Interview with Morten Bruun
is a FinTech startup based in Copenhagen. We work hard to create an alternative to your pension. Our core principle is that retirement savings should be invested to promote a stronger planet and society. With no tradeoff between sustainability and return on investment, your life savings can help fund the transition to a sustainable future.
Could you please introduce Penstable and what led to your co-founding the company?
It probably makes sense to talk about why we founded the company in a sense that if we look at the U.N. has listed the largest issues in the world ranging from global health, to access to clean water, to access to food, to education, to environmental issues and so on and so forth. If we look at a range of different issues and the biggest problems in the world that actually turns out that the majority of the problems actually solvable using today's technology. So when we look at why is it that we haven't solved those problems already. It's no longer a matter of that we don't have the right tech and pace to actually take action upon those rather it's a matter of when we invest our resources. So obviously this puts a lot of responsibility into us as a society in order to decide upon why do we choose to invest our resources into something that doesn't really promote and help solve those issues or do we choose actually to try to make a difference in making the world a better place. That's basically where Penstable was born out of. So why do we then focus on pensions? Well if we look at all the stocks that is being owned in the world 50 percent of all stocks are owned by pension funds. So from a macro point perspective this is a huge opportunity and obviously like a substantial amount of those money being invested by pension companies or invested in oil companies coal companies companies from promoting child labor and what have you. So what we choose to do is basically to create a pension fund that instead of investing in all these bad things choose to invest it in good things that actually makes a difference. So from a macro point of perspective you can say that the reason why we created Penstable was basically to take on the biggest issues in the world and try to solve them and make the world a better place using the largest amount of financial resources that we have accessible.
How has being nominated for Forbes' 30 Under 30 affected your career?
So being nominated for Forbes 30 under 30 has meant a lot to me. I wouldn't say that it has changed my work I still do the same work as I've been doing up until this point. But it has definitely given me huge access to a tremendous good network of people from all over the world. So we just met up in Tel Aviv a few months ago and meeting up with people that were doing same things but also people who were doing something that is vastly different from what I do has been super inspiring and I've learned so much from just spending a couple of days with these people. So I'd say that it had affected me in numerous ways mainly around like my network. The inspiration that I'm getting is something that I thought a lot about ever since. So it has definitely been a totally unique experience for me in multiple dimensions.
We saw that you're also working with Google as an Industry Manager. Could you please tell us a bit more about your work there?
As an industry manager at Google I'm responsible for all our client engagement with Danish top companies within the telco business, within media, and within FMCG. So what we do with these companies is that we work with them on digital transformation projects covering their product areas that Google provides. So they'll be within marketing media, marketing technologies, cloud, as well AI, and innovation. So we work with around 50 different companies in Denmark and I care for the clients within telco, media and FMCG. So it typically ranges from selling the overall strategy to go with the C-level team and then leading up the different projects that we agree on together with a team of specialist analysts and different such a subject area expert in your day to day style work.
What has been the feedback from users and clients of Penstable?
When we look at the feedback from users we've seen really really good feedback already. So on our website, we have the possibility of signing up for early access. Right now we already have more than 600 people signing up for when we launch our version in the market which I think is quite significant given the fact that we haven't used any marketing money getting those 600 subscribers. So we are pretty confident in that. There's definitely an interest in the market for them where innovative pension's solution a pension solution that actually invests in something that makes sense for you and pension solutions that gives you transparency and control over your pension fund. So again the strongest indicator for me at least is how many people actually willing to use the product. Given that we don't have launched yet that those 600 people are probably the primary data point that I referred to when we look at some of the feedback. We've also done an extensive amount of market research as well both quantitative and qualitative. One the interesting things that we can actually see is that a lot of the younger people especially the millennials who don't necessarily think about their pension every day what they actually think about is the impact that they are making on the environment. Is the social impact that they're having on the world. So when we asked them about what do we think about a pension product that to be able to articulate their potential social impact or the social impact that your pension fund has as was some of the financial performance that the pension fund is delivering they're actually saying that they'd value more both the ability to articulate and the actual social impact returns over their financial performance off their pension fund. That not being said that financial performers don't matter it's just that that sort of like a hygiene factor a baseline that you want to have me a benchmark competitive financial performance but a lot of the younger people actually value the social impact more than that.
How does Penstable enable users to choose what causes their savings go towards?
So one of the interesting trends that we see right now within finance is the need for users to invest in something that they care about. So even though we've seen the rise of ETFs where we see even where sort of ETFs space around whatever your interests. Are so interested in tech are you interested, in the environment, are interested in energy and so on and so forth. Obviously for us as people you can almost say that we are what we invest in. Similarly for impact investment as well. Our vision of Penstable is to allow users to be able to invest into specific causes that they actually care about. That would be that one person might care about education. Another one might care about global health. A third person might care about the environment and energy. So over time, we want to enable users to be able to invest in the specific causes. Right now we're launching with one single portfolio. The reason why we're sort of restricted only doing data is basically that that supply of up investments assets that is being categorized has not been build out yet. So that is building up quite rapidly. Right now a lot of new ETF are launching and we are also exploring opportunities together with financial companies that are creating new ETF’s and investment products to do specific investment products around those causes that we have categorized as well. So that is definitely a division of the product currently we have one portfolio that you invest in. But over time we want to enable users to invest in the specific cost that they care about to be more specific more customized and more personalized towards the individual contribution.