Christian Schneider-Sickert (Founder, CEO) and Christian Neuhaus (Managing Director) © Anne Schönharting
What inspired you to found your startup?
Starting LIQID was based on my own – decidedly mixed – experience with wealth management in its traditional form. There just had to be a better way to help people manage their money in the 21st century – without the plush offices, in-person meetings, reams of paper and conflicts of interests that still characterise so much of the industry. Today, LIQID shows that there is.
How do you define success for yourself and your company?
Day to day, success can mean different things to different people at Liqid, which I believe is a great thing. While a UX designer gets excited about finding a more intuitive way to help a customer get from A to B, a digital marketer loves finding that new channel that improves his acquisition cost. At the same time, the one thing that drives us all is positive customer feedback. Because everything we do ultimately comes together in how a customer experiences our product and service.
Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it again?
Of course, so many things. But I believe it is important not to dwell on them but rather to avoid making the same mistake again and to move on.
What problem does your product solve?
Affluent investors have traditionally found it very hard to get access to the same quality of investment advice and opportunities as the very rich. They have tended to pay more and get less, while receiving advice that was only as good as the person they were lumbered with by their bank. We are using technology not just to create a consistent, personalised and high-quality customer experience, but also to provide access to terms and opportunities not previously available to our clients.
Where do you see your company in 1/5/10 years?
In the course of next year, we will continue to grow in Germany and start expanding to other parts of Europe. In the medium-term, we aim to help our customers with various other aspects of their financial lives beyond wealth management.
How are you different?
Rather than setting out on our own, we made a decision to team up with HQ Trust, one of the oldest multi-family offices in Germany and part of a privately-held financial services group with €25 billion under management. This provides us with access to an investment team that has decades of experience in managing some of the largest private fortunes in Europe. In combination with our technology and outstanding customer experience, this clearly sets us apart from others in our space.
How often does your product/service show up in a user’s day or week?
Clearly, their finances are important to all of our customers. At the same time, the frequency of their interaction with our platform varies a lot. Some like to check in on a daily basis, while others only do so once a month. Our approach is to be there whenever they need us – and to provide them with the information they need both through our digital reporting and through personal interaction with our client advisers. That way, they can choose how and how often they want us in their lives.
Impact: how are you doing good and building a better future?
While Germans are great at saving, they are – sadly – among the worst investors in Europe. This has already had a huge impact on average household wealth, which is lower than in many other EU countries. Looking ahead, more and more people will realise that they don’t have enough money to retire on and to sustain the lifestyles they are used to. If we can play a part in helping people make better, long-term investment decisions, it would have a big impact on peoples’ lives.
How has the startup scene in Berlin changed?
Even just over the past three years, Berlin has become noticeably more international and internationally connected. This is something we notice both in recruiting discussions – where Berlin is an increasingly easy sell – and in investor interest.
What are the pros and cons of launching your startup from Berlin?
Compared to London, which I know well from previous start-ups, a huge pro is clearly the cost base – both for companies and individuals. Your money clearly goes much further than it does in the UK or the US. For a finance start-up, not being in a traditional financial centre obviously has its downsides, but then Frankfurt and London are only just over an hour away. At least while Tegel is still open…
Liqid was featured in “The Hundert Vol. 10 – Startups of Berlin“, October 2017.