Halo Investing has grown so much over the past five years. Before, it was three people sitting in a room trying to figure out how to provide access to structured note investments once available only for the ultra-wealthy.
Today, our mission has expanded to become a comprehensive protective investing platform. The growth in talented team members has only been matched by the energy Halo has taken to expand globally.
We are experiencing a unique time in the markets when low interest rates and volatility make it difficult to find sources of income or growth. The state of retirement savings is in flux and many investors don’t have the tools to protect their portfolios through such challenging times.
There is still a long-term need of staying invested in the markets with a proactive, longer-term approach.
Fear of portfolio loss during the transition into retirement is also a particularly important phase for many investors. It's estimated more than 10,000 people in the U.S. will turn 65 each day up until the year 2030, according to Pew Research.
This creates a massive need for protective investments when investors demand tailored solutions to fit their personal situation.
Of course, as we try solving these big problems - guidance and experience can only help when building solutions.
That’s why we’re so excited to announce Jack Selby joining Halo Investing’s Advisory Board.
Jack’s background as a technology and finance entrepreneur will give Halo a unique perspective in the consumer-facing financial technology market.
Upcoming key initiatives like direct to consumer will further challenge Halo to create a service that can work for every person preparing for and during retirement.
Jack’s experience as an original founding member of the PayPal team has made him a leading figure in Silicon Valley and an expert in global technology growth. He is currently Managing Director of Peter Thiel’s family office, Thiel Capital.
As an active technology investor and advisor, Jack is involved with companies such as SpaceX, Palantir, Affirm, Blend, Bird, Group Nine Media, Paradox AI, Q Bio, Openspace, FreedomPay, et al.
In the world of consumer facing technology, a well thought out strategy is essential. Adding Jack’s experience and vision will only build on the momentum of Halo’s ambitious goals.
To welcome our new Advisor, Halo did a virtual Q&A to discuss building, running and investing in global technology businesses.
Welcome Jack, we’re excited to have you on our Advisory Board! Given your storied experience working with technology companies across the globe, why did you decide to jump aboard as an Advisor with Halo?
Halo has found a unique place in financial services that is one of the last areas to be disrupted - structured notes, and broadly the defined-outcome investing space. Halo has found a market that is primarily offline, manual and time consuming to transact, and built a technology platform that facilitates a better transaction process. There is a dramatic need by both investors and financial issuers to take this market online creating a more liquid, transparent and efficient market.
I also have an appreciation and respect for Halo’s vision and how they see the world very differently than a company approaching the problem from a traditional banking background.
Big problems are typically solved by people who see those problems with a different lens and turn the market on its head in every conceivable way. That was what we achieved at PayPal and what our team went onto to achieve at Tesla, YouTube, LinkedIn, Yelp and many other world changing companies. I believe Halo has that same opportunity. It all starts with a relentless passion to change the world, and the Halo team certainly has that.
What is the one thing you look for in a company that gives you a reason to invest your time and/or capital?
The connection between the buy-side and sell-side in a marketplace is very important. Take eBay for example, some kind of interaction between buyers and sellers creates a flourishing and more successful market. This also leads to an even more exciting concept to me: network effects.
Very rarely with a marketplace tool like Halo’s, does it appeal to both the buyer (investors) and seller (issuing bank). There are plenty of financial technologies that appeal to one or the other, many quite successful, but the unique nature of Halo that connects both is highly interesting to me.
With a multi-sided platform like Halo, the search costs for buyers and customer distribution costs for sellers lowers dramatically creating a more efficient market. As more supply and demand converge upon the investment options Halo offers, this creates a more defensible network.
Prior to Halo, and even still today, the process of creating, finding, purchasing and managing structured notes is time-intensive and takes days from start to finish. Halo has built the technology that takes this trade time from days to potentially minutes, facilitating vastly more availability for both investors and issuers.
The ability to extend into different products with this same approach to creating valuable marketplaces makes this even more interesting. Demand in the market for a technology solution like this is high, and also attractive to me at the same time.
What do you think it takes to be successful in the direct to consumer space?
The financial services industry for consumers has challenges—many of which we faced with growing PayPal. For example, figuring out what to charge, and also a clear focus on fraud-prevention and security is critical.
There’s a give and take between acquiring customers in hopes of scaling (many times unprofitably at first) and focusing on growing revenue through sustainable margins. If the balance isn’t met, either the business can’t find profitability, margins aren’t maintainable, or, all the customers leave because they won’t pay.
At the end of the day, a company needs to have the legitimacy to be able to handle people’s money and savings. This is the security aspect, and trust is critical, in any financial services offering for consumers. Being a good corporate steward for customers is one of the most important aspects of success in the financial services space.
What are some major challenges you expect Halo is likely to face as a fast growing company?
Most important is an eye towards regulatory scrutiny, especially in the investment world. We faced the same challenges at PayPal since we were growing so quickly and were handling peoples’ money through millions of transactions.
This is often an underappreciated challenge that growing companies face.
Ultimately, what do you think will drive the success of Halo as a solution for protective investments?
I appreciate that Halo allows customers to find and create investments that meet their needs. The suite of products - structured notes, buffered ETFs, and soon annuities - have been largely misunderstood, inaccessible or lacking transparency.
Defined outcome investments - products that provide a level of protection with clear return expectations over a specific time period - have been largely unavailable or confusing to most investors.
From my investing background and managing a macro hedge fund, this is a huge advantage for investors. The unpredictability of the markets, minute-by-minute headlines, central bank intervention, etc. all affect investment performance which is challenging, to say the least.
These types of products, including structured notes, had minimums of up to $1 million which made them inaccessible to anyone other than the ultra-wealthy. Making protective investment products with defined outcomes more accessible to investors can help with longer-term financial success. The importance of education and analytics is also a key component of Halo which can help investors make more informed decisions.
Personally, what I believe and what Halo strongly believes is that the many benefits of structured products should be available to all investors. This includes those simply saving for retirement, parents looking to put their kids through college, or for someone with a risk-tolerance between that of stocks and bonds.
This is the protective value of defined outcomes and the truly unique value Halo offers that I believe will drive its success and change the way the world invests.