In the world of investing a transition is taking place. More and more people start to take on investing. Mainly young people realize that a lavish old-age provision is no longer taken for granted. With Semmie, everyone can invest with a budget starting from a few tens of euros. During the time his son Semmie [...]

In the world of investing a transition is taking place. More and more people start to take on investing. Mainly young people realize that a lavish old-age provision is no longer taken for granted. With Semmie, everyone can invest with a budget starting from a few tens of euros.

During the time his son Semmie was born, Sem van Berkel (34) started the independent digital platform that operates under the same name. “With Semmie, you invest, in a way, ‘using cruise control’. We are here for people that want to invest but do not know how to.”

Image: three generations

The Beginning

What is Semmie?
“With a combination of smart technology and financial knowledge, we give everyone access to a world of investing that once was only open to the happy few. The only thing a client has to do is open a bank account online. And Semmie carries out everything related to investments. Whether you want to invest €50 or €50,000: your money stays available at all times.”

What is so innovative about this?
“We do not invest directly in companies, but we spread. We choose for sustainable shares and bond funds that in turn invest in hundreds of different investments. Think for example about Actiam, UBS and Blackrock. These companies meet several criteria that we use to assess what is in our eyes sustainable investing.”

How does this work for the client?
“If you’d like to become a client of Semmie, you’ll have to open a bank account online to start the process. You will answer a couple of questions about yourself from which follows a personal strategy. Behind the scenes, we are connected to the securities administration of BinckBank, so an IBAN account immediately is opened in your name and you can transfer an amount through iDEAL. From that moment, we start investing for you.”

How did Semmie come about?
“When I was young, I did not belong to the category of obedient schoolboys and at the age of sixteen my father was fed up with me and I started working for him. In 2014, my sister came to me with a jar filled with money that she had saved monthly. With this money she let me invest. However, in the Netherlands this was only possible at an entry level of thousands of euros. That is why I started talking with BinckBank about fractional investments.”

The Now

Up to now, what do the numbers show?
“We cannot disclose an exact number, but we are well on our way to 10,000 users.”

How long did the development take? What was the greatest challenge?
“In 2014, we started with the first sketches. I worked two years to build the Semmie-platform to create exactly what we wanted for our clients. Currently, we are still expanding the tooling and functionalities. Now, our greatest challenge is to become less dependable on third parties. Because we believe in our own choices and we want to follow our own way in that matter.”

What would you describe as the distinctive characteristic?
“What we envision is the personal service of an old-fashioned investment manager. But then online. And suitable for every budget. To realize that, an online investment platform must demonstrate great competence.”

The Future

What is on the agenda in the near future?
“Our objective is 100,000 users, in five years. That is very ambitious but reaching it would be amazing. We make considerable efforts by establishing a department to expose our knowledge as a classic asset manager even better. This provides reasonable assurance to invest larger amounts through Semmie, with the approach to disrupt and digitize the market.”

When are you satisfied?
“I want to dive into sustainable investing even further, and even take on ‘impact investing’. This means investing with the goal to generate a positive return and positively contribute to society and the environment. Besides, I want to eliminate prejudices about investing. Investing is not always expensive, not always for ‘the rich’ and you are not always carrying unnecessary risks. Everyone in the Netherlands should at least seriously consider it, I believe.”

What do you expect of your participation in the AIA?
“AIA would be a great stage for us to display ourselves. The past years we have mainly been working on the Semmie platform. Now it is time to generate more brand awareness. When I look at the many participants in AIA in the past years, I recognize several great parties that have become successful. We would like to add Semmie to the list.”

*) Semmie is participating in the Accenture Innovation Awards 2018 in the Finance theme.

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