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Co-CEO of WiseBanyan talks about his financial startup

Herbert Moore is co-founder and co-CEO of WiseBanyan, a financial adviser startup. WiseBanyan started in New York but moved to Las Vegas in 2014 with Downtown Project funding. Moore previously worked as head trader at a commodity trading adviser in New York City.

Question: How did you get started?

Answer: For 10 years, I worked in finance in New York City and in 2012, I started my own company. We were a financial adviser and we managed money for mainly high net worth individuals. We didn’t make our own software but we were very smart about which software we chose to use and that allowed us to scale in a way that other firms weren’t able to. We were able to take smaller amounts of money than other firms and invest in more complex strategies simply because we used commercially available software. But, what we found was, even lowering the minimum to $100,000, for every one client we took, we had to turn away 10 clients simply because they didn’t have the amount of capital that we were able to accommodate with what we built.

So we took a step back and we said, ‘Well what if we reimagined this business from the ground up’? And we built our own software end to end. We built WiseBanyan. And we really saw two main trends, the first was that most financial advisers didn’t want to or couldn’t accommodate people with smaller net worth who had real-life financial goals. And then second, that people were increasingly disconnected from retail financial services institutions. Whereas 20 years ago we might have all cashed our paycheck at a bank branch every two weeks — the loan officer or the branch manager or teller would know us, know when we needed a mortgage or other financial services products — that relationship has really gotten disrupted recently. So we saw a huge opportunity to become a financial services brand for the next generation.

Q: Tell me about what brought you to Las Vegas?

A: It (WiseBanyan) had been going for one year in New York. We’d raised a good chunk of capital but my co-founder, Vicki (Zhou), met some folks that were working with the Vegas Tech Fund and we called them up. We came out here and met with them and they made us an offer. They told us about the downtown community that they were building here, all of the ideas that they had about building an ecosystem of retail businesses, community businesses, like schools or health care and then technology businesses and we bought in.

Q: It sounds like you had one idea and then it changed?

A: That’s correct. My co-founder, Vicki, was working with me at the time and we really decided we should take a step back and look at the broader market opportunity rather than just focus on a niche that everybody else was focusing on. We felt like there were a ton of people that were being overlooked.

Q: What problem is WiseBanyan trying to solve?

A: If you survey millennials, people ages 19 through 35 now, more or less, the vast majority want to save and invest but they don’t know how or the barrier to enter is too high to get started.

What we do is, clients come to us, they define what goals they have — whether it’s retiring, buying a home, sending a child to college — and we call these goals milestones and then we set up an investment plan for them to get started.

Q: Advice for Las Vegas entrepreneurs?

A: Get out of your comfort zone a little bit. It’s much easier to talk to people that are in the same shoes as your are. I try to talk to people that have bigger businesses than we do because that’s kind of where we’re going and looking.

Q: What is the next step for WiseBanyan?

A: The most popular milestone that people are saving towards on WiseBanyan is a new home. So we’re looking at a partnership with a mortgage provider now where we can be that complete end-to-end solution for people. We want to focus much more on the achievement side of people’s financial goals rather than simply the asset management. The asset management is the backbone of it, but we want to make sure that they get all the way there.

Q: Fun Fact?

A: Before WiseBanyan, one of my biggest hobbies was woodworking and building, and I built a 26-foot fishing boat that has a 225-horsepower engine on it that goes about 50 miles an hour on the water. And I built that from raw wood from a lumber yard.

This interview was condensed for clarity.

Contact Alexander S. Corey at acorey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0270. Find @acoreynews on Twitter.

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