Interview with Peter Lord
Best Financial Friend get women out of debt with help from their ‘BFF’ who will keep them accountable and share practical steps to help them take control of their money. Affordable 1:1 money training sessions via video chat. BFF
has been designed to meet the needs of women who are losing sleep over debt. They’re not all talk. They’re all about the day-to-day actions that will change their life.
Hey Peter! Could you please tell us a bit more about Best Financial Friend? When did you initially decide to found the company?
Best Financial Friend is a digital money coaching service designed to help women get out of credit card debt. Think of it as personal training, but for your money. We focus on the small things, we start with goals and it's very tangible and tactical. It's an idea I've been working on for about seven years. One of my first businesses, a business called Money Brilliant, was a personal financial management app, but about halfway through that process, I discovered that technology alone can't solve the problem. I started Best Financial Friend with the premise that fundamentally people don't engage with money and people are actually pretty terrible with managing their money. Everything we've done or we're doing is designed to make that easier. We do that by making it small with every little step, by being very tangible, rather than being about big pitches. I think the really important thing is the small things really do matter. We give our members challenges, we set them small tasks. We take all the information which is out there, in regards to money management, and then we give them the tools to help them make better decisions. Most people are pretty time poor so they're not going to read through reams and reams of information or read blogs or whatever it may be, so make it tangible. People are looking for passive solutions particularly when it comes to money, rather than going through and reading all this stuff all over again. I had a good friend who works for a large financial services provider in Australia who was very proud to tell me that they've written 3000 blogs on budgeting. If you're writing 3000 blogs on budgeting it's not working. That's where Best Financial Friend was born.
Why did you decide to focus the company specifically on women going through debt recovery? What unique problems do they face?
The main reason we focused on women is that this is the century of women. Most men have been horribly underserved by the current financial services model. I think most products are designed with men in mind and I think all products should be designed with women in mind. When it comes to money, I think one of the key things is that women actually ask for help more than men. If I got lost in the supermarket I'm never going to ask where the coconut milk is, which is a male thing to do. Women ask for help and women actually help other women, which I think is going to be a key element to our success. For BFF to be successful, we need to create a movement, we want to create a movement of financially well women. Our goal is to get 10,000 women out of credit card debt by 2020. The best way to do that is by working together. There was a health movement which came out in the 80s, which is becoming more of a mindset movement now. I think there should be a money wellness movement, where we actually value people who are financially well rather than racking up and constantly racking up debt, which is the current kind of model where it's spending and hoping everything is going to be okay. But it's not. We target women because they've been underserved, but at the same time, I think in terms of the long-term success of the business they're going to help us grow, and they're going to help each other. When we do help women get out of their credit card debt and bad debt, what we've found is they become better mothers, they become better sisters, they become better daughters, they become better doctors, they become better humans. That's what we're trying to do. We want to help people become better with their money and then become better with their lives. The best way of doing that I think is to target and design the product with women in mind.
You only founded the company earlier this year. How did you build up the networks and partnerships in order to make a company like Best Financial Friend a success?
BFF is one of the things I've been working on for about seven years.
My first app, an app called Money Brilliant, was a personal financial management tool, and in building that I actually really started to build my network and the people I'm talking to now, in particular about partnership opportunities. Lots of people I was working with understood that there is a real problem when it comes to financial wellness, so originally I tackled it around financial literacy which actually most consumers don't care or engage with they just want to know they have all the products they need. I think I've been lucky in the fact that this has been a seven-year journey, when I've come back to solve the problem again, I've already got the warm leads and the warm contacts.
On top of that, I've learned a lot from the previous mistakes I made.
Not only do I have people I can tap on the shoulder and say hey you interested in doing this now, but at the same time, I have a bit of credibility by saying what I've built originally. But I only solved a small part of the problem. When it comes to money management, there are two types of people, there are confident consumers, then you have everyone else. The confident consumer makes up about 20% of the market, they're not smarter than the rest of us, they just have a process. When I go back and have a chat with these people, our partners who are signing now when I say this there's a bit of gravitas because I've lived through it, I've experienced that and we've learned what works and what doesn't work. I think that's what's given us the power and the platform and the partnership opportunities, it's just working on it for seven years.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your work with Best Financial Friend? Are there any particular success stories that stand out?
The thing I most value or find rewarding about working in BFF is helping people. Our goal is simple, my goal is simple, our team's goal is simple, its to help people. Surprisingly the more people we help, the bigger the business becomes, and actually the more money we can make. I think that's something which has been deeply ingrained in my DNA, I like helping people. I've lived through financial stress, I've lived through financial worry. It's hard, It's not a nice place to be in. I've been lucky enough where it's not been a long-term kind of pressure, there have been small moments when it's really kind of peaked. I have empathy for people who have gone through this. The ability to help people get out of debt is an amazingly rewarding experience. They don't have many people they can turn to right now, banks certainly don't offer this kind of advice, it's completely the other way, it's better for them to have their customers in financial stress, who are revolvers of their credit card debt rather than transactors. It's the ability for us to help people and to take them through this process step by step, which is super rewarding, and it's super empowering, not only for us but it's also super empowering for our members. They can go on and share the joy, and they can experience what it feels like to have an emergency fund or have some savings sitting there. We're pretty early on in the journey so far, but all the people have been through the program so far have loved it. We're hoping very soon we'll get a lot more people coming through the door and we can help a lot more.
What's next for your work with Best Financial Friend? What are the main projects, partnerships, and curriculums you'll be focusing on in 2019?
The next big goal for us is scaling the business. In 2019, we're hopefully going to sign a deal with a large publication, which will allow us to get the scale where we can meet and help a lot more people.
At the same time, we'll have to scale and get more BFF money coaches through the door. This year has been all about setting up the process, refining the process, making improvements to the process so that when we're ready to scale, we can do it much easier. That's been the biggest challenge most people have faced when they've tried to build a money coaching service. It's hard to scale, it's hard to reduce the cost of service and that's where we use technology, to reduce that cost of service. That's what our process has been all about. It's about refining that process so that when we're ready and we think we've got it nailed, we can then go ahead and sign a couple of deals, particularly with large audiences, large communities of people and then we can reach a far bigger audience. Our business isn't so much about technology, it's about a process, you can deliver this business pretty cheaply, but you need to make sure the process is super tight. It needs to be repeatable and repeatable so we can reach as many people as possible and help as many people as possible. If we're lucky enough and we continue to get the growth in Australia early in 2019, we can explore and look at other kinds of markets or we can potentially look at different kinds of verticals. Our focus right now is around women. Maybe we can move on to different segments potentially the retiree market, or maybe we can move the model into a whole new different kind of area or provide a different kind of coaching services. But before we get to that, we need to make sure the process is working at a scalable level and we've actually got the numbers coming through the door.