My good friend, Charles Perry, at Brown once gave me a very hard time for disappearing from a party only to emerge very much later back, asking in his signature British and South African accent, “Where Have You Been?”
It became a running joke between us, and it comes to mind now as I write a blog post for The FinTech Blog for the first time in quite a while. So, where have I been?
Well, the short answer has been helping to grow an amazing fintech company known best as MaxMyInterest, but which is really just a d/b/a for our company’s real name of Six Trees Capital LLC, which both operates the consumer website MaxMyInterest.com as well as providing a platform for independent financial advisors through its Max For Advisors program.
We do some other things, such as invest our company’s capital in innovative platforms we think will have an opportunity to make a big impact from our own domain expertise in the intersection of wealth management, banking, and the use of API’s to connect platforms and deliver banking-as-a-service.
I remember leaving Morgan Stanley after realizing that I’d stayed there a little too long with my best projects and colleagues having already jumped ship. Starting The FinTech Blog was a new challenge for me. In 2013-2013 the wave of interest in FinTech was definitely “pre-peak” and it was a great time to go to events like Money 20/20, Finovate, LendIt, and the Future of Finance.
I remember exploring joining a few startups such as LendingClub, SoFi, and Prosper, run by Aaron Vermut (who knew a former colleague of mine, Andy Bond, from our days at Scient when we worked on projects at CIBC).
Looking back, I’m relieved to not have joined any of those firms, who were doing, as I saw it, something that was superficially cool and interesting, but really wasn’t it when you dug deeper. I remember the Prosper offices with their ping pong tables, great views overlooking downtown San Francisco, and the feeling that this could be great.. A throw back to the days when I worked at Scient, when the world seemed so promising and new.
Now that many of these companies operate at the fringes of the world of finance and don’t seem to be doing anything of great impact, I’m glad to have been able to meet Gary Zimmerman, founder of our company.
If it’s helpful to any readers out there, my lesson would be: don’t get taken in by the cool offices, the branding, or any of that.
Gary impressed me because he has a laser focus on serving an unmet need and was operating in what I’d call “competitive white space.” It’s a little risker but generally offers higher rewards if you can differentiate yourself in the market.
What Happened in 2019 – 2020
So, where you been? you may ask. It’s great to look back to why you joined the team at MAX (as we call the company, for short, since our service is actually called Max and not MaxMyInterest) but what have I been up to?
Well, 2019-2020 was a huge growth period for us. First, on the heels of our rolling our features such as the ability to open and fund an online bank account is about a minute or two, we began to garner some great press.
The Wall Street Journal
One of the highlights from last year was the article by Jason Zweig in The Wall Street Journal: “Raising Your Own Rates When No One Else Will.”
Soon after that, our founder appear on CNBC’s Mad Money, talking about our company’s mission with Jim Cramer.
If you missed this one, you can watch the appearance on the show using this link:
While we’d been growing at a great clip, the combination of these two appearances really helped up break through.
We never advertised and still have only dabbled in that area, not convinced that it made sense for a company of our size to try to take that on when we could grow in other ways.
It was a really exciting time to be fielding so many calls at once.
2020: The Year of Integrations
While most will remember 2020 as the year of the great pandemic, for us at least until that caught up with us too, the year 2020 was our big year for integrations.
After working so hard and being patient, we went live with our integration with Orion, one of the leading reporting-and-more platforms for advisors.
The announcement was covered by the financial advisor press, with articles in ThinkAdvisor among others. (Here’s the link to the article)
We were glad to be working with FiComm, our PR firm that’s worked with so many leading fintech companies such as Riskalyze and Redtail that have a devoted following among advisors.
On the heels of that integration, we announced our integration (which has actually been live but operating more in stealth mode) with Morningstar, as announced by WealthManagement.com
Winning Best Cash Solution
While expanding our team, growing our business and burning the midnight oil all seem to come with the territory of building a startup, it’s nice to be recognized from time to time for all the work that the team does.
2019-2020 led to a number of patents awarded to Six Trees Capital LLC, which are a real testament to our founder, head of engineering, and legal team, but one of the the biggest thrills for me in 2020 was winning our first wealth management industry awards.
We were awarded ‘best cash solution’ by WealthManagement.com in its 2020 industry awards in September. (See announcement here).
It was great to be able to talk about this event using video (especially during this year when conferences all kept us closer to home!).
Where Have You Been?!
So to wrap up, that’s where I’ve been recently. Busy building MAX into the best service to help people earn more on their cash – which matters all the more in these times when the concept of an “emergency fund” matters more than ever!
Stay safe, wear a mask, and thanks for tuning in!
Follow me on Twitter @fintechbusdev