“We’re here to provide simple personal finance questions that people already have in their head. Like am I on the right track? It’s really about answering simple questions that go unanswered today and getting millennials to feel great about their finances. We’re here to do that for 600 million millennials in Asia.”
Ankit Suri is the CEO of Co-Founder of Planto, an up-and-coming personal finance app that was launched just last year in October 2018.
The team is out to shed light on an acute blindspot for many of today’s millennials – a blindspot Ankit and his two co-founders had experienced personally before Planto existed.
Personal finance can be a difficult landscape to navigate
“I always say to people that our journey for Planto started right after I graduated actually. When I was in university, I didn’t have a great experience with banks. For example, I paid my credit card late and I had no idea that the minimum payment amount is not the same as paying the full amount,” said Ankit. “These are just basic things that nobody told me. And I made all of these small mistakes.”
Ankit found himself a job at a retail bank after he’d finished school, with a goal of understanding the complicated finance and banking industry better. But what he found was actually that his own pain-points were echoed by many other millennials, along with a multitude of other confusions people faced when it came to their finances.
A year after he left the bank, with two of his former colleagues, Ankit knew they needed to use their own knowledge of the financial space coupled with their understanding of what millennials were missing from it – and improve the entire experience.
“We’re all about helping you figure out how your finances are, giving you the right kind of advice that can help you achieve your goals or tell you something you may not have realized about your finances.”
Planto: The data-driven digital financial advisor for millennials
Planto is a personal finance app that helps millennials gain more insights into their financial well-being. It can link to your bank accounts, credit cards, and investments to show you how you’re spending money, how you can save, and how you’re performing against your saving goals.
What makes it different from just another expense tracking app is that Planto will also give you recommendations and pull out insights you might have missed otherwise. For example, it’ll alert you when your credit card statements are due, and can also use artificial intelligence to show you the auto-renewing subscription fees you may not be aware you’re paying for (think credit card annual fees or late fees, Fortress monthly installments, or Netflix subscriptions).
Going forward, the team is implementing some more sophisticated recommendations that’ll come out of patterns from each specific user’s financial information.
“Maybe you should think about buying a home because you can buy a home in three years,” said Ankit, as an example of what a more personalized recommendation might look like. “Perhaps Planto can help you pick a better credit card for your spending habits, or alert you that you need to take action for your retirement because you’re not saving enough.”
When deciding how to design their product roadmap, it’s all about listening to the customers.
“One of the main ways we get product feedback is through our customer support channel,” said Ankit. At Planto, it’s the product team that’s responsible for the live chat – and through this, the product managers are in constant direct dialogue with our users. “We also take our users out for coffee – we try to average about once a week.”
Working millennials make up the bulk of Planto’s user base. According to Ankit, these are people who have more of a financial motivation for their future. They want to do something about their money, so that they can figure out how they can buy their home or how they can get married.
“We want to show you how you can buy a home, and design the right kind of financial advisor to help you do that.”
Neat’s simple solution for expenses helps Planto streamline operations
As Planto started to grow, they needed to start thinking about how they’d pay for online payments, subscriptions, and other company expenses.
“At this point, we were using our own credit cards to pay for things. But of course, that meant that by the end of the month, all our accounting and expense reports needed to be done carefully, which was a bigger hassle than we wanted.”
When they approached the banks about credit cards, however, the perception Ankit got was that the decision and approval process was vague and opaque. And because the team didn’t want to go through a lengthy application process without any idea if they’d be approved or not, they looked around for other solutions – which is how they found Neat.
“It was really simple to apply and quick to get the cards. Neat in that sense really helped us get started, so we didn’t have to concern ourselves with the petty things like whose card am I going to use to pay this time. And with Neat I know that the transactions are recorded in the app, so I don’t have to collect receipts either.”
Ankit explained that Neat helped the Planto team streamline operations at a key point in their growth. “I always say that an entrepreneur’s role is to build a company, and you know you don’t want to be doing all the admin work. So when we find solutions that actually do that work for us, it allows us to refocus on what matters. And that’s really what Neat is helping us do.”
The strength of being a millennial in finance
“The reason Planto wants to go after millennials is because that’s who we are,” said Ankit.
Being millennials building a solution for other millennials, Ankit asserts, gives their team an advantageous perspective by being both the product and the user.
“It’s incredibly meaningful to realize that as a young founder you have a lot of strengths. You may not have all the money in the world, and may not have all the experience, but you can learn incredibly quickly and you understand the millennial segment really well.”
When you understand your audience, you can build a truly valuable product. Within just 4.5 months of launching Planto has reached over 50,000 users in Hong Kong.
“Finance is made to feel complicated – we try to make it as accessible as we can. It’s part of our mission to give people simple and actionable advice.”
If you liked their story, you can give Planto a try here, and keep up with them on social media!