Today on Fintech, we are please to speak to Vinny Yu and Jeff Tsai, Co-Founder of JAVLIN Invest. JAVLIN Invest is the only portfolio optimization app to provide both risk-return portfolio optimization and the ability to project long-term risk-return based on potential macroeconomic conditions. Leveraging machine learning and sophisticated risk models, JAVLIN Invest offers self-directed investors intelligent portfolio risk insights that go beyond the basic definition of diversification.
Who are you and what’s your background?
[Vinny] My background is in equity trading and M&A (mergers and acquisitions). I have worked with many top hedge funds, private equity firms, investment banks and Fortune 500 companies throughout my career. My experience is unique in that I have extensive experience from investing in a single share of a company to outright buying the company as a whole. I received my bachelor’s degree in economics as well as a master’s in finance and an MBA with a specialization in asset management from Boston College. After spending years on Wall Street, banking and the corporate world, I realized that I wanted to do something I was really passionate about and help people invest better. I met Jeff, my co-founder, through basketball and we shared similar values. That’s how we started JAVLIN.
[Jeff] I am a certified actuary by training (FSA, MAAA, CERA) and worked at a financial services insurance company focused on retirement products. I was the board approved appointed actuary in charge of all actuarial functions and worked intimately with the corporate finance, enterprise risk management, legal, marketing, and capital management teams within the company. Prior to becoming the appointed actuary, I was the risk officer overseeing all of the company’s enterprise risk management. I have deep knowledge of ALM and risk models. I received my bachelor’s degree in economics and statistics from Columbia University.
One of my passion projects is an 8-bit basketball game that I helped design/code for iOS, and I wanted to pursue a better intersection of my love for understanding risk and technology. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to create JAVLIN with Vinny.
What is your job title and what are your general responsibilities?
[Vinny] I am one of the Co-founders of JAVLIN Invest. My typical day consists of having a meeting with my co-founder, Jeff, in the morning and then checking in with our various teams throughout the day to make sure we are on track with our deadlines. Wherever there are gaps or issues, Jeff and I jump in and help however we can. It’s a lot of project management and problem solving.
[Jeff] I am the other co-founder of JAVLIN Invest. Vinny also left out that all of the proprietary algorithms that are the brains of JAVLIN Invest have been coded by the two of us. So in addition to what Vinny mentioned, we also spend a lot of time every day discussing models, economics, investing, risk, as well as app design and development, on top of all the coding we do.
Can you give us an overview of your business?
JAVLIN Invest is the only portfolio optimization app to provide both risk-return portfolio optimization and the ability to project long-term risk-return based on potential macroeconomic conditions. Leveraging machine learning and sophisticated risk models, JAVLIN Invest offers self-directed investors intelligent portfolio risk insights that go beyond the basic definition of diversification. This enables more confident investment decision-making that aligns to different levels of risk-return preferences. JAVLIN Invest complements existing trading and investment platforms with easy-to-use risk optimization tools typically reserved for sophisticated investors and industry professionals.
Tell us how you are funded.
We are 100% self funded.
Why did you start the company? To solve what problems?
We wanted to provide the average investor with the same tools that the professionals were using so that they can make confident investment decisions. JAVLIN Invest aims to do two things:
1. Provide a snapshot of how risky your stock portfolio is objectively through data-driven analytics.
2. Tell you how you can potentially mitigate that risk by optimizing your portfolio.
Traditionally, portfolio optimization is quite complicated and requires a lot of financial knowledge. We do all that for you in an easy to use app.
[Jeff] Additionally, this app is a perfect synthesis of both our unique skill sets and passions – risk and investing.
Who are your target customers? What’s your revenue model?
Our target customers are self directed investors that are comfortable with managing their finances through an app. Our revenue model is subscription-based with different tier pricing.
We hope to help our customers understand the risks inherent in their portfolio and how to turn those risks into potential opportunities.
If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change in the banking and/or FinTech sector?
[Vinny] I would make all money transfers executed instantly. No more waiting 1-3 business days to see it reflected in your account.
[Jeff] I would love to see a complete change in the models that inherently capture and perpetuate socioeconomic disadvantages. Technology can really play a huge role in helping to change that and allow more people the ability to improve their financial wellbeing.
What is your message for the larger players in the Finance industry?
[Jeff] Check us out.
What phone are you carrying and why?
[Vinny] iPhone 12 Pro because Apple’s the best.
[Jeff] iPhone SE 2020… also because Apple is the best!
Where do you get your industry news from?
For general news, Yahoo Finance and Bloomberg are my go to sources. For more in-depth industry analysis, I read research reports from JP Morgan and Merrill.
What’s the best FinTech product or service you’ve seen recently?
[Jeff] I think Mercury is pretty cool. It’s a banking service with free domestic and international wires so I like that.
Finally, let’s talk predictions. What trends do you think are going to define the next few years in the FinTech sector?
[Jeff] With so many young investors participating in the stock market recently, I would imagine that there would be a strong focus on investment education going forward. We’ll likely see a lot of products and services out there that will look to help young investors learn more about what that actually entails as they go through life.
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