Author: Maha Khan Phillips
Launching a Fintech from scratch was a huge learning curve for Lucy Walker, CFA, Founder of AM Insights
While some of us spent the Covid lockdown finetuning our baking skills or learning the intricacies of Zoom, Lucy Walker, CFA, had other plans.
The former Head of Third Party Funds at Sarasin & Partners decided to enter the world of Fintech, launching a fund data platform that she says offers the industry the access to data she wished she had during her many years in fund research.
“I went from having fifteen years of experience in investment, to going into the world of technology. It’s been a real baptism of fire, but it’s been amazing. I’m no longer in the thick of markets, but have all this other knowledge of technology, and it has really expanded my horizons,” she says.
Walker, who is also Non-Executive Director of the Henderson International Income Trust and Chair of the Aurora Investment Trust, launched AM Insights in 2020 after identifying a gap in the market for a platform that offered access to fund information on the go. “As a fund researcher I often wanted to check something on the way to a manager or client meeting, but no tool was mobile-enabled,” she says.
She also felt while significant data is available, it can be hard to filter through it all. “When I joined Sarasin I was a massive advocate of Morningstar and fought for it to be our fund platform as it was head and shoulders above the competition. I continue to believe it’s an excellent platform and partner with them for data. But I would spend hours and hours in front of a platform like Morningstar, and what I often wanted was something higher level than that,” she says.
Walker’s platform is designed to be accessible from any device, whether it is a phone, tablet, or desktop. “And I also wanted it to be easy to use and focused on the most relevant data,” she says.
She believes tech has an important role to play in the development of the industry. “It’s perhaps converse for a value investor to launch a Fintech platform but I felt strongly there was a need for a tool like AM Insights. Every industry is digitalising, and many things in our industry can be substantially improved by digital processes.”
Starting from Scratch
Walker is happy she started from scratch, because it allowed her to take on feedback from the industry, she says. “When a sales team showed interest in the platform and started using it, I was getting their live feedback and able to act on it immediately. While start-ups have their own challenges, one of the huge benefits is the ability to be nimble and respond to feedback, and it’s exciting we have been able to do that,” she says.
Moreover, it has allowed Walker to power the platform with the list of funds each user cares about. “Giving people insights rather than them having to search for them. As a fund researcher I was always busy, so I wanted a platform that would give me what I needed faster, and would help prioritise my area of focus,” she says.
The platform went live mid-last year and Walker says she has been surprised by the range of users who came on board. “My original mission was to make the lives of fund researchers easier, so I hadn’t expected salespeople and investment managers to find it interesting, but it makes sense that the ability to quickly access fund data from anywhere, has been helpful to them as well.”
In addition to running AM Insights and her non-executive roles, Walker is also the co-Chief Executive Officer of Changing Digital, which helps founders and executives build digital platforms and take them to market. She is also an independent member of the Audit and Risk Committee at SportsAid. “SportsAid is such an important charity, supporting our future sporting stars on the difficult, and often costly journey of competing at the highest level," she says. She is also the mother of “two awesome boys”.