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Seeing a way through the smoke and mirrors

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Michelle Pearce-Burke, CIO and co-founder of Wealthify, has seen her business grow with support from Guernsey-based 1818 Venture Capital

THE world of investments can be a murky one. Riddled with jargon, numbers that don’t make sense and way too many graphs. And don’t get me started on those sneaky fees…

I’m a part of this world and have been since 2011 when I gave up my study of medicine and came home to the lovely Bailiwick to cut my teeth as a stockbroker. Training with a local firm, I spent around four years learning the tricks of the trade before promptly packing it in.

Seeing the industry through fresh eyes gave me a unique perspective. It’s a place stuck in the past.

Smoke and mirrors fuel an illusion of something far more complex than it is, or needs to be. So, I decided to do something about it.

Teaming up with Richard Avery-Wright (founder of 1818 Venture Capital) and serial entrepreneur Richard Theo, I founded Wealthify in 2015. Wealthify (www.wealthify.com) is an online investment service that makes investing simple and accessible to everyone. Customers entrust us with their money and we make all the hard investment decisions to try and optimise returns. We cut out the complexity and expense of investing through our elegant website and app, which has delivered great returns to our UK and Channel Island customer base – now over 20,000 strong and growing fast.

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Building Wealthify has consumed my life. I moved to Cardiff to start the business and it was a real struggle for the first couple of years trying to have any semblance of work/life balance. My mother would tell you this was a bad thing, and I certainly wasn’t leading your traditional healthy lifestyle, but I did love those early years. The excitement of being able to build something from scratch, think outside the box and problem solve quickly, multiple times a day was extremely rewarding and continues to be.

The most challenging part of the journey for me has been fundraising. Our business model requires patient capital, and finding this was an enormously time‐consuming, tedious process.

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As an entrepreneur, you want to be focused on building your business and having to give up valuable time prowling round looking for money is highly distracting and at times, demoralising. Happily, for us, our efforts did pay off when last year we secured significant investment from Aviva, which involved their taking a majority stake in the business and launching a strategic partnership with us.

With the help of Aviva’s investment, we’ve grown significantly as a company, from a team of just two full‐time employees in 2015 to about 40 today – and we’re still hiring. It’s been amazing to be part of, to learn and grow with the company and I’m extremely proud when I reflect on what we’ve built and seeing the wonderful feedback from our customers.

My advice for anyone looking to start a similar journey would quite simply be ‘just do it’. Have confidence in yourself and remember, there really is no time like the present.

Will Green

By Will Green
Business Editor

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