Alpian Focuses on Affluent Customers
The startup business is focusing its business model on wealthy customers. Specifically, Alpian will focus on the mass affluent segment (i.e., those with investable assets between 100,000 and 1 million Swiss francs or $108,000 and $1.08 million). Focusing on affluent customers sets the startup company apart from some of its competitors like Robin Hood, which provides investment services to the general public by offering a zero-cost commission business model.
Banking on the Human Touch
The Alpian business strategy emphasizes the human touch in financial services. “We want to allow clients to see and speak with an adviser via virtual meetings to discuss the more intricate areas of their finances,” Alpian told Finextra. The startup company strategy to emphasize one-on-one interaction with clients sets the company apart from the roboadvisor trend in fintech.
According to Venture Radar, there are at least twenty active roboadvisor startup companies active in the United States (US) alone. Business Insider estimates that 8% of US households currently use a roboadvisor service. That means that US roboadvisor firms currently manage more than $300 billion in assets. The roboadvisor business uses algorithms and software to automate trading, portfolio management, and related financial services.
Swiss Bank Helps Alpian to Grow
Alpian has a close relationship with the traditional banking industry. Reyl, a Swiss private bank company, helped the company to get off the ground. Structurally, the startup business is a subsidiary of Rely. Established in 1973, Reyl is a relatively new company in the private banking business. The company has 13.5 billion Swiss francs ($14.6 billion) in assets and has more than 200 professional employees in Switzerland, London, Malta, Singapore, and Dubai.
How Switzerland Is Encouraging Fintech Innovation
Switzerland, long home to major banks like UBS and Credit Suisse, has recently made policy changes to encourage fintech innovation. The fintech license, first offered in 2018, is designed to encourage a new type of smaller business in the financial industry. Specifically, the business license allows a new fintech company to accept up to 100 million in Swiss francs in deposits (equivalent to $108 million).
According to accounting firm PWC, the cost of obtaining a fintech license in Switzerland is quite affordable. The firm estimates that the annual cost of the fintech license is between 40,000 to 50,000 Swiss francs ($43,000 to $54,000). However, additional business costs such as audits, advisory costs, and work efforts to create company policies are separate. PWC estimates that a new fintech license could be granted in approximately four months.
As a result, Switzerland has more than 400 active fintech startups in business, according to a 2021 estimate from Crowdfund Insider.
About the Author
Bruce Harpham is an author and marketing consultant based in Canada. His first book, "Project Managers At Work," shared real-world success lessons from NASA, Google, and other organizations. His articles have been published in CIO.com, InfoWorld, Canadian Business, and other organizations. Visit BruceHarpham.com for articles, interviews with tech leaders, and updates on future books.