Finnomena touts smart retirement investment

Economy July 30, 2016 01:00

By NOPHAKHUN LIMSAMARNPHUN
THE N

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FINNOMENA, a Thai financial-technology start-up, has a mission: Unlock your investment potential. Chief executive officer Pongthorn Thawonthanakul said the rapidly growing enterprise was set up by a group of eight gurus in finance and investing who hoped



Today, Finnomena’s Nter investment advisory service, which is free of charge, has more than 1,000 registered members, whose combined investment funds top Bt1.3 billion.
The start-up targets a new generation of savers from college students to retirees, but most members are currently aged 25 to 45.
Its investment advice is said to be independent of any brokerage houses’ recommendations, but Finnomena takes a cut in commission fees when there are transactions so clients do not have to pay extra.
Besides Nter, the start-up’s founders, who have long been well-known gurus on social media and other platforms, want to elevate Finnomena to a new height, so you are also invited to share your own investment insights on Space, a newly added feature.
According to Pongthorn, the average monthly income of members is about Bt50,000 and their average age is around 33, so they still have many years to save and manage their savings to achieve financial goals upon their retirement when they are 55-60 or even younger.
Investment choices are abundant. Members can join their preferred Facebook groups, invest in mutual funds, buy their own stocks and so on.
In fact, financial and investment education is still very important, given that most Thais are just familiar with bank savings accounts, whose number remains very high, totalling 30 million accounts worth trillions of baht.
So there is a huge market to unlock the investment potential of these savers using social-media, mobile and other platforms, especially as Thai interest rates are approaching zero for savings accounts.
Pongthorn’s advice: “You need to plan and manage bank deposits by moving funds to money-market funds, short-term government debts, which can earn 1-2 per cent return per annum, or corporate debentures, which earn around 3 per cent, or mixed mutual funds of government bonds and stocks for 4-5 per cent returns when stocks account for 30 per cent of the portfolio.
“It all depends on your risk-taking capacity. You could get higher returns from pure stock funds or you can invest in overseas stocks.
“Besides inflation, you need to plan ahead on your financial needs when retirement comes at age 55-60. Medical expenses will jump especially as you approach 70 because of Thai people’s longer life spans.
“A simple rule of thumb is that a moderate return of 6-7 per cent per annum on your savings will result in a twofold increase of funds over 10 years and a fourfold increase in 20 years on a compounded basis.
“Stick to your retirement goals. Don’t buy or sell assets impulsively during the course of your savings. The 2008 financial crisis is a case in point, as asset prices dropped 40 per cent, which scared some savers, but then they recovered.
“To take advantage of the sharing economy, we also have introduced Space by Finnomena as a new concept in which members will be coached to plan and invest their savings as well as share their opinions and insights on the social media platform.”
On Finnomena’s business model, Pongthorn said: “We basically provide independent financial services to the mass market to tap trillions of baht in savings accounts that should be converted into funds for listed companies to expand their productive capacities and businesses to boost economic growth.
“We work with banks and brokerage houses to tap this huge market by providing knowledge free of charge. Our earnings come from commission fees from brokerage houses, not the clients, as we have access to multiple brokers to facilitate our independent financial service.
“In terms of mutual funds, we have chosen the country’s seven best funds out of around 1,500 funds available. On average, returns range from 6-12 per cent per annum depending on the risk-reward ratio.”