Financial Education

Rules...? What Rules? Nothing is off limits...

Published on April 19th, 2016

AlphaCode gold member and founder of Stock Shop, Annabel Dallamore isn’t one for accepting limits. With a passion for stock markets and financial inclusion, Dallamore has set out to open the world of equity investing to all South Africans. After working at the JSE as an equity derivatives specialist, Dallamore launched Stock Shop in late 2013 with a view to building a bridge between financial services providers and the markets they have failed to reach until now.

For many, the stock market is a distance universe - where people speak in a different language and move in secret circles. The idea of investing is a daunting one, and seems far out of reach at a time when most households face that painful month-end crunch. This is precisely what Annabel Dallamore is looking to change with her fintech startup, Stock Shop. Having assembled a young and dynamic team of fintech specialists, Dallamore is on a mission to make financial services accessible - and fun - for South Africans. With a background in engineering, banking and entrepreneurship, she is well placed to leverage the benefits of new tech and disruptive thinking.

“I have always been passionate about the stock market,” she explains. “At a young age, my father and I established my own [investment] portfolio together. I was lucky enough to have an incredible guide, and struggled with the fact that most people would never get this type of experience. In South Africa specifically, we have a large portion of our population who are unbanked, underbanked and essentially financially excluded. We can now use tech to provide these people with access to the services that are specific to their needs.”

After working at the JSE as an equity derivatives specialist, Dallamore created Stock Shop. It launched in late 2013, and looks to create a bridge between financial services providers and people who have never before had access to the financial sphere.

“I realised how fractured the industry was during my time at the JSE,” says Dallamore. “People were looking for help but didn’t know who to trust, who to talk to, where to get access to the right tools - or even which products and services were available. I also realised that most of the products being sold were not fit for the markets they were being sold to…”

As a result, she believes that the financial services space - in its current form - is not one that many people trust. This is made worse by a lack of transparency around the various products, services and fees.

“There is a lot of jargon that gets used which tends to exclude a large portion of our society, as they find the space intimidating and are quite fearful of what they don’t understand,” adds Dallamore. “The difference now, however, is that people are becoming a lot more vocal about their need for education around their finances. Also, service providers now have to work a lot harder to keep clients as the use of easy DIY platforms and tech becomes more prevalent.”

‘We get to create our own vision’

Indeed, disruption is already biting at the heels of established players, as small and agile fintech businesses and innovative service providers gain traction.

“Fintech startups are playing a big role in shifting perceptions around the space,” she says. “Previously, the market was owned by a handful of large institutions. Now you find young companies with a few employees disrupting entire business models by creating meaningful and scalable solutions that speak to specific target markets. It is also vital that we look at the role fintech can play in educating the youth - this is a largely neglected area that we are focusing on.”

According to Dallamore, the large and established banks and other financial institutions are not as resistant to change and disruption as one might expect, although the pace of change does present a formidable challenge for them.

“My experience is that banks are generally open to having the discussion about fintech trends and the rapid changes affecting the market,” she explains. “I think where they struggle is adjusting their business models to become agile enough to launch, test and iterate or pivot their solutions quickly and cost effectively.”

She adds that the only way to keep up is to embrace the momentum in the market, and be honest about what is or isn’t working.

“We are seeing some service providers wanting to do a little bit of everything, which from a time and resource perspective just doesn’t make sense,” she cautions. “Focus is key to keeping ahead in this market, even though it may be frustrating at times. But as fintech providers, we get to create our own vision of the ecosystem going forward - the rules are changing every day and nothing is off limits (or too crazy)!”