Prashant Nagarajan was in the grip of a conundrum.

He knew planners often overlooked Millennials because they had less money than retirees. Likewise, he understood that Millennials were less likely to value financial advice at such a young age.

So he decided to build a bridge between the two seemingly incompatible worlds by creating a company targeted at the Millennial and Gen Y markets – but with a difference.

“When I was working at AMP and ANZ, I constantly found that when people came in to me at 50, they were really playing with postponing judgement day at that point,” he says. “There is so much you could have done by that stage if you had started earlier. “So I thought, ‘Let’s make financial advice affordable for Millennials and Gen Y.’ ”

But more than just making the advice affordable, Nagarajan wanted to upend the service delivery model to suit the vernacular and tastes of younger people.

“You’re looking at the Netflix generation and I put myself in that mix,” he says. “They don’t understand the difference between an upfront fee and an ongoing fee. You need to dial it down to a model like a telco or Netflix would offer them. We’re of that generation that doesn’t like to see that word ‘contract’, we don’t like to see the word ‘lock-in.’ ”

So at the beginning of the year, Nagarajan launched the subscriber-model business Finnacle, which offers financial advice for younger people month-by-month. At the moment, subscribers can choose from an introductory price of $49 or $79 a month.

Nagarajan tested the model by building the business around saving for a distinct goal, in this case, home ownership.

“I wanted to take a very practical approach, so I started off offering two monthly packages built around the goal of home ownership,” he says. “The reason we are choosing housing affordability is that I know how difficult it is to buy and build. I recently bought my own land and built a house, and I found that bloody confusing – and I’m in financial services.

“Lots of people were trying to sell me something and I found it quite ruthless.”

Over the coming months, Finnacle will unveil additional savings goal packages, such as starting a family and buying a car.

“The first month is free and about 70 per cent of people who do the free trial then become a paying customer,” Nagarajan says. “They have invested the time in learning and they know we have, too, so they generally move on to the next stage with us.”

Nagarajan is based in Melbourne’s south-east. He relies on a team of consultants, including accountants and mortgage brokers, to help each client.

“In the future, we want to give back to customers 20 per cent of any commissions on insurance or any annual mortgage trailing commissions kickbacks,” he says. “We don’t have a lot of operational expenses, so we can afford to keep our fees cheaper.”

Nagarajan also says there are no limits on the advice he offers. He provides SoAs and modelling – whatever the client needs to reach their goals — and he doesn’t cap the time he spends on clients.

So far, it’s been a huge hit.

“Up until the end of May, we were taking up to one new trial a week,” he says. “Now we are not actively marketing at all. We just take referrals, and we are looking at bringing another adviser into the business at the end of the month.”

Most importantly, he feels fulfilled knowing he is helping a generation that doesn’t typically frequent a planner’s office.

“I’m loving it because it is so fulfilling,” he says. “Our clients tell us there is no way they would have spoken to someone like me otherwise. “So it’s doing what I intended it to do.”


Name of firm: Finnacle Solutions.
Name of licensee (if not self-licensed): Lifespan Financial Planning
Years in the industry (previous jobs?): Eight years (previous stints as a planner at ANZ and AMP)
Academic qualifications: advanced diploma in financial planning; master’s degree in international business; graduate diploma in management; bachelor’s degree in engineering
Accreditations: Financial Planner AFP, Financial Planning Association


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