Scott Tindle, co-founder of ‘bite-sized’ news service Finimize, on demystifying financial ‘jargon’ for millennials, publishing the two most important pieces of global business news daily and wanting more personal finance content.
What is Finimize and why did you decide now was the right time to launch?
The main aim is to make financial news more accessible to people. The idea came about because my co-founder, Max [Rofagha], had some money to invest. He’d made a New Year’s resolution to read the financial news so that he was more educated in that area and able to put that money to work in an intelligent way. Pretty quickly he broke that New Year’s resolution because he realised he wouldn’t be able to keep reading the financial news every day. He didn’t find it interesting, he didn’t find it easy to understand and found it, frankly, a bit of a challenge.
So that was where the idea came from. He wanted something that was simple, easy to read, explains the news and doesn’t use financial jargon. Max got in touch with me – we’re old university friends – and he pitched the idea to me and I came on board. That’s the genesis of it. We did that for about six months part-time and realised we were on to something. Our user growth was pretty impressive and we weren’t really putting that much into it and so on the 1 September 2015 we decided to launch full time.
Who is your target audience?
We target millennials (18-35 year olds) because they’re probably the group that’s least accessible, in terms of financial news. A lot of them are still learning about finance, but they’re also most likely to adapt to new ways of consuming news. Having said that, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of older people that read the email because they find it a useful read first thing in the morning as they’re going into their jobs. In London it’s designed for the commute, but in New York it comes out at 10pm, so a lot of people read it at the end of the day.
What is the size of the editorial team, and who covers what?
At the moment, it’s just me writing them. Max co-writes and edits them once I’ve done the first draft. He acts as the average reader: if he doesn’t understand something, we have to change it. That collaborative writing format has worked really well for us. We also have an editor in New York, who has decades of financial news experience. She has a final look at things, as well as some general input. We’ve also got someone who’s an adviser who works at an investment bank who gives us guidance as we go.
What is a typical day for you?
The morning is spent mainly on things that aren’t content related. For me it’s primarily marketing. We’ve been doing it since 1 September and have grown at a strong rate – we want this to continue. After lunch, I really start focusing on the markets, unless something unusual has happened in the morning. From then on it’s basically about compiling a shortlist of the ten or so stories that we might cover, and over the course of the day whittling them down to two and doing some proper research around those stories. Then we write them and get them uploaded. That usually goes on until after the US markets close, partly because most of the time the main news stories break after the US closes (4pm ET), so a lot of work can be done in the late evening.
How do you decide what content makes it on to the newsletter?
If our readers are only going to read two financial stories a day, which two should they read? The answer to that question is the two articles we write up. What we do not do is use an algorithm to see who’s been reading what, and generate an automatic email that we can just fire out; that would be a tech solution to the problem, which doesn’t solve the problem. So I actually spend a vast chunk of my day sifting through all the financial news and deciding in conjunction with the others what people should read. It’s a very manual process. We try to pick one micro-finance story and one macro-finance story: one economic story and one story about a particular business or an M&A story or about results etc. That’s the general, guiding principle.
Are there any particular topics in the finance world that you’d like to hear about?
Personal finance is under-covered. You can understand why; it’s tough because it’s very dependent on people’s individual circumstances. It’s something we hope to pursue in the future – it fits in with our wider aim of educating people on finance.
Can you talk to us about Finimize’s regional focus? What geographical areas are of interest to you and the publication?
The geographical focus is global. We want the two most important financial stories in the world. Simple as that. They tend to have a bit of a US bias naturally, because that’s just where a lot of the big stories come from. Over time we hope to be able to regionalise it, so that if people want more of a focus on Europe, or the UK, or Australia, then that’ll be available to them.
When and how do you prefer to receive press releases?
Email. No preferred time, really.
What are the future plans for the website and newsletter?
Our first priority is to add more content for those that want it. We don’t want to mess with the email for those people who like it as it is. For those that want more, we want there to be more. We’re exploring the idea of regionalisation, again for those that want it. In the long term we want to build up the personal investing component and we want to address the broader problem of how millenials engage with finance. The whole aim is to make finance more accessible. Trouble is there’s a lot of financial websites out there, so how do you do things differently while adding value? That’s the question. We’re trying to disrupt the traditional financial news media and the ways in which they report financial news.
And finally, do you think financial news is too navel-gazing and can become bogged down in its own jargon?
Yes, absolutely! That’s the issue we’re really trying to address. Financial news isn’t really that complicated. You can boil it down to some takeaways. There are ways of making financial news easier to understand. I think a lot of what’s out there is aimed at market professionals and so it uses that jargon because that’s a way to tell the story to them, but that’s true only of a small percentage of the population. You have to try and tell the same story to the man in the street and that’s what we’re trying to do.
Scott was talking to Gorkana’s Richard Caldecourt