Sometimes I have a hard time distinguishing between casinos and brokers. Casinos always make money from punters and brokers always win whether traders make or lose money. Both can be a fun way to usually lose money, because the occasional dopamine hit from winning makes you forget the losses.
Rich traders use expensive services such as Bloomberg that Efi profiled on Tuesday. They are the customer not the product.
Poor traders use free services that monetize by selling eyeballs to brokers; they are the product not the customer. These are the traders famously derided by somebody at Goldman Sachs as “muppets”. This problem is evident in all markets, but worst in Finance/Fintech. Look at the biggest payouts for various forms of advertising and you will often find some variant of brokerage or casino. In anecdotal evidence, Daily Fintech get lots of enquiries “about the possibility of publishing a sponsored article” from advertisers who are in the brokerage or casino industries. Hint to all who reach out – the answer is no.
So what is the answer? Paying $1,000 per month for a Bloomberg is not the answer for most people.
The free option is also challenging, Market data is not free, because it is usually a big revenue line for stock exchanges. Online advertising is in free fall (unless you are called Google or Facebook) so only services who make a lot of money from traders will be able to afford to advertise.
This is not a market that will get VC funds salivating. It might appeal to impact investors who understand that inequality is a huge problem that has been made worse during 2020. Traders using stimulus checks to buy overvalued tech stocks on free brokerage services will not end well.
The solution needs to help people fund their retirement and children’s education by investing well. This is difficult but not impossible or rocket science; lots of people have done this in the past.
The solution needs to empower people and is likely to include these 4 components:
- Financial education content that has no objective other than to educate. It must not be used to sell advertising to brokers. It must work for long term fundamental investors who will never make much money for brokers ie they may only buy and sell a couple of times a year.
- Free personalized advice donated by volunteers. No matter how good the content, people will need personalized advice. That is usually very expensive. Fortunately there are plenty of people who are willing to give back to society by donating their time for free. Their contributions need to be solicited, aggregated and policed.
- Easy ways to aggregate to get better price from service providers. One reason poor people stay poor is that they have no clout, but in aggregate they have clout. 1,000 people with $10k to spend is $10m and that gets you respect/clout.
- Low cost (not free) service paid for by philanthropically motivated sponsors. It has to be a paid service so that there is a sustainable revenue model that is not driven by advertisers, but it has to be free for users who would otherwise sign on to be sold to the sell side.
If anybody is motivated to help build this please reach out via the form below. Help create the future. We are interested in talking to people who will donate services or cash to help build this.
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