Investing may not top the pile of money matters for most young people, but one man is hoping to change the way millennials and generation Z think about their finances.
Unusually, in an industry known for complicating matters, he is doing this by trying to make things simple.
But then, even more unusually, Ben Stanway’s previous entrepreneurial endeavour was a business that shook up the flower delivery world.
Ben, 37, is not only the co-founder of Moneybox – an app that helps people with their investments – but also Bloom & Wild, a flower delivery service.
Blooming businesses: Ben is the co-founder of both Bloom & Wild, a flower company and investing app Moneybox
How did Ben go from setting up one of the UK’s most successful flower businesses to devising an app with an aim to help younger generations invest?
One of the main reasons, he told This is Money, is his passion for helping people with their finances: ‘Many have little to no help with their finances but starting early for saving and banking is crucial.’
Many have little to no help with their finances but starting early for saving and banking is crucial
Ben initially studied business at university before working at financial giant Fidelity, in its investment division, after graduating.
He said: ‘Investing is an interesting profession as you learn a little bit about a lot of different things.
‘Stock prices are influenced by human nature so when you are looking at that, you learn to study and observe human behaviour en masse and how that effects business cycles.’
However, Ben admitted that while he enjoyed his job, he found himself looking for something more.
‘I found myself having existential moments of wanting to physically produce something.’
Flowers should convey love and this very much did not
Ben, on how delivery flowers battered about inspired Bloom & Wild
He decided that he would create a flower business after ordering some online and finding himself appalled at the state they arrived in.
‘The flowers were battered around. All of the elements of the delivery were less than underwhelming.
‘Flowers should convey love and this very much did not.’
Ben (left) pictured with the co-founder of Moneybox, Charlie Mortimer in their London offices
While technology improved, meaning that many businesses were expanding online, Ben believed the flower industry didn’t yet have an effective method of delivery.
He said: ‘Social media meant that everything was getting better on mobile phones but ordering flowers online was still awful.’
Ben visited Holland to learn more about the flower industry and realised they were transported without water – and could survive between three and four days without.
‘From that meeting, I had a kernel of an idea about transporting flowers in a flat box.
‘I teamed up with Aron (co-founder of Bloom & Wild) as he had the attributes I didn’t to make this work, primarily that he ran a technology company.’
Customers order flowers from Bloom & Wild that are delivered in flat boxes
Once the two met, they created Bloom & Wild, specialising in delivering flowers in flat boxes, meaning the receiver doesn’t have to be in to collect them.
It is now one of the biggest online flower companies in Britain and was named by Deloitte as the second fastest growing technology company in the UK.
The brand is now available in the Ireland, Britain, France and Germany.
What was the biggest lesson he learnt when setting up his first business?
‘I learnt the importance of technology,’ he says. ‘I was naïve to how we could build a great experience.
‘To build a great website and app, you need at least 30-40 engineers and I wasn’t aware of that.’
After setting up Bloom & Wild, Ben turned his attention to an area where he could make a difference.
The idea for Moneybox stemmed from both Ben and his co-founder Charlie Mortimer, wanting to create something that would help younger people with their finances.
‘Our view is that it is important to get into the habit of saving and banking. Then things like Lifetime Isa’s become a more natural progression.
‘I wanted to create and impact the future.’
Ben believes there is an attitude that investing is not of the mass market interest, however, he and his colleagues are looking to change that.
Technology: Moneybox lets people look after their Isas and bank accounts through their app
Moneybox aims to do this through its app which lets customers invest money and decide whether they want to be a cautious, balanced or high-risk investor.
It is also well known for its handy round-up feature that will top up, to the nearest pound, money spent. For example, if someone spent £3.50 on lunch, an extra 50p would be invested.
People come out of school not knowing what their finances mean
By encouraging younger people to invest little and often, Ben hopes it will make them more confident when it comes to their finances.
He is passionate that much more could be done to help younger people with their financial education.
He said: ‘I strongly feel that the industry needs shaping up. People come out of school not knowing what their finances mean.’
However, there is still a way to go to get everyone involved in investing as, at the moment, Moneybox’s average customer is 31 years old and male.
This was not intentional on Moneybox’s behalf but it is hoped that as the company progresses, the people beginning to invest will diversify.
Next, the company is looking to tackle people’s pensions.
‘There is an apathy from pension companies to their customers.
‘They take them for granted and there is just the assumption that the customers will stay with them.
‘There is a complete disconnect from pension companies but we believe that people deserve better.’
The team is trialing out a new pension service that will put everyone’s pensions pots in one place so users can keep track of how much is in their pension and helping plan effectively for the future.
It is hoped that this will feature will launch by April.
Ben wants Moneybox to continue growing and is hoping the platform will have upwards of five million users in the future.
At the moment they have 160,000 customers, which they’ve achieved in just under two years.
‘We want Moneybox to be a mass market saving and investment platform. We want to be the place that you go to.’