing firms as we do not charge any custodial or trading fees and we work hard to make the process of investing as simple and jargon-free as possible. We believe people shouldn’t feel put off by complicated terms and spreadsheets of confusing data; everyone should be able to find good, robust long-term investments to build a well-balanced portfolio.



How does Freetrade work to alleviate pre-existing problems in the market?


Our CEO and founder, Adam Dodds, decided to launch Freetrade after struggling to find a stockbroker that was easy-to-use, cheap to access yet retained the highest level of customer service. That remains the guiding principle of the company. We want to make investing accessible and affordable for everyone. Freetrade now has over 100,000 customers, so it seems Adam wasn’t the only one frustrated with the existing offerings!


How have Freetrade been able to maintain a ‘personal touch’ to their products whilst simultaneously expanding as a business?


If we expect people to trust us with their savings we have to truly care about them – and being open, honest and transparent with clients is part of our ethos. We have a strong and active community we’re constantly engaging with. Everyone at Freetrade interacts with customers in some shape or form and we are always listening to what they have to say and using it to help inform our decisions.


What is Freetrade’s five-year plan?


For now, our immediate plans are to launch fractional shares and add more stocks to the Freetrade app. In the long-run, we are going to launch a subscription service that will act as our key source of revenue.

Ultimately the goal is to provide a world-class service that empowers people with any degree of knowledge and experience in stocks and shares to start investing and earning better returns on their savings – so we’ll be working towards achieving that mission.


What does Freetrade do to stay one step ahead of its competitors in the market?


Freetrade pioneered commission-free investing in the UK and I think that speaks to how we stay ahead of other companies in the retail investment space. Instead of focusing on what they’re doing, we are always looking at how to improve our products. Taking risks is part of that but building a strong community is key too, as we can use customer feedback to make sure we are providing the services that people want.


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