The recent arrival of personal finance resource MoneyHub has filled a need for financial education and reliable core information for many readers. We fill in some blanks about who they are and why they are doing this

The recent arrival of personal finance resource MoneyHub has filled a need for financial education and reliable core information for many readers. We fill in some blanks about who they are and why they are doing this
Christopher Walsh, Torbay, Auckland

As readers will know, we have been reposting some very useful resources from the website MoneyHub recently. They have been well read. We hope to post more.

But we have been asked about MoneyHub and who is behind it.

So we contacted publisher Christopher Walsh recently and asked him a few questions. If you have others, ask them in the Comment section below; he may respond directly there.


David Chaston:
This isn’t your first startup. Tell us a little bit more about your history prior to MoneyHub?

Christopher Walsh:
I started as a grad at EY, or Ernst & Young as it was known then, about ten years ago. I then moved to London and worked at Merrill Lynch as a distressed assets analyst. Despite the fast-pace challenges of dealing in an undefined market, I wasn’t inspired. It sounds a bit cliché, but after reading Alain de Botton’s The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work and Tim Ferriss’ The 4 Hour Work-Week, I knew doing something outside of finance was my destiny. I teamed up with a friend from EY, and we launched a web hosting, design and domain registration business, which has proven to meet the needs of thousands of SMEs wanting reliable, fixed-price services. I owe my co-founder everything for introducing me to the world of sales, which solves ANY problem in a startup, as does hiring the right management team who aren’t afraid to make decisions. Since then, I’ve started some side-projects. Nonetheless, I felt a MoneyHub-like website was overdue in New Zealand. In late 2017 I wrote the business plan, set aside some capital and made the first hires once we got a little traction.

DC:
How long has MoneyHub been going, and how are you guys set up?

Christopher Walsh:
We’ve been going around 18 months, kicking off things formally in early 2018. We have a team of four full-time employees, and a handful of experts we contract in as needed. We’ll be adding more research staff in the first quarter of 2020, as we push to cover the education sector, utility providers and the home loan market. I’m the principal owner, which is a first, as I’ve always worked with a co-founder. As MoneyHub scales, it will be natural for the business to look for sensible capital outside of the company. So far, we’ve exceeded all projections, both in terms of user numbers and revenue. We've focused on investing in core resources that build trust.

DC:
What made you want to start MoneyHub, and why now?

Christopher Walsh:
I’ve always had an interest in consumer rights and the freedom of resources. My parents subscribed to Consumer when I was younger, as well as Which? Magazine (the UK equivalent), which I read cover to cover. Price comparison websites are a natural extension of these publications, and I believe consumer finance products are complicated and largely incomparable for the average New Zealander. If my interests are in making financial information transparent, and I’m good at it, why not share the knowledge? I felt it was time New Zealand had a resource which was trusted to deliver plain English explanations of insurance, credit card, banking and other financial products and services.

DC:
Who is the average MoneyHub user right now?

Christopher Walsh:
We haven’t stratified our data internally, but our analytic products tell us 25-34 year-olds are our most prominent users, followed by 35-44 year-olds. Our scholarship and other student resources also attract an under 18-year-old audience periodically throughout the school terms. Most of our users find us via a Google search for specific information, i.e. car insurance. We’re proud to have 20%-35% of our daily users register as ‘return’ visitors.

DC:
What stands MoneyHub apart from similar websites and organisations like Consumer, and interest, etc? 

Christopher Walsh:
I have huge admiration for both these organisations, but I’m also pleased to see we’ve met the needs of a new audience. Consumer’s research is published behind a paywall, whereas MoneyHub is free-to-use. It also doesn’t review financial products in the volume MoneyHub does, nor does it deep-dive into standalone companies such as KiwiSaver schemes. Interest.co.nz, which does similar research to MoneyHub in specific areas, is ultimately a news-led website. MoneyHub isn’t news-based – we abandoned that very early on and re-allocated our efforts to where the user's eyes were going. We’d be interested in acquiring a financial news site later on, as RateHub.ca has done in Canada, but right now we’re geared to scale the MoneyHub brand.

DC:
Do you work with financial institutions directly? Do any of them pay to be included in your reviews like many of the large international comparison sites? 

Christopher Walsh:
We prepare our research independently of any commercial arrangements and we include as many providers as we possibly can. Completeness, trust and authenticity come before profit when you’re running a price comparison website.

DC:
How do you research your comparisons? 

Christopher Walsh:
Our research team locks down a topic and dives into the detail. Once our draft is internally reviewed, we present our findings to the companies we’ve researched, and ask them to provide feedback. We then go live or ask for selected users to provide feedback to make any final improvements. Recently, the community of Reddit’s PersonalFinanceNZ has provided input for student resources, which we greatly appreciate. After a resource goes live, we schedule regular updates.

DC:
New Zealand is relatively small compared to other markets where price comparison is big business...how does MoneyHub fit in?

Christopher Walsh:
The market is small – we’re a population of five million, but the demand for consumer-focused information is insatiable. Our user analytics have demonstrated we’re building a loyal following. We’re always going to act in their best interests and provide every New Zealander with the best tools.

DC:
Consumer finance is a huge market - what areas are you tackling as a priority? 

Christopher Walsh:
Insurance, education and banking. We’ve used our research team to publish resources that help with student CVs, scholarships, jobs and cover letters. Bringing transparency to banking and insurance products is a tough job, but we’re always re-pricing and re-publishing. Since launching, we are encouraged to see the variance in quotes contracting as insurers appear beside each other. Our resources are published to make users aware of key facts and considerations while giving example quotes. We’ve had some tough nuts to crack – deciphering the offerings of 'GEM Visa' and 'Lifetime Retirement Income' being two of many examples. We have dived into determining if 'Mastercard is better than Visa' or which 'Travel Money Card' offers the best FX rates and lowest fees. We are only as good as our last guide, so carefully considered explanations and high user engagement are critical for MoneyHub’s user trust.

DC:
From a marketing perspective, how are you growing your userbase? 

Christopher Walsh:
We’re focused on organic search-based growth because it’s sustainable and the most trusted. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is something at MoneyHub’s core because we see it as the most effective way to grow our reach. We don’t want to collect people’s names and numbers and target them as a lead. Instead, we want to provide the most relevant information and make informed decisions. This applies to bank products, insurance, loans, and so much more.

DC:
Where do you see MoneyHub by the end of 2020?

Christopher Walsh:
We are on target to triple our monthly users from where they are now, but we work hard to exceed our expectations, so anything is possible. Brand awareness is a huge opportunity for us right now. While high schools, mortgage brokers, insurers, banks and budget advisors all know about us, growing our reach to the mainstream is certainly our priority.

DC:
Thank you Chris. Is there anything else you want to cover? Any guiding principles you want to share?

Christopher Walsh:
I’m borrowing this from Y Combinator, but it has to be ‘make something people want'. I’ve seen countless startups sell a product or service that is worse than the problem they’re trying to solve. We’re not immune – our editors actively delete 5% to 10% of our guides every six months if they’ve not met engagement targets. We don’t want to be dragged down by irrelevant resources that people are not interested in, and it frees up resources to focus on what matters the most to readers.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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2 Comments

Comment Filter

Highlight new comments in the last hr(s).

Thanks to this article, I took a look at MoneyHub, and do like the easy to understand way they explain things, but I think they need to update some of their articles a bit more frequently.

I looked at their Best Bank Accounts (updated 4/9/2019), and it still says that Heartland offer 2% p.a. on their YouChoose current account, which is higher than I get with BNZ, so I checked it out.

Actually it was 1.7%, so not worth the hassle of switching over, but maybe worth opening an account with them just to spread my cash about.

Still. Thanks David for introducing me to another financial resource. It's appreciated.

Hi Sibrit - thanks so much for the positive response. Indeed the Heartland offer changed very recently, we're thinking within <3 days ago, but with all the movements in the market, we'll be updating this guide on a weekly basis now. Please let us know if there's anything you'd like to see on MoneyHub.co.nz. Kind regards, Christopher Walsh