Yesterday saw the launch in Japan of FIGS (which stands for Financial Innovation Gateways), an application that aims to simplify the process of investing for individuals by providing easy-to-understand recommendations by analysts.
The sector is growing in Japan, a market where the level of personal investment is unusually low. In February, Dentsu invested in Folio, a service with similar aims of simplification that enables people to invest in set ‘themes’ comprised of related companies selected by analysts.
FIGS makes money by charging a monthly subscription rate of 1,950 yen. In an interview following the launch, Eugene Ong, CEO, said the company will also target users in China and the US. The Singaporean said FIGS decided to start in Japan because as a highly developed financial market it has a big gap in terms of the accessibility of global investment information for everyday people.
As a brand, Ong said FIGS is positioned as “simple and easy-to-use”, something that adds value, and that is global. It is aimed primarily at people in their 30s who feel the need to invest—something that previous generations have not felt so strongly.
Ong said the target audience like to conduct their own research and make their own decisions as to what to invest in. At the same time, he said the average person faces numerous “roadblocks”. These include not knowing where to start, struggling to filter what is written online, and lacking time.
FIGS aims to address these “pain points” by presenting investment advice on seven markets from 2,300 analysts around the world. A key selling point is a scoring system that rates each analyst’s accuracy based on historical data.
“Basically what we want to do is democratise investments,” he said. “We want to break down the walls for the younger generation who feel that investment is difficult.”
Asked how he plans to generate awareness of the brand, he said FIGS plans to do “some kind of digital media exposure”. Initially though, it will aim to secure users through a partnership with SBI Securities to reach out to people who have shown interest in investing.
Editor's note: While activity in the investment services sector is increasing in Japan, overt marketing and branding efforts remain limited, which seems to miss the point that the average person struggles to relate to investing on any level. Earlier this year, Folio’s founder, Shinichiro Kai, said he aimed to make the service relatable through live events tailored to specific sector interests. That makes sense as a way to retain people who are already using the service, but communications that humanise the concept of investing seems like the most important place to start.