By: 5 October 2023

Syfe’s chief marketing officer shares his thoughts on investing and the strength of the fintech sector in Asia

An interview with Sebastian Sieber

Can you tell me about Syfe?  

Syfe was established in 2019 by its current chief executive officer, Dhruv Arora. The company embarked with a selection of managed portfolios designed to nurture long-term wealth and retirement planning, catering to varying risk appetites. What we are presently endeavouring is the creation of a unified platform for comprehensive financial management. 

Presently, we offer three pivotal components. The first encompasses savings, encompassing cash management solutions for those seeking minimal risk exposure. The second entails our managed portfolios, encompassing growth portfolios, and subsequently expanding into passive income and themes such as ESG. Lastly, we provide a fully-equipped brokerage platform, recognising the occasional desire of individuals to exercise their personal investment preferences, such as the ownership of shares in companies like BMW as an example. 

Our overarching objective is to afford individuals the capability to manage their wealth through a singular, integrated platform, irrespective of their specific preferences. 

What type of customers do you attract? 

We find that the people who like what we offer are usually working professionals. These are people who have good education, make a decent income, and have significant savings. They might not have enough to qualify for private banking services at a regular bank, which usually requires having at least $5m. So, they end up with the same services as everyone else. This is where we come in. We can give them some extra personal attention, customisation, and access to high-quality financial products. In the regular financial world, these kinds of services are usually only available to the top 1%. 

What is your role? 

I’ve been here pretty much since the beginning. Like in most new companies, people wear different hats. So, I’ve done everything from talking to customers to handling human resources. But my main job has always been marketing and distribution. From a pure acquisition focus, with now over 100,000 customers in Singapore alone (which is significant given that there are only 3.5m Singaporeans), I’m more focused on keeping our existing customers happy and helping them grow their investments. 

Which markets have you targeted? 

We started in Singapore because it’s a great fit for us in terms of the kinds of customers we want to help. We’ve also expanded to Hong Kong. Even though these places have different cultures, they face similar challenges. People here tend to earn good money, but property prices are high, which makes it harder to invest. Plus, inflation is high. So, these markets make more sense for us compared to places like India or Vietnam. 

But we’re looking to grow further in the future, with our sights on the broader APAC region. 

How do you market to new markets?  

When we want to introduce ourselves in a new place, it’s not just about making people aware of us. It’s also about teaching them about what we do. We have a blog that covers all sorts of topics about investing. We also hold educational webinars. These aren’t just about selling our products, but also about giving general advice on investing. 

What are your thoughts on investing? 

We’re all about helping people invest for the long term, and it’s been a good strategy. Last year was tough for the stock market. Many people weren’t trading as much. A lot of companies dealing with cryptocurrencies faced challenges or even closed down. But our investors stuck with us. We didn’t promise them they’d get rich quick. Instead, we encouraged a methodical approach to investing. It’s about getting started and regularly adding more. This way, when the stock market goes down, you’re buying at lower prices. If you look at portfolios now, even those that started in August 2021 have probably made some profit. They bought when prices were high, but also when they were low, so the overall average is good. 

This kind of long-term investing can be tough to promote, especially because nobody likes to see short-term losses. But if people stick to it, they can enjoy the rewards in the long run. 

How strong is the fintech sector in Asia? 

Singapore has become a big hub for fintech in the world, especially in Asia. The government and the central bank are very supportive and forward-thinking when it comes to fintech. This shows in the rules and regulations they make. They encourage the growth of this sector. You can see this in events like the Singapore FinTech Festival. It’s also evident in the many fintech companies based here. They cover all aspects of finance, from investment platforms like ours to major payment companies. It’s a great place to start and run a fintech business. 

Asia, as a whole, is one of the most exciting regions for fintech. It has been growing for the last 10 years and is expected to keep growing. This isn’t just because of the population, but also because people here are earning more and have more money to spend. From here, you can reach about 3b people. If you add China to the mix, that’s almost half of the world’s population. Singapore is perfectly placed to be the gateway to this part of the world. 

Many countries in this region are still catching up in some areas of finance, like credit cards. But some of them might skip credit cards altogether. For example, places like the Philippines and Indonesia already have a lot of people using digital wallets. They might leapfrog over older ways of doing things and go straight to modern digital solutions. This will be really interesting to watch. These countries generally have younger populations who are more open to trying new things compared to places like Europe or the US, where the population is older. 

What prompted your participation in the Asia FinTech Awards? 

We like to take part in a few awards, but very selectively. We want to show what we do, and it’s nice to get recognised by others for our hard work. It’s also a good chance to showcase some of the new things we’ve come up with and how they’ve made a difference. 

The categories that the Asia FinTech Awards have are a great match for our business. They cover a wide range of fintech areas, from the big picture to more specific details. Also, the panel of judges is a group of highly experienced people who contributed a lot to the fintech ecosystem. 

Image: Syfe  

Josh Poyser
Josh Poyser is an editor at FinTech Intel. He has written about fintech for several years and appeared at FinTech Connect 2023 on the 'Unlocking Success: The Art of Fintech PR' panel.