No one said finance was a fair game. Flash traders gain wealth through an advantage of milliseconds. Wall Street insiders act on tips others never hear of. And we haven’t even talked about selective bailouts of poor performance.
Thanks to fintech the environment is shifting. Ordinary investors are beginning to get access to better deals. Information is easily sent, numbers crunched, and trends identified.
Quick access to the right information in a sensible format is crucial, and until now regular investors have been at a distinct disadvantage. But Vivek Nasta is changing that.
Mr. Nasta is the CEO of Scout Finance, a new iOS mobile app for retail and professional investors that brings Bloomberg terminal-level stock market data and research to mobile devices. It recently left soft launch with 10,000 live users and claimed the Benzinga Fintech Award for Mobile Innovation, Best in Class.
“Big banks don’t care about little investors,” Mr. Nasta began. “Frankly, they don’t even care about providing an easy to use interface for their employees so they go to canned offerings from Thomson Reuters or Bloomberg.”
That strategy worked great pre-2008, when many institutions paid less attention to the $20,000-$25,000 they paid each year for one Bloomberg terminal.
“Spending without qualification is no longer a business model,” Mr. Nasta said.
“The tech boom caught banks and other institutions by surprise and they were overwhelmed to the point they were paralyzed dealing with a world being disrupted in terms of compliance.”
Cloud technology. The growing capability of mobile accelerating the decline of RIM technology. It’s not only the pace of change but the amount of it.
Banks have also been focused on compliance for the last few years, Mr. Nasta said. Leaps into new products and delivery systems came with too many unknowns at the absolute wrong time.
“The technology jumped another level and they were left like deer in headlights,” Mr. Nasta said. “They were frozen at the thought of having to become compliant on another device.”
As the compliance environment is beginning to settle down, traditional institutions are realizing they are being led by fintech, not the other way around, Mr. Nasta said. That has banks funding business models that hurt their own as they seek to adapt.
“That’s good news. It’s opening doors for companies like Scout.”
Scout Finance developers packed a lot of functionality into the app. Expanded content includes access to five-year historical financial data, investor presentations, earnings call transcripts, filings, earnings releases and earnings call audio. Documents can be auto cached for offline reading and stored on a Dropbox account. Users can create personalized watch lists and select which data they receive via email or notification.
“Real-time reports level the playing field,” Mr. Nasta said.
Access to data is important, but so is functionality, Mr. Nasta added. Scout Finance’s interface is built for mobile access and not simply as a medium for reading data. Some competing products do little more and that leaves the user with an inconsistent experience. The Scout Finance experience includes mobile-optimized stock charts which are easy to view and manipulate on any mobile device.
All for $9.99 per month.
“Do we really need the old premium way of doing things?” Mr. Nasta asked. “We’re finding no.”
The first principle in Scout’s development was a focus on the mobile experience, Mr. Nasta said. And that came with challenges. Scout had to create a unique mobile phone interface that provided a similar value on the road or in a meeting to what a professional has in their office across multiple screens.
“We had to create the ultimate information architecture so you could get what you want from a report with one gesture,” Mr. Nasta explained.
Developers also had to create accelerated architecture for creating back-end data that was already parsed so the data is there when the user logs on. That allows app users to create a list of companies they want to follow and get automatically updated data on.
Scout Finance represents a shift from the traditional approach to financial tools, Mr. Nasta explained.
“The assumption was the more in real-time the better, but we turn that on its head. Ninety percent don’t need the millisecond retrieval of platinum data – they need data that’s good enough for the average investor.”
The uniqueness of Scout Finance has produced 10,000 users mostly by word of mouth, Mr. Nasta said. Users can easily recommend the app to their friends.
Scout Finance is far from a finished product, Mr. Nasta said. Developers keep looking for ways to incorporate the oceans of available data in user-friendly ways.
“We are trying to bring to finance what most other industries have adopted – a level playing field for the average guy who invests but doesn’t have the money to buy terminals.”