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Creating a social connection to personal finance

Frustrated with the world of finance that refused to put customers first and in control of their own money, Dean Anderson turned to digital innovation and created a personal finance platform, Kernel.

Born out of annoyance with the personal finance industry, Founder and Chief Executive of Kernel, Dean Anderson, has taken learnings from him years working at the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZX) and his time in the financial services industry, and created Kernel.

The platform offers a multitude of tools to aid individuals in their personal finance journey, such as investment fund offerings, online savings accounts, KiwiSaver and more.

A specialist in index funds and fund management, Anderson decided to leave NZX in search of something new. Not knowing what that something new was at the time, he continued in the financial world as a freelance, consulting to the financial services sector. It was during this time he became disillusioned by the sectors approach to personal finance.

“Conversations I had over the years never asked ‘what this means for the customer’, but rather it was always about profits and ‘how we’re going to sell it’,” he says.

Financial literacy in New Zealand is a major problem Anderson says, with many individuals unsure of how the world of money works. This, he adds is holding them back from making important financial decisions.

It was at this point he sought to develop a solution to help people address these issues, and Kernel was born.

Read more: Solving the financial literacy problem with Banqer.

“My intention was to start from the ground up and build an empowering financial offering that would deliver better outcomes for customers, as well as the experience they have with financial services and how they use them.

“We’re a fully digital investment fund manager, so we run a bunch of funds and financial products, but we are also increasingly settled on our personal finance platform,” says Anderson.

Anderson says that Kernel’s offering covers the three main buckets that everybody has to think about when it comes to personal financial wellbeing: savings, investment, and retirement.

Unlike the big institutions and industry competitors, Kernel aims to be different by putting the customer first, placing their money goals and intended outcomes at the forefront.

Kernel, he says does this, by making the platform accessible, and allowing their customers the choice to pick and choose what they do with their money in a way that aligns with their values.

“The big piece that we are doing more work around, and that I’m really passionate about, is how we help people understand money, especially around these three main buckets,” he says.

“I want to ensure we empower our customers and help them reach their goals with guidance on how they track towards these goals, enabling them to marry their finances with individual lifestyle needs,” he says.

When it comes to the design of the digital platform, Anderson and the team at Kernel prioritised tools that could seamlessly fit in with people’s lifestyles and allow them to build a relationship with money, something he says is missing today.

He says that when it comes to personal finance in the 21st century, people no longer have a relationship with someone that can help them connect with their money, and that has become critical in the Kernel business model.

Anderson says that because their platform is accessible, people, and notably their customers are, “more engaged” with money, having more conversations about topics on investing and saving. 

He adds that for people to move the narrative about finance goals is “far more productive” to the money journey. Because of this, Anderson says banks are losing to the digital players in the market like Kernel.

He says that Kernel is “definitely at that tipping point of the start-up to growth” space, and a more established player in the market. The question now of how to take Kernel further is looming over Anderson’s head. 

He’s aiming for Kernel to be the best personal finance platform that is “intuitive.”

“A really seamless experience that aligns with everybody’s ability to create their own journey.”

“We’ve now got a lot that we want to do in New Zealand and ways in which to empower people with our platform to make better decisions,” he says. Anderson has big aspirations for Kernel later down the line, hoping to tap into areas in the world where he thinks the platform can really make a change in the world of money.

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles. To get in touch with her, email [email protected]

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