The Business Year

Andrés Villaquirán

COLOMBIA - Finance

Andrés Villaquirán

CEO, Insights

Bio

Andres Villaquirán is a serial entrepreneur and is now in his fourth company. His focus has been in fintech where he has successfully built businesses in the US, Latin America, Europe, and the UK, and Asia. His professional career started in New York, where he worked at JP Morgan and Credit Suisse for seven years. Academically, he has pursued bachelors’ degrees from MIT, masters’ degrees from NYU and Stanford University, and a PhD from Stanford University.

Insights is able to provide the mass affluent population of Latin America access to top financial services at competitive costs.

What does Insights specialize in and what is the company’s value proposition to the market?

Insights links Latin American investors to global capital markets and financial services. In Latin America, the best access to financial services is limited to high-net worth individuals, specifically in investments. As the emerging middle class and mass affluent population of Latin America continues to grow, this group of people do not have access to top financial services at typical and competitive costs. At Insights, we are addressing this need. Right now, our infrastructure allows people to download our app from the comfort of their homes, whether they are in Bogotá, Mexico City, or Santiago. In five minutes, they can have their own personal regulated account in the US that allows them to access investments and financial services globally. It is easier to open an account in the US with our service than it is to open a local account. Customers have access to better diversification, better products, and significantly lower costs. Advisory is not about telling people if the market is going up or down; it is about financial planning, transparency, and understanding the level of risk you should, or should not, be taking. It is extremely important to develop that understanding and financial education so as to become more knowledgeable and comfortable with your investments. Technology allows us to develop that with our clients in an efficient and scalable manner. 

Who can benefit from partnering with Insights?

Anyone interested in investing is able to benefit from Insights. One of the advantages of having a fully digital product is that we can service at a reasonable cost any type of account. We have clients that are wealthy but do not want to be charged the high cost of private banking, clients that are young professionals that are building their savings for their future and the future of their family, and clients that are starting to learn about investments. One of the key points of our product is that you can use Insights all on your own, or you can choose to have someone to talk to and guide you. We are regulated. All of our accounts are fully regulated in the US under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and are personal accounts. Each account is protected by SIPC insurance. In addition, from a regulatory point of view, we have adopted a strategy where we are involved with the local regulators to let them know what we do, what is happening, and where we see disruption taking place. Initially we are doing this in the four countries that are our main targets: Colombia, Mexico, Chile, and Peru.

What is the importance of using technology to improve how clients interact with the platform?

First, technology empowers us to open an account for someone in under five minutes with all the due processes still needed to open a financial account in the US. In addition to that, through efficient UI/UX we make it easy, simple, intuitive, for our users to set up investment portfolios, invest in real time, and understand their performance with full transparency. I have been in finance for over 25 years and one common issue is the lack of transparency from financial institutions with their investors on their performance, returns, the fees they are charged. Most people do not understand, or need help understanding, the statements they are sent by their financial institutions. This has started to change globally and we are part of a group of fintech companies driving that change in Latam. Finally, we have built technology to dynamically monitor and evaluate our clients’ investments and make sure their portfolios are optimized. We fully automate this process for our users and take away the bias from portfolio managers, which many peer-reviewed research has shown do not provide value but they do increase the cost to investors. 

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