Harmonics Financial works with organisations to provide independent financial planning to employees. They have recently launched My-Money, an online financial education portal for employees.
What distinguishes your business from competitors? We deliver bespoke financial advice and we are not beholden to any insurance companies, banks or product providers. Any advice or recommendations we give are always selected because they are the most suitable and offer the best value for our clients.
The key thing for us is that we engage clients when we believe the value of our services will bring more money into their pockets than they or their employers pay us in fees.
What sets your products apart in your sector? My-Money is unique in that it allows people access to expert, trusted advice.We have carried out extensive research and, on average, at least a third of people are spending 37 minutes a day preoccupied at work due to financial issues.
We take those issues away from them so they can be much more engaged, more innovative, more passionate, more committed and that has a massive impact.There’s a huge cost saving to the company and the employees feel better. There’s a win-win.
What's been the biggest challenge you have had to face? Getting companies to recognise that investing in their employees' financial education makes good business sense. Some organisations think 'well it's the employee's debt, it's their problem'. But it isn't. It's the employers' problem.
So it’s really getting companies to think about their corporate benefit plans and incorporate financial education.
And your major success to date? We have been selected by a number of leading companies in Ireland to provide financial advice to their senior executives and their general staff population. The feedback we've received from companies and staff members themselves has been incredibly positive. We know what we're doing is making an impact.
What's the biggest mistake you've made in business? Trying to do everything myself. That would have been my mistake at the start. It simply can't be done and it's not a smart way to run a business. Getting help and expertise is absolutely key.
What was the best piece of business advice you've ever received? To put myself in my customer's shoes. I read it somewhere but it's something that is key for us. Putting our customers at the centre of our world and having a relentless focus on them is our biggest motivation to succeed.
Who do you most admire in business and why? I really like a company in Ireland called Version 1 led by a guy called Justin Keatinge. Their whole success is based around creating a great place for their staff to work. They place employee engagement at the core of everything they do and I think that's why they've been incredibly successful. I'm a real admirer of the whole ethos in that company.
What piece of advice would you give to the Government to stimulate the economy? I think raising the income tax threshold is important. We really need to get people to start spending again and this has to be complemented by Government spending more as well on capital projects. I think also the whole debt forbearance is an issue that needs to be tackled a lot more. Again, it's just to create more money in the environment, to get people to have that little bit more and start spending that little bit more.
Do you think the banks are open for business at the moment? Yes they are. They are certainly more open than they were in the past couple of years. It's still very difficult to get approval for credit on a personal and on a business basis. They're understandably much more cautious to advance money without sufficient security or without applying more stringent stress testing. I get that, and in some cases it's warranted and in others it's not.
How do you see the short-term future for your business? We're going to continue to develop and extend our business and product offering to organisations in Ireland. We're innovators and we don't just want to stop making an impact just in Ireland. We want to internationalise My-Money and bring our product to a much larger market. Our goal is to make My-Money a worldwide recognised brand.
How much is your business worth and would you sell it? I don't know what it's worth; whatever someone would pay for it. I don't know if I'd sell it. We're having great fun breaking new ground. We're developing something there was obviously a need for and seeing it grow day by day is incredibly rewarding.
In conversation with Joanna Roberts