The Silicon Review
Wealthy individuals and institutional investors have always had access to the best advisors, money managers and advice. But Jean Jacques Borno discovered that young professionals with good incomes needed financial planning tools to help them manage their finances. In 2016, Jean established 1787fp, a digital financial planning and money management platform that can help individuals maximize their monthly savings and allocate proper resources.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on everybody, and to help out, 1787fp focused on the core needs of its customers. “We reexamined everything, and we dug deep to understand our customers’ financial challenges,” said Jean Jacques Borno, CEO of 1787fp. The company built smart financial tools to make sure that its customers could pay their essential monthly expenses and didn’t have to live paycheck to paycheck.
In an interview with us, the visionary CEO shared how 1787fp is revolutionizing the financial services industry through its innovations. He also talked about the path ahead for the company as it grows. Read on for excerpts from the interview.
Q. What was your motivation behind starting the company?
I began my career in financial services working as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. During that time, I worked with many young professionals who had very good incomes, but lacked the minimum investment assets required by big banks and brokerage firms. These professionals wanted financial planning tools to help them manage their monthly finances. By applying modern financial planning principles and techniques, I was able to help many of these young professionals optimize their monthly incomes so they could build sizable investment portfolios over the following seven to 10 years.
To better serve my clients, I completed the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP®) professional program, which experts consider to be the gold standard in financial services, and I went on to complete an advanced investment program at the Wharton School.
After completing the CFP®, I faced a crossroad for my personal growth: Should I pursue another advanced industry designation or should I get a master’s degree? After speaking to some mentors and analyzing the career paths of some top CEOs I admired, I decided an MBA would be the best way for me to learn how to lead so I could put my teammates in positions to do their best work.
I applied to several top business schools in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast parts of the United States. I narrowed my list down to three schools. After visiting three programs and sitting in on business classes, I chose the University of Virginia Darden School of Business because of Darden’s case method style of teaching, its tight-knit community, and the quality of its professors and current students.
While a student at Darden, I was recognized as a Washington Post Magazine “Washington DC Five-Star Wealth Advisor.” I started getting a lot of questions from my classmates and other UVA graduate students. The students had questions about how to get started with investments and how to pay off student loan debt. In response, I launched 1787fp from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business to democratize financial planning and money management by developing affordable digital money tools.
Q. The fintech industry is growing quickly, with an increasing number of companies offering an even greater number of online and mobile platforms. How do you distinguish your services from others?
There are some great competitors in the highly fragmented financial services space. However, rather than building mobile tools/apps from scratch, some legacy financial companies have attempted to cram their websites into mobile applications. We don’t think this makes for a great customer experience.
At 1787fp, we have taken the opposite approach by starting with the customer’s problems and then building out our solutions. I think this has allowed us to solve our customers’ most pressing financial problems in unique ways. Also, we have discovered that some customers aren’t happy with any of the financial tools/apps available on the market today, so they have built their own spreadsheets to plan their finances. The problem with this approach is that the data inputs are often stale and dated. Our goal is to build tools that are not only powerful but also easy to use.
Based on our research and customer discovery interviews, our customers want tools to help them manage their day-to-day expenses so they can maximize their monthly savings and pay off their consumer debts. We collect a lot of unique financial data, so we organize these various data sources to help customers find additional ways to save more money.
Over time, we will partner with innovative financial companies to build robust offerings for our customers without the traditional friction of shuffling paperwork back and forth or entering financial data over and over again.
Q. Regulations tend to vary based on location. Tell us about your compliance system.
We take customer privacy and security seriously, so are working with compliance experts to establish our policies. We are first offering our services in the United States, so currently we are setting up our compliance practices to meet U.S. regulatory compliance and security standards. If and when we get our U.S. strategy right, we may seek expansion options after consulting with our board advisors, partners, mentors and team members.
Q. Internet banks and mobile banking create a lack of personal relationships between customers and bank personnel. How do you leverage modern technology to bridge that gap?
Many consumers prefer a mobile-first experience when engaging with their financial institutions. When customers have complex questions, they may seek expert advice. 1787fp’s software bridges this gap by offering mobile tools to engage with financial providers. These interactive types of engagements can be great ways for financial firms to display excellent services and build relationships with their best customers.
Q. Banks and financial institutions depend on service providers like 1787fp to provide a hassle-free experience for their customers. How do you improve the customer experience?
We have examined many of the jobs for which our customers hire financial firms. To reduce customer friction, we have spent time studying various processes such as new account opening, customer service/support and making product recommendations.
Many current workflows force customers to input data multiple times. Even worse, to get a new account in good order, some companies shuffle the account paperwork back and forth to get the required customer signatures, approvals and disclosures. We have reimagined a whole new account process with the end goal of delighting the customer. Later on, we will have more news on these services.
Q. How efficient is your security expertise, and how do you keep your service standards up and running?
We have partnerships with leading consultants and firms to set up our security systems. Also, security is a strength for some of our partners, and we can leverage their expertise to build out and maintain our efforts. As more companies move to cloud services, Microsoft, Google, IBM, and AWS offer some best practices and tools to help companies scale.
The Leader Upfront
Jean Jacques Borno, CEO
Jean has over 15 years of experience working in financial services. He is the founder and CEO of the fintech startup 1787fp. Jean has earned a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNING certification, and he has completed Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CIMA) designations (administered by the Wharton School and IMCA). In 2017, Jean was named a Rising Entrepreneur of the Year by Technology Today Magazine. In January 2021, Jean was named a Startup Leadership Program (SLP) fellow. SLP is a highly selective, global, world-class training program and lifelong global network for outstanding founders, leaders, and innovators who want to become startup CEOs.