Two Years On: Following Up with Duncan Stevens, CEO of Gretel

We first spoke to Duncan Stevens two years ago, back in December 2020 about how Gretel started, what advice Duncan would give to other aspiring entrepreneurs, and what we can hope to see from them in the future. We’re incredibly excited to have caught up with him again, two years on.

As a reminder, Gretel is a financial utility which helps financial organisations and their customers reconnect with lost and dormant bank accounts, pensions, savings and investments. Using smart AI-enabled technology, Gretel is able to match customer details with those held by institutions to generate a comprehensive view of the customer’s entitlements.


Gretel logo


What have been your greatest achievements with the business? 


We designed Gretel to solve one of the big hidden problems in financial services, tracking down lost assets. Over the years nearly 20 million people in the UK have become disconnected from financial products they own, everything from bank accounts to child trust funds, pensions and other investments.

Since launch earlier this year we are now making a real difference to people lives and putting money back in their wallets at this difficult time. We have reconnected millions of pounds to people who wouldn’t otherwise have had it and for me it is great to know Gretel is delivering on its social purpose. With an escalating cost of living crisis, our platform feels more relevant now than ever before, so it’s genuinely pleasing to know we can be part of the solution to this enormous problem.

With this area of financial services being overlooked for so many years, it is also a real honour to have won a number of industry awards, for both innovation in consumer finance and the technology at the heart of our solution.


We’re two years on, how has it been? How many companies have signed up and how many customers do you have?


We’re delighted with how many companies have signed up and with dozens more are actively talking to us, we expect to continue our rapid growth. Nonetheless we are keen to get as many financial companies on board as possible, particularly the older financial institutions who have moved from paper to electronic databases over time and lost track of their customer details.

We have also seen an overwhelming demand from consumers, no doubt in part due to the current economic crisis, with tens of thousands registering in just the first few months People get married, move home, change jobs etc, making it difficult for them to keep track of every account and for financial institutions to remain in contact with them.

Gretel uses AI and Open Banking to deliver a free, simple and accessible means to search for assets across the entire financial industry. Our technology replaces the need for repetitive form filling, thereby transforming a process which previously took months into one which takes just three minutes. However, we want to do more to help, so we will be engaging with even more financial companies in 2023 to help them reconnect with lost customers.


Have you experienced any difficulties? 


Like many start-ups we’ve experienced frustrations and life as a founder is most definitely an emotional roller coaster. Perhaps the greatest frustration is that we would have liked to have moved faster to help more people but, despite being fast and agile ourselves, we can only ever go at the speed of our corporate clients.

We are also still a small team and there is therefore sometimes a bandwidth challenge with only so many hours in the day. This is a simple one to fix thankfully, so to keep up with client and consumer demand, we look forward to expanding the team in 2023.


How is the financial services industry likely to change further in 2023?


The introduction of a new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Consumer Duty code promises to be one of the biggest shake-ups to retail financial services regulation in over 15 years.

In October financial companies had to put together blueprints to support customers in these straitened times and ensure customers get good outcomes. It means they are looking at every operational process that exists and their customer data is instrumental in this. Without good customer data they can’t deliver good customer outcomes.

There is now board level commitment to the implementation of Consumer Duty, with the requirements around governance and accountability for all senior decision makers, as a result of this we are having more conversations with financial companies about how Gretel can help them solve some of their legacy data issues and future proof existing customer data. It means making lasting changes to culture and behaviour to consistently deliver good outcomes. 

By end of July 2023 the new duty has to be in place for current customers and by July 2024 for any legacy customers and their data. This is great news for the public as Consumer Duty is at the heart of making financial services work well for everyone. It means putting customers in a position where they can make informed decisions, which fits well with Gretel and our aims to put people’s finances back into their control.


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