Money sits at the center of the quality of life you have, so when is the right time to start investing? Nadine Mezher, co-Founder & CMO of Sarwa, discusses how she built a business that tackles the taboos around investing.
Most people today, despite all facilities, hold back from investing and keeping a broad portfolio. Why? The process is too complex. Among myriad options, understanding the monetary bits seems scary.
“Investing does not have to be complicated,” says Nadine Mezher, co-founder of the roboadvisory Sarwa, which enables people to squirrel away money as effortlessly as possible.
Founded in 2017, Sarwa has been through two funding rounds and facilitates people to invest in international markets through two core offerings—Sarwa Trade and Sarwa Invest.
Over the years, Sarwa has leveraged its digital infrastructure to break down investing for its customer base. It created a no-fuss, easy-to-understand platform that encouraged a community of investors to grow their funds. “Today, everyone looks for practicality and convenience.”
“We use technology to make the process faster, more intuitive and efficient. This lowers cost, which reflects positively on our clients’ net returns.”
Between a deeply tech-oriented infrastructure and a constant need for addressing questions, it becomes essential for customers to have access to a human-to-human conversational option. The human touch is what the company offers.
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EMPOWERING SMARTER CHOICES
While making investing accessible to more people is challenging, Sarwa wants to grow the numbers. For most businesses, Mezher says, Covid-19 was an obstacle in the path of operations; but that’s not how Sarwa viewed it. People assumed that the pandemic-induced lockdown would be a source of struggle for tech-based firms, hindering their reaching out capabilities. Time revealed, however, that tech was the only industry “built to be remote from the get-go”.
“We were there for our clients by being able to service them better while providing educational and empowering tools across the platform. That’s one of the reasons why we saw a big surge in customers,” Mezher adds.
HEARING THE CUSTOMERS OUT
Client assets managed by roboadvisors tipped nearly $1 trillion in 2020 and are expected to reach $2.9 trillion worldwide by 2025. However, Sarwa differentiates itself from traditional wealth managers that rely on more legacy technology. “We are building a one-stop-shop for everything money management,” shares Mezher.
“The market segment looking for something convenient, intuitive, and easy to use wants to continue doing what they’ve been doing before. Where traditional wealth advisors fail is addressing this very segment,” she adds.
“If you want to grow, we highlight the need to invest rather than keeping a savings account.”
There are hundreds of facilities in the market to help you manage your finances, but if a company wants to grow as a money management platform, Mezher says, “It is essential to go beyond the customers’ expectations.” With customers having their needs met, business grows fast. This is how Sarwa wants to democratize investing, starting with the UAE and later branching out to the rest of the Middle East.
THE ART AND SCIENCE OF INVESTING
Like most businesses, Sarwa started with a small group of family members and acquaintances in a beta test. It has since grown from a small community of investors through focused strategies, brand awareness, market reach, and the ability to centralize different investments a client looks for in one app, from hands-off long-term investing to self-directed trading.
But Mezher is quick to mention two essential ingredients often missed in any conversation involving investing—art and science.
“I do think that to grow and market your business; you need both. You have to have a very data-driven and analytical approach. But at the same time, creativity sits at the core of what we do because a brand is about telling a story, and the community around it connects.”
“Positioning through storytelling” is the brand value, even in running a roboadvisory, Mezher highlights.
A factor guiding many of their business decisions is how to offer something not already out there.
“So you always strive to be unique. You’re always competing against yourself and pushing your limits, just showcasing something from and for the community.”
At its core, Sarwa serves a basic need. Investing at a younger age. Its biggest client segment is young professionals aged 25 to 45.
The earlier you start investing, the more time money has to grow, says Mezher. No wonder she has already started teaching her three kids to budget, save, and think about spending, buying, and growing money. “It is an integral part of our life; money sits at the center of the quality of life that we have, so it’s vital to learn how to use it early on in your life,” she says.
EXPLORING CRYPTO INVESTMENTS
Bitcoin and crypto are terms that have the world’s attention. Many retail investors look to diversify by including cryptocurrencies in their portfolios. A study says 33% of UAE residents claim to have invested and plan to allocate 25% of their assets into cryptocurrency.
Sarwa’s recent offering comes in response to its community’s needs and market insights. “The best way to build wealth long-term is to think, diversify, zoom out and have a futuristic view.” Mezher shares how Sarwa has launched long-term diversified crypto portfolios with exposure to bitcoin.
Overall, Sarwa’s portfolio has a 5% exposure to bitcoin. “Besides the fact that cryptocurrency is backed by commendable technology, why we cater to it includes our commitment to listening to our market—giving our clients what they want.”
One characteristic that makes Sarwa a bankable solution is that they don’t use jargon. “We don’t use terms that are super complicated. Investing does not need to be complicated—anybody can do it. Ultimately, what’s important is to consider the four rules: starting as early as you can, diversify, don’t let your emotions get a hold of you and disrupt a sound plan.”
Will Sarwa enter the metaverse? “Nothing’s off the table”, says Mezher.