The review site for financial institutions and products

As the power of the crowd continues to grow, founder Mike Fotis tells us how he came with a business that is attempting to increase trust and transparency in the financial market.

From his background in financial services, Mike Fotis decided that there must be a better way for consumers to be educated on how to approach important issues such as insurance or mortgages.

His new online review system,, ranks financial services organisations and products including credit cards, bank loans and mortgages based on customer experience.

To encourage interaction with the service, users can obtain badges such as ‘innovator’ or ‘leader’ after providing support.

Having recently launched in Teeside using funding from TwentyThreeMiles, Fotis sat down with GrowthBusiness to explain the proposition and reveal the lessons he’s learnt so far.

(1) How did your background help with becoming an entrepreneur?

Having a consulting background allowed me to develop a real range of skills which is proving to be really important when running a start-up. It also taught me to be highly adaptable, open to listening to other ideas and being challenged. is partly the product of my experience working as a consultant in financial services. It means I can understand both sides of the equation – the general perception of financial services by consumers and the media, as well as the inside operations of big banks and insurance companies. 

Financial services are vitally important – few of us could manage without a current account – but many consumers find it difficult to see differentiation between banks, insurance companies or peer lenders. Equally these companies are keen for consumers to see differences between them and their competitors. Increasing trust and transparency in financial services can be a win-win for everybody. My experience as a consultant allows me to develop this win-win result.

(2) What did you think was wrong with this part of the finance sector, and how did that inspire a business?

I think the strongest voice should always be the voice of the customer. We want to enable the voice of the customer to help increase trust and transparency in financial services, nothing more and nothing less.

(3) What were the first steps in getting it going?

Getting the technical specification of the platform right was really important for us. We needed to build a functional platform that would allow us to deliver our mission, and one that would also be able to scale with us.

(4) What competitors is it going up against?

A recent Forrester survey found that only 20 per cent of buyers believe what a brand says about itself. Conversely, 70 per cent of consumers trust the recommendation of their friends and family. Our mission is to help the 70 per cent by using the power of customer experiences to increase trust and transparency in the financial services industry.

I think this is unique, and therefore I think there is clear space between us and the traditional generic review sites, or sites featuring expert opinion.

(5) What smart technology has been built to power the platform?

I am quite proud to say that the smartest thing about the platform is it’s simplicity. We needed to make the site easy to navigate and to allow busy consumers to share their reviews quickly.

That said, the site does have a bit of brain power behind it in the form of data analytics that derive value from our customer reviews. We didn’t want to push consumers down a prescriptive tick box style exercise. Rather, they have free reign to tell us what is important to them, and we have the ability to really understand that review.

(6) When did you decide equity funding was the right path, and how did you go about securing finance?

For us, equity funding meant more than just finance. The fund that provided our seed investment, TwentyThreeMiles, brought a number of other things to the table, most importantly advice and contacts.

(7) What are the big issues you’ve had to overcome?

As a new platform, we have to work on our SEO. This will take time, but is a good investment. We are also working hard to make sure that those consumers interested in our mission are actually joining us and sharing their customer experiences.

(8) What lessons have you learnt as you’ve grown the company?

The most important lesson, and one that I continue to learn, is the importance of being able to work through tasks and detail while remaining able to objectively step back and look at the bigger picture. I’ve also learnt that there really are not enough hours in the day!

(9) Where would you like to take the business?

We want to make SmartMoneyPeople the place for consumers to see what being customers of different companies really looks like. The time to find this out isn’t when you are in the middle of a car insurance claim or one year into a 30 year mortgage!

(10) Where do you think the crowdsourcing market is going?

I think the growth of technology and the increased availability of information is inspiring more people to become more active participants. In financial services, I see this trend as being vitally important. When we are happy with our customer experience we should spread the word, and when we’re unhappy we should vote with our feet. This is a form of economic democratisation, and financial services is ready for it.

See also: Building businesses with a start-up mentality

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

Related Topics

Tech Jobs & Careers