A CASUAL PERUSAL of Y TREE’s landing page might lead you to believe this is just another fintech outfit offering wealth management, using imaginative, ingenious even, turn of phrase.
Click on the Futureverse link and the content library is suggestive of a think tank.
In fact, Y TREE is neither of the above. Stuart Cash, CEO and one of the three founders, disabuses me of any preconceptions on that front thirty seconds into our meeting.
A former partner at Goldman Sachs, in charge of risk management and pension funds’ investment strategy, he fits the very archetype of the quintessential career finance guy. Corporate finance.
Having spent half his career advising pension funds on mitigating market exposure and inflationary pitfalls, he had an epiphany in 2015: democratise the concept and share his accumulated intelligence with individual investors building their own asset and retirement portfolios.
A chance meeting with tech guru Arik Peretz, Y TREE’s co-founder, was synergistic and gave the project impetus. Johnnie Hampel rounded out their experience with his years of advising influential families and endowments.
So what is Y TREE?
In a sentence, it is the application of financial intelligence (data and technology) for the purpose of doing an MOT of clients’ investment portfolios and giving them pure advice to support the life they want to live.
Conceptually, this is a brilliant use of technology, given the vast majority of private investors (as well as pension fund managers) have a poor understanding of how their investments are impacted by a multitude of extraneous and inter-connected factors. And while asset liability management is nothing new – there is an entire industry dedicated to it — Y TREE has personalised it ingeniously.
The finance industry as a whole is opaque, even if or when it is not purposefully obfuscatory – there are simply too many variables and quite a few imponderables to contend with.
Y TREE is unbiased in that it doesn’t take commission from selling financial products. Rather, it identifies weaknesses in investment portfolios’ performance and suggests highly personalised solutions based on a combination of clients’ existing investments and lifestyle priorities.
Stuart Cash is at his most eloquent when he delves into Y TREE’s less tangible proposition: adding value to clients’ lives.
The leap from offering a personalised asset and investment MOT to enhancing lifestyle may be a stretch, but no one would argue the co-relation between how wealth, relative that it is, impacts health, fulfilment, contentment, philanthropy, retirement.
Being wealthy for its own sake is so Gordon Gekko, in any case, and when Stuart Cash proselytises, he is talking to a generation of people whose goalposts and imperatives have changed – subtly but meaningfully.
It’s no longer about the money itself, but more about what it enables us to do: from maximising that most valuable of assets, time, to creating a better world for our children.
Building a community
Perhaps the greatest achievement of Y TREE is its success in building a community around this concept. The 400-plus strong client base is not just bound by common interests in the broadest sense – Y TREE hosts regular proprietary events and also, podcasts in conjunction with Intelligence Squared.
Topics range from ‘Reimagining worth’ to ‘Where the world will be in 5, 50, 500 years’, to what the future holds in relation to various industries, and are suggested by members of the community.
Y TREE has coined a neat term for these debates: Futureverse.
Looking through other topics, The Future of Cities, The Future of the Internet (with Martha Lane-Fox, no less), The Future of Food, and so on, you would be forgiven for wondering if you’ve stumbled upon a think tank community.
Y TREE has no such aspirations – at least, none that were articulated by Stuart Cash at the time of our meeting. Rather, it is determined to create engagement between its members, based on the universally held desire to foretell the future and to future-proof the lives of those who come after us, to the extent that it is given to any of us, whether singly or jointly.