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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Harjas Singh, one of the co-founders of Shares, a social investing platform that is revolutionising the investment landscape. My co-host, Charlie, a seasoned stock analyst, joined me in this insightful conversation.
Harjas Singh, with his rich background as a software engineer in the financial services industry and his stint at Revolut, brought a unique perspective to our discussion. His time at Revolut, where he was inspired by their innovative products, played a significant role in the birth of Shares. The idea for Shares was sparked after witnessing the GameStop squeeze, which highlighted the potential for a social investing platform.
Filling the Gap in the Market
Harjas explained that most investment platforms operate as single-player utilities, lacking the social aspect that many people rely on for support and transparency. Shares aims to fill this gap by introducing a social layer to investing, allowing users to connect with others and make better investment decisions.
Building Trust and Ensuring a Seamless User Experience
We delved into the importance of trust in investing, especially for newer investors. Harjas emphasized that Shares builds trust by providing live visibility into users’ investment portfolios, allowing others to see real-time trades and holdings. The platform also focuses on ensuring a seamless user experience, addressing concerns such as timely money transfers and accurate portfolio calculations.
Sustainability and Ethical Investing
Shares takes a proactive approach towards sustainability and ethical investing. Harjas mentioned that Shares categorises stocks in industries like renewable energy and plant-based products, making it easier for investors to make ethical choices.
Challenges and Lessons Learned
Building Shares was not without its challenges. Marrying social media and investing was a significant hurdle, as they had to compete with other investment platforms and innovate on the social side to improve user interactions. Compliance was another necessary evil to build a safe platform. They worked closely with their trust and safety team to implement controls and guidelines to prevent harassment and market manipulation.
The Business Model and Future Plans
Currently, Shares only offers trading of US stocks for UK users with a flat £1 fee per trade. However, they are working on adding more products, such as ISAs, to the platform in the near future. The potential introduction of fractional shares and other improvements to ISAs were also discussed.
The Impact of Economic Trends on Fintech
Harjas shared his insights on the impact of current economic trends on the fintech industry. He explained that fintech companies thrive during periods of increased consumer spending, but suffer when consumer spending decreases. He emphasised the importance of staying abreast of trends and giving customers what they want at the right time.
Shares stands out as a social investing platform. It allows investors to connect with others, learn from their trades, and ask questions. It aims to provide an educational journey for new investors who may not know where to start.
The Road Ahead
While Shares currently lacks certain investment products, such as ETFs, Harjas expressed confidence in the company’s plans for innovation and improvement in the coming months.
The interview concluded with a discussion about Harjas’s journey from India to the US and his gratitude for the opportunity to talk about Shares. I expressed my interest in having Harjas back on the show in the future to discuss any new products or developments at Shares.