EasyEquities: The great disruptor

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If the stockbroking industry is working and meeting the needs of all South Africans, why do less than half a percent of us invest in local equities?

“Stock brokers have created a myth that investing in the JSE is hard,” says Charles Savage, CEO of EasyEquities. “The tendency has been to over-complicate the process – make it seem sophisticated – and then charge high fees to help investors demystify it.”

In truth, says Savage, it’s not complicated at all. Or even expensive.

EasyEquities is a new investment platform that has smashed the barriers to entry into the JSE. It aims to make the purchase of shares easy, cheap and fun, ensuring that all South Africans can own shares in the companies they love.

“While developing the EasyEquities platform we looked at the two elements that scare regular South Africans away from investing in the stock market – the perception that it’s expensive and the belief that it’s complicated,” says Savage.

“We challenged the traditional approach to investing on the JSE. Our plan was to completely disrupt the market and create a new environment where anyone can invest.”

Being a disruptor means abandoning old ways of doing things, being 100% adaptive to change and doing everything you can to make your existing business obsolete. It’s extreme!

“We cut costs to a minimum, which made surprisingly little difference,” says Savage. “So then we focused on making investing easy and engaging – and here’s where we saw we could make a huge impact. While developing EasyEquities we asked ourselves – and continue to ask ourselves – ‘will this make it easier?’ If the answer is no, we keep trying different things until the answer changes. That’s how you innovate. That’s how you disrupt the market. You have to have the appetite for risk.”

If you think this is it, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

“We have big plans,” says Savage. “Right now we are about 5% into the EasyEquities Master Plan, which is an ever-growing document. There are hugely exciting times ahead for all of us – current and future EasyEquities investors, the JSE and its listed companies, as well as for us at EasyEquities and our holding company Purple Group. There are no losers here.”

EasyEquities is the winner of the Accenture Innovation Index award for 2014.

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