In 2017, I left my job as a Product Marketing Manager at IBM Philippines to join a small fin-tech start-up called Moneymax (part of Hyphen Group, known as CompareAsiaGroup back then) as their Head of Marketing. I had not heard of either brand, but a quick Google search revealed the news of a recent $50 M series B, a roster of alumni from McKinsey, Visa, etc., and the presence of a board made up of Goldman Sachs, Alibaba, IFC, etc — which was reassuring enough. It’s been 4 years since then, and as Moneymax celebrated its 7th birthday last month, I decided to take a pause and reflect on my journey so far.
Putting people at the heart of what we do
When I joined Moneymax, I had lived in the Philippines for 2+ years, however; because I was working in the technology space for the US market, I had only a high-level knowledge of the financial services industry here. Also, I had spent most of my career in B2B marketing. I am glad that our CEO, Sam Allen, who hired me, took a chance on a person who was new — not only to the country but also to the industry, as well as B2C marketing.
Recognizing this, from day one, I jumped head-on into every opportunity that I could get to understand our market, customer pain points, and barriers that Filipinos face in accessing financial products. Through listening to customer calls, meeting on-ground partners, interacting with people on our social media channels and events, and conducting regular market research studies, I kept my ears to the ground to be able to understand what our customers expected from us.
Winning is a team sport
Moneymax started its operations with just 10 employees and it’s been exciting to see it grow to almost 100 now. We have changed our office twice in these 4 years to accommodate this expanding team!
However, as with everyone else, 2020 was a tough year for us. We have been working remotely for the past 16 months, during which many new employees joined us and are yet to meet their colleagues.
Despite this, we have strived to foster real connections among our teams — through virtual yoga, birthdays and pride celebrations, town halls, etc. We have tried to create a culture of empathy and support through mental health programs and focus group discussions on employee concerns.
While Moneymax was growing, I added some more members to my personal brood in the form of my two sons who were born in 2018 and 2021 (thus earning my moniker Mommymax).
I used to imagine that working in a start-up for a mom of three would be tough — would there be ad-hoc late-night calls? What if I have to work on weekends? Would my manager be supportive of unplanned leaves? As is the case with many working moms, I worried endlessly during both my maternity breaks about all this.
However, with Hyphen Group, I realized that I don’t have to sacrifice my ambitions in order to raise a family. With a culture that is highly supportive of working mothers, both times I have been able to smoothly transition back to my professional duties while caring for my young children.
Blaze the Trail
Among the markets that Hyphen Group serves, the Philippines is the most financially excluded one. As per BSP’s data, 77% (of the total adult population) do not have a bank account, and 82% do not have any form of insurance.
Moneymax’s promise is simple: we want to bridge this gap in knowledge and access through free, fair, and fast access to financial products and information. How much of this goal has come to fruition in these 7 years?
Between 2014 and 2021, we have seen a –
- 4x increase in banking and insurance partners
- 9x increase in average monthly users
- 360x increase in average monthly applications
Although we have made significant progress in the last 7 years, the awareness of financial comparison, and financial literacy in general, remains low. Case in point: Still less than 7% of car owners every month search for car insurance online to compare prices.
To address this issue, a few years ago I had an idea to reach out to other aggregators in the market to explore if we could jointly drive our category awareness (similar to Got Milk? campaign). Only one aggregator responded to my outreach and I ended up enjoying a great conversation over a cup of coffee with my ‘competitor’. That person was Pearl Joy Gonzales, who by a stroke of luck, is now my partner in heading Moneymax.
2021 & Beyond
While gaining market share is important for us, what gives us even more satisfaction is the ‘heart share’ of our users. Over the last 7 years, we have received more than a thousand reviews across various platforms, making Moneymax the most well-reviewed financial comparison website in the Philippines.
However, we still have a long way to go. For example, the CSAT survey of our car insurance customers points towards improvements required in our claims customer service. Apart from this, we will continue to work towards our core goals of:
- offering our users a greater variety of products to choose from
- driving awareness of emerging financial products
- inspiring Filipinos to lead a healthy financial life through personal stories
It’s been 4 years and still, on most days I wake up feeling energized about this opportunity to make a real difference. On behalf of Team Moneymax, I thank everyone who has guided, supported, and cheered us along this journey. I am 100% enthusiastic about what’s next in store for us!
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.