After launching its investment app in 2021, initially offering shares and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), wealth management platform Pearler has set itself the ‘boring’ goal of helping people become successful long-term investors as it expands its offerings.
The Sydney-based business secured a $7.8 million investment earlier this month in a seed round led by Canadian fintech specialist Portage Ventures, supported by Australian venture capital firms Archangel Ventures and TEN13.
Pearler co-founder and CEO Nick Nicolaides admits the raise provides a good foundation for the business and will allow for patient development, but it is not the war chest that some other players in the market have at their disposal.
“We always knew that we were taking quite a countercultural view of what trading can be. Along the way, there have probably been half a dozen new trading apps entering the market, all with astronomical budgets and amounts raised,” Nicolaides told Business News Australia.
“Rather than knowing we had something special, we knew we had something different, and we still really haven't seen anyone approach wealth with shares as a core component.
“Our emphasis at Pearler is that share investing is a part of managing your wealth and a tool to achieve those longer-term goals, so we've always been focused on that more holistic journey.”
Nicolaides thinks millions of young people in the middle of their careers are missing out on innovation around guidance, advice or support, and not many businesses have cottoned on to that yet. With much of the focus on different ends of the wealth spectrum, he believes Pearler fills the gap between advice and share trading.
Having onboarded 53,000 customers already, Pearler’s focus will be on continuing to build out different products while patiently growing and scaling.
Besides the online brokerage function, Pearler offers its customers a micro-investing facility that allows investors to make small regular investments plus roundups from everyday transactions.
It also offers a sophisticated rebalancing tool called ‘auto invest’ that allows investors to set rules across multiple bank accounts and automate their spending, saving and investing.
“What we've been focused on is how to make investing more connected to everyday life, and a core part of that is integrating with your bank accounts, being able to shorten the gap between what you're spending, your bills, what you've got leftover, and what you're investing,” Nicolaides said.
“We wrap that up into auto-invest, one of our unique features when we launched, and we're doubling down on that.
“With open banking, as that continues to evolve, we're working with partners like Basiq and Zepto to get deep into how all of your finances can be run by a central dashboard, and we're hoping that dashboard becomes Pearler.”
The co-founders of Pearler are also looking at building a standalone app that parents can use to automatically invest on behalf of their kids towards life goals, as well as looking at a superannuation solution.
The team at Pearler were introduced to Portage Ventures through an old colleague of Nicolaides at JP Morgan and followed the company's progress through monthly founder newsletters.
With US$3 billion under management, the global fintech investor partners with some of the world’s most innovative financial technology companies and was impressed by the growth and acceleration at Pearler.
“We are really excited to be backing Nick and the Pearler team as they build the next generation of holistic investing products,” Portage Ventures partner Stephanie Choo said.
“Our thesis is that there is a big gap in the market between trading single stocks and having an advisor do everything for you.”
With the market currently not too conducive to everyone investing in continually growing stocks, Pearler is looking at filling the space.
“What attracts investors is our emphasis on helping young investors navigate their wealth journey over the next 20, 30 or 40 years while giving them the tools to navigate any market environment,” Nicolaides said.
"We are not interested in enabling investing as a series of transactions. Rather, our process is about helping people set goals and achieve them over the long term in a simple and efficient way.
“We believe automation will play an increasingly important role in managing investments, and it is central to our business development plans.”
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