Investment Solver Ltd was founded in 2014 by Manuel Peleteiro. The company has developed a digital platform called Inbest, a data analytics platform that aims to democratise the access to wealth management. Inbest enables financial institutions to provide a holistic, personal and realistic financial planning service. This solution automates the financial planning process by gathering and analyzing customers’ financial data.
The company approached Interface in 2015 with the concept around developing a platform that would help users learn and understand their finances, empowering them to make better financial decisions. At the time, investment providers were launching online investment propositions targeted at digital consumers, but a large majority of this market segment was not engaged with saving and investing.
Investment Solver was looking to collaborate with academics interested and researching the fields of:
• Cognitive science
• Information visualisation
• Computer interaction science
• User interface design
Enhanced Support in the Interim
Whilst the company was refining its business proposition and technical offering, Interface connected them with Edinburgh Napier University who supported them in applying for a RSE (Royal Society of Edinburgh) Fellowship, hosted by the University. They were successful, and as an awardee, the company were able to focus solely on refining their business ideas, whilst receiving one year’s salary, expert training in entrepreneurship, and access to mentorship from business Fellows of the RSE and other successful entrepreneurs in the business community – all of which are vital for an early stage business.
Interface also connected them to Dr Roberto Rossi, Director of Post Graduate Programmes at University of Edinburgh Business School, as they were looking to develop a sound and innovative marketing strategy.
Dr Rossi’s Project Management students worked with the company to carry out focus groups to test the problems that first home buyers face and evaluate whether HouseUp, one of the company’s applications, would help them.
“I am very happy with the output of the project and I have used their insights for the product road map and in presentations with clients”, said Manuel.
Due to the success of the student project, the relationship developed between Interface, Investment Solver and Dr Rossi, resulting in another collaboration between the company and Dr Rossi’s students the following year. This was a market-orientated project which would help the company guide decisions on one of their product features. They provided the students with the working prototype of HouseUp, which they used in customer interviews. As a result of the study, Investment Solver gained a better understanding of the characteristics of potential customers and their needs.
“As the norm, the students have done a terrific job”, said Manuel.
Interface continued to keep in touch with Investment Solver to make them aware of additional opportunities that existed within the universities and possible research funding grants.
Connections with the company were enhanced when Dr Rossi drew upon the expertise of his colleague, Dr Raffaella Calabrese. She was conducting research to investigate models that integrate socio economic indicators to model and estimate property valuations in a given area while Manuel was looking to build an application to automatically calculate a customer’s financial situation. Together, they were awarded funding via The Data Lab to part fund an industrial doctorate to analyse data such as banking data and user data and preferences, to develop a system which will offer a long term financial plan for the user. This financial plan, which will include advice on savings and spending, will automatically be adapted to changes in markets and/or other user related data. The PHD student is being supervised by both Dr Miguel Carvalho (School of Mathematics) and Dr Raffaella Calabrese (Business School) who quotes:
“It was great to see how this collaboration developed from student project to a research collaboration with the benefit of seeing how our research directly impacts the company, helping them to develop and enhance their offering.
Together, this project helps address financial inclusion and financial well-being in society by developing an affordability model to help people to find out how much they can comfortably save.”
As part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, over £11k was awarded by the Data-Driven Innovation Programme (DDI) to the University of Edinburgh Business School in collaboration with Investment Solver. The aim of this project was to support vulnerable people to identify the benefits that they were entitled to and to provide short term affordable lending to bridge the gap that would be repaid once the individuals received their benefits. DDI would support lenders in making such decisions by providing a credit application check that would take into account the amount of benefits that the applicant was entitled to receive.
This would be achieved by developing and applying the Inbest Benefits calculator that uses individuals’ banking data to calculate the income benefits users can claim and monitors their entitlement according to changes in their financial situation.
Established in 1991, Investors in People Scotland aims to help organisations and their employees make the most of their abilities.
The company vision is to help transform performance and productivity in Scotland by encouraging, enabling and recognising the use of the Investors in People methodology to improve the way in which people are led, managed and developed.
This way, organisations can become more effective, productive and competitive helping to grow the economy.
The Business Challenge:
The company was looking to commission independent research to assess the impact that Investors in People Scotland have on the range of organisations which they work with and the ways in which their activities contribute to the strategic objectives of the Scottish Government through Scotland’s Economic Strategy (2015) and the National Outcomes.
The Interface Solution:
Investors in People Scotland approached Interface directly, to seek help in finding an academic partner to undertake the research.
The Interface team worked with them to develop a project brief which then was sent on to a range of universities and research institutions across Scotland. After speaking to three eminent social science groups, the company chose to work with Andrea Glass from the Training and Employment Research Unit (TERU) at the University of Glasgow.
The Training and Employment Research Unit (TERU) is a multi-disciplinary centre for applied economic and social research, driven by a desire to offer practical solutions to the challenges faced by policy makers, practitioners, individuals and communities. This unit undertakes research and evaluation work and delivers specialist training for a wide range of clients across the UK.
This research focused on how and why organisations became involved with Investors in People Scotland as well as the impact and overall value it has had on the organisation.
This led to a new research opportunity reviewing the impact and value of Investors in Young People.
Once again, thanks to Interface matchmaking service and having well-established access to all world-class academic expertise, the team completed a comprehensive search and managed to quickly identify the best academic match from across all disciplines.
Through both desk-based research and in-depth interviews, this project highlighted the market potential for Investors in Young People as well as the potential barriers to engagement and the possible routes to market through businesses and partners. This provided invaluable independent research and analysis to support future approaches to increase the reach and impact of the Investors in Young People accreditation beyond the pilot phase.
Peter Russian, Chief Executive at Investors in People Scotland, said:
“Interface provided an invaluable resource in helping us to quickly engage with high quality expertise in three of Scotland’s leading universities. Working to a tight timescale we were able to commission a large research project which has been fundamental to confirming the value and impact of Investors in People”.
Andrea Glass, Depute Director of the Training and Employment Research Unit (TERU) added:
“Building on the very positive Year One review of Investors in Young People, TERU worked closely with Investors in People Scotland to provide an overview of youth employment policy, the youth labour market and an assessment of the employer marketplace to provide in-depth understanding of the operating context.
Drawing on TERU’s networks and expertise, the organisations that support young people to secure, sustain and progress employment were identified and assessed as potential key players in the roll out of Investors in Young People going forward.
This research offered an opportunity to build on the Training and Employment Research Unit’s (TERU) extensive portfolio of work to support the design, development and implementation of policy to address youth unemployment in Scotland. Working closely with Investors in People Scotland was a very positive experience and allowed TERU to develop a comprehensive evidence base to help guide the future approach to increase the reach and impact of Investors in Young People”.