David Armstrong, Tram Anh Nguyen, Huy Nguyen Trieu and Ka-ming Lim (from left to right)
*This interview has been edited to fit.
Last month at CFTE’s five year anniversary in Singapore, we had a great chance to interview our alumni David Armstrong, the COO at MoneyFitt and Ka-ming Lim, the CEO at MoneyFitt. David and Ka-ming have professional backgrounds in financial sectors for several years in large organisations worldwide. They decided to start their own business to co-found MoneyFitt. In the Alumni story, they will share with us what is the story behind founding MoneyFitt, an innovative platform to enhance financial literacy in society.
CFTE: You are both CFTE Alumni. How did you hear about CFTE and what programme did you take?
D: I was moving to Singapore and wanted to pivot into Fintech. Huy, who is the Co-founder at CFTE, was one of the professors for the Fintech course I took through the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. I connected with him on LinkedIn and heard about CFTE through his LinkedIn profile. I took part in the Extrapreneurship course with Revolut, the excellent AI in Finance course, as well as attended various events in Singapore and London.
K: I heard about CFTE’s AI in Finance course from somebody at Ngee Ann Poly at the Singapore Fintech Festival (and we’ve been taking in stellar interns from Ngee Ann Poly ever since!)
David and Ka-ming’s Career in Finance
CFTE: What are your backgrounds? And what are your current job title and missions?
D: I have a background in finance, corporate restructuring, and consultancy work. I am the COO but also manage the company finances day to day.
K: My background is in investing, both on the sell-side as well as buy-side, in London, Singapore and New York with firms such as Schroders, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse First Boston and JP Morgan. I got my MBA from Columbia while working in New York, and was a partner in a hedge fund in Singapore during the Lehman Crisis. I am the CEO and my mission is to help everyone, young and old, to have better lives by making better financial decisions.
The journey becoming entrepreneurs
Building a successful and thriving business is not easy. It requires a wide range of skills in terms of collaboration, business development, networking, resilient and growth mindsets and experience in the industry. David and Ka-ming both have several years of experience in traditional finance in leading firms. They mentioned making the transition from employees to entrepreneurs is challenging but rewarding. Herein, David and Ka-ming shared the turning point for them to shift their career path to be entrepreneurs in Fintech.
In addition, they will take us to know more about their company—MoneyFitt and their aim to enhance financial literacy to help more people become financially independent and self-sufficient globally.
CFTE: You both co-founded MoneyFitt. When did you get the Eureka moment and what were the reasons behind founding the company?
D & K: It is always great to think of there being a single, leap-out-of-the-bathtub Eureka moment, but in reality, we had been working on numerous approaches over the years to improve financial wellbeing and financial literacy in general. Prudential Singapore’s consumer-focused problem statement in the Pru Fintegrate competition (run by CFTE alum and general dynamo Magdalene Loh) directed our previous B2B focus towards something more user-facing, but with a unique and robust business model that could solve a specific pain point. In this case, it was to provide warm leads to financial advisors and other service providers.
CFTE: Can you tell us more about MoneyFitt’s mission? How important is financial literacy today, and what problem are you solving in the industry?
D: Financial literacy is a huge issue and is a crucial component of everyone’s overall wellness, including mental and financial health. Unfortunately, it is often not taught well in schools. Recent shocks around Covid and now inflation have shown it is even more important than ever to have a basic level of knowledge that you can act upon to build a financial safety net, ensure you have the right level of insurance coverage, and have a savings and investing plan.
K: Financial literacy is important, but taking action based on it is key! Our brand new app, which is currently optimised for Singapore, helps users with not just WHAT to do but also WHICH to do first and WHY. Prioritising what actions to take first is crucial as we can all get inundated with (even good) advice and end up paralysed, doing none of them! You can download the app here.
CFTE: Networking is one of the requirements to expand one’s business. After two years of Covid, does the power of networking still exist?
D: Definitely! There was lots of revenge networking at the recent Singapore Fintech Festival, for example. I think in-person networking at these major events will always be very popular. I met Ka at a CFTE event so MoneyFitt in its current form would not exist without that networking opportunity.
K: I would say it is even more important now, after such a long period of enforced social distancing. Not too surprisingly, people now seem more comfortable taking follow-up meetings virtually than before, but that initial in-person meeting is key.
CFTE: The current economic landscape in financial services is very uncertain and always evolving. Do you think professionals should continuously learn to improve their financial literacy and acquire new skills? How?
D: Everyone needs a basic level of understanding. Even highly-skilled professionals in law or medicine may not have good financial knowledge. Many people outsource their finances and pay high commissions or have advisers that are not fit for purpose.
K: Professionals are often ignored when discussing financial literacy. It’s not that only non-professionals were let down by the education system in terms of learning the basics of personal finance, we all were! Improving financial literacy and investment literacy is a journey we can all benefit from, and which are skills that as a society we should all try to promote. How? By downloading our app and subscribing to our newsletter!
CFTE: To conclude this interview, what is the best advice you would give to someone who wants to start his/her fintech business or develop a career in Fintech?
D: Look to get involved and network with people who are already in the ecosystem. The CFTE community is actually very supportive and friendly as a starting point, and their THINK platform has a huge amount of high-quality content.
K: Go forth and network… and seek mentorship and guidance from all quarters. Have your North Star but don’t be afraid to pivot.
CFTE: Any other thoughts on your journey?
D&K: Support from the CFTE community has been very helpful. How you build the team around you, particularly if you have a Co-founder, is the most important decision you can make!
Continuous learning in this uncertain era
The current economic landscape in financial services is very uncertain and always evolving. Professionals should continuously learn to improve their financial literacy and acquire new skills. David mentioned that everyone needs a basic level of understanding of finance.
Even highly-skilled professionals in law or medicine may not have good financial knowledge. Many people outsource their finances and pay high commissions or have advisers that are not fit for purpose. In addition, Ka-ming said professionals are often ignored when discussing financial literacy as the current education system lacks teaching people the basics of personal finance management.
“Improving financial literacy and investment literacy is a journey we can all benefit from, and which are skills that as a society we should all try to promote,” noted David and Ka-ming.
Make sure to check the MoneyFitt website to learn more about managing your money and knowledge of financial literacy!
At CFTE, we believe in the importance of continuous learning, in order to prepare the capability and right knowledge in the workforce, or more broadly the whole community. In a digital-transforming world, we bet on people, and we are keen to share stories from our alumni like David and Ka-ming’s.