By Charndré Emma Kippie
Scott Picken is a South African-born real estate investor and serial FinTech entrepreneur, who is popularly known for his amazing business acumen. As the co-founder and Chairman of the Board at Wealth Migrate (launched in 2010) – the remarkable FinTech company that offers real estate investments on its online marketplace through crowdfunding – Scott has authored Property Going Global (2014) and has expert knowledge in acquiring and maintaining wealth.
Scott is passionate about Collaborative SMART Investing™ and is one of the first to realise its potential to revolutionise real estate forever and create global wealth for all. He has dedicated his life and career to solving the wealth gap. Scott completed a B.Sc Construction Management (Cum Laude) with a dissertation on how technology was going to change construction and real estate at University of Cape Town, South Africa. Scott also obtained a Masters in Construction Technology (Cum Laude).
We’d love to know more about Wealth Migrate. What excites you the most about the business?
What excites me most about the business is democratisation. When you look at the stats in the western world – that’s England, Australia, and America – by the age of 65, 94% of people are either going to be dead, reliant on the government, or broke. 5% of people are going to be financially independent and that means that they earn 25% less than their last paycheque in retirement – which basically means that they are trapped financially and only 1% of people retire wealthy.
The wealth gap or income disparity is getting wider and wider and there is only one reason for it; it is because the wealthy, the top 1%, invest in better quality assets. And now using technology, everyone can participate and invest like the top 1% in those same quality assets, but with a far lower amount of money – sometimes as little as $100. And so, for me, it is really about giving people the opportunity to create the freedom they want in their life.
In what ways, do you think, online marketplaces are enhancing the South African economy?
There’s 3 things that technology does whenever it disrupts an industry: it cuts out the middlemen, it cuts the costs, and it dramatically increases the trust, the transparency, and the accessibility. And so, the online marketplaces are doing just that. For example, in property there are 16 different middlemen between the investment and the investor.
The online marketplace has cut out those middlemen, dramatically cut the cost (which increases the return), and increased the trust, transparency and the accessibility – which is good for every investor and supplier in the South African economy.
When you look at it in the UK, some of the crowdfunding platforms that are there have really enhanced the economy, in terms of being able to fund companies that create jobs, and being able to fund projects that create jobs. So, it has a big impact on the economy at large.
Which major FinTech trends, in your opinion, will come to the forefront during 2021?
There are so many exponential technologies that are having a dramatic impact around the world. However, I believe that we can actually keep it fairly simple, and what I mean by that is due to COVID many people have learnt how to work online, they’ve learnt how to shop online.
I think one of the major trends that’s happening is that people are starting to learn to invest online and how to educate themselves online. And so, we could talk about all the fancy crypto currencies, Defy, Big Data, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, but I’d rather keep it very simple, and say that what I think you’re going to see is find more people take control of their lives and no longer relying on others. With that, empowerment will drive them towards their freedom. I think the biggest FinTech trend is people taking control of their lives.
What goes into obtaining a licence to offer crowdfunding services to investors? How challenging is this process?
That’s a classic question. The idea for the business started as far back as my dissertation in 1998 and we launched the business in 2010. We worked with the regulators, but couldn’t get any results, and then in 2015 we formed the African CrowdFunding Association – which had 24 platforms across Africa – and then we worked with them for another 5 years to be able to get the license.
So, to say that it’s been challenging would be an understatement. We are very grateful to have worked with a regulator and now created a regulated space, not only in South Africa but in the African continent – it is the first one of its kind.
What tips do you have for businesses/individuals for engaging with a regulator in the best possible way?
- Learn the best practices from around the world. Go and find out what’s been happening from around the world in a regulatory space.
- Form a body – so it’s not just about your company, but about a body in general.
- You need to work proactively with the regulator from a dialogue perspective. Be proactive, not reactive.
- Make use of experts that already understand how the regulator works, the questions they’re asking, as well as the risks and concerns they’re trying to solve.
What are your three top tips for ensuring the success of a FinTech business?
- The first one is you are only as good as your partners. Make sure you have quality partners.
- Secondly, within your business, try not to have generalists, but rather specialists – specifically in tech, digital marketing, sales revenue, and the commercial space.
- Remember that you are only as good as your community. So, build a community of passionate people who want to see you succeed.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing the light bulb come on in people’s eyes when they realise they can take control of their own lives; they can create the freedom they want, whether it’s team members or whether its people using the platform, or people coming through the investing or coming to the live events. It’s when that belief changes and they realise that they are the stewards of their lives and they have the power to be able to create the life they want.
What have been some major obstacles in your career, and how did you overcome them?
Funding has been one of the biggest challenges. If you are not from America or China, or Europe or England, funding for Fintech and technology companies is very challenging. We really had to be creative around that.
Dealing with cross border team members, that are all around the world, is a very difficult task to manage, especially with time zones and culture.
Also, we are in the financial industry, and trying to deal with regulators and compliance – is a phenomenally difficult task. So, with all three of them, the standard ‘tick the box’ approach doesn’t really work because there is no box to tick. Therefore, we had to follow basic practise; going out and studying other businesses, and studying other industries. We had to learn a lot.
I think the whole idea is to be a learning leader and consistently be trying to understand what’s working around the world, and then bring that base practise into your business, but the most important thing Is always to be solution-focused. Most people spend 96% of their time focusing on the problem. Whereas leaders spend 96% of their time focusing on the solution.
What are your goals for the future of Wealth Migrate?
It’s very simple: our purpose is to help solve the world GAP. Our vision is to make investing as simple as a swipe of the finger, using just $1. Ultimately, we would like to empower a billion plus people on this planet and have a significant impact on solving the greatest challenge on the planet – which is the world GAP.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs who aspire to work in the FinTech/ online marketplace Industry?
I think it’s the same advice I would have for anyone – there’s no such thing as an overnight success.
I’ve been doing this for 23 years now. It’s very difficult, and I love the rule of 10 thousand hours, where you go deep and you really need to find something that you are passionate about; you need to understand your purpose and realise that it’s not going to be easy and that you’re going to make mistakes. The only way that you’ll keep going is if it’s something you love.
For example, a mercenary is in it for the quick buck, and a missionary is in it to change the world. If you are a mercenary, this is not a game to be in – its not a quick buck, it’s a long-term game plan.
The last thing I would say is find what your first base is. There is a great thing called wealth dynamics. Go and understand what you are good at and then get people that can compensate for your weaknesses – let your team members contribute by doing what they are good at.
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