5 minutes with… David Genn, CEO of Goji
The Drawdown (TDD): First things first, can you tell me about Goji and its origin?
David Genn (DG): Our mission at Goji is to increase access to private markets, which has become much more of interest to individual investors over the last decade. We do that by providing investment platform technology and associated services to investment managers to facilitate the distribution of their products.
Goji was founded in 2015 when we began serving UK alternative managers, working across the crowdfunding space. Over time, we've grown our business model to serve more traditional asset managers that have wanted to diversify the way they can distribute their product and want to take advantage of technology to be able to give their investors a much better investment journey.
TDD: How does Goji use platform technology to streamline processes?
DG: For investors wanting to invest into stocks and shares or ETFs, there are many investment platforms that can deliver this in a couple of clicks. Whereas, it’s a much more lengthy process for investors of alternative assets. Understandably so, because there's a number of additional regulatory hurdles that need to be considered.
But very often, the process is manual, involving filling in paper forms and emailing or faxing those forms to fund administrators somewhere. Our technology digitises that end-to-end journey so that investors can go through the entire process without having to touch a single piece of paper. This means that managers can efficiently onboard a lot more investors but they can do so with much greater management of risk and regulatory controls because they have a complete digital audit trail.
Our investment platform is simple, allowing investors to provide all of their information and upload any documentation to pass KYC & AML checks. Critically, investors can complete the investment documentation online as well. So, what we've tried to do is take what have traditionally been very complex and long-winded processes and make them as simple and as intuitive as we can.
TDD: In your opinion, what has changed in the industry over the course of Goji’s seven years?
DG: I think, seven years ago, the idea of distributing at scale to individual private wealth investors was probably something that large asset managers would acknowledge, but it wasn't a top priority for them.
Now, the industry has moved on significantly. Across the private market funds space, everyone is either actively engaged in leveraging technology to be able to distribute to these pools of investors, or either actively planning projects to enable this.
It seems there has been a real wholesale shift within the industry to look at product distribution to new groups of investors. There is also a real move to make these products available to clients of wealth managers, private banks, and sophisticated investors.
TDD: Can you tell me more about the recent news that Euroclear has acquired Goji?
DG: Yes, this is extremely exciting! Our mission from the start has been to make private markets as easy to invest in as it is to be able to invest in mutual funds, stocks and shares or ETFs.
Euroclear is one of the global leaders in providing straight-through processing for mutual funds and other securities. We began conversations with them about a year ago to try and do something similar for private markets.
The idea is to combine Euroclear's global reach with the distributors that are investing into these kinds of products with our technology and expertise that particularly works for private funds. The acquisition is to achieve that common mission of building the market-leading infrastructure that could work towards providing straight-through processing for private funds.
This means that distributors and banks can leverage the existing services they take from Euroclear and place an order in the same way they might do for mutual funds. We believe this will revolutionise the way people can access these kinds of funds, and will bring operational efficiencies and transparency across the value chain.
TDD: Where do you see Goji going in the next 12 months?
DG: We will be working very closely with Euroclear to build the new product capabilities to be able to augment their existing fund services for private funds. We will be working with Euroclear's customers to build out those capabilities, but also working with fund service providers across the value chain to ensure that we can integrate as closely with them as we can.
Our goal here is to build as seamless and straight-forward a digital process as we can, removing manual steps throughout the chain. I think that is one of the key things that we can do to really help the industry - remove the need for a manual, complex onboarding system.
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