CEO Series: John Winters on seizing the investment opportunity in the US

HOSTS Alec Renehan & Bryce Leske|15 July, 2021

Meet your hosts

  • Alec Renehan

    Alec developed an interest in investing after realising he was spending all that he was earning. Investing became his form of 'forced saving'. While his first investment, Slater and Gordon (SGH), was a resounding failure, he learnt a lot from that experience. He hopes to share those lessons amongst others through the podcast and help people realise that if he can make money investing, anyone can.
  • Bryce Leske

    Bryce has had an interest in the stock market since his parents encouraged him to save 50c a fortnight from the age of 5. Once he had saved $500 he bought his first stock - BKI - a Listed Investment Company (LIC), and since then hasn't stopped. He hopes that Equity Mates can help make investing understandable and accessible. He loves the Essendon Football Club, and lives in Sydney.

John is the co-founder and CEO of Superhero, an online broker offering Australian’s the lowest cost access to the Australian market and now the US stock market as well. Before co-founding Superhero, John was a stockbroker and private wealth manager at Shaw & Partners.

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The hosts of Equity Mates Investing Podcast are not financial professionals and are not aware of your personal financial circumstances. Equity Mates Media does not operate under an Australian financial services licence and relies on the exemption available under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) in respect of any information or advice given.

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In the spirit of reconciliation, Equity Mates Media and the hosts of Equity Mates Investing Podcast acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today.

Bryce: [00:00:35] Welcome to another episode of Equity Mates, a podcast that follows our journey of investing, whether you're an absolute beginner or approaching Warren Buffett status, our aim is to help break down your barriers from beginning to dividend. My name is Bryce and as always, I'm joined by my equity buddy Ren. How's it going? [00:00:51][15.3]

Alec: [00:00:51] I am very good. Bryce very excited for this interview. Well, loving the opportunity to speak to some of the biggest and best CEOs from from Australia and around the world. And we've got a CEO who we've had on the show before, but he just keeps building and building. So we thought we had to get him back to talk about the company that has really come from nothing to something that probably everyone in the Equity Mates community knows about in just a couple of years. [00:01:19][27.7]

Bryce: [00:01:20] That's right. It is our pleasure to welcome back John Winters' from Superhero. John, welcome. [00:01:24][4.1]

John: [00:01:24] Thanks, guys. Thanks for the intro. Well, it hasn't even been a couple of years yet. It's not even been one. [00:01:29][4.8]

Alec: [00:01:30] So pretty exciting. You guys [00:01:32][2.6]

John: [00:01:33] know something? Yeah. [00:01:33][0.4]

Bryce: [00:01:35] So for those of you who haven't come across John before, he's the co-founder and CEO of Superhero, an online broker offering Australians the lowest cost access to the Aussie market and now the US stock market as well, which we will dig into before cofounding super hero John was a stockbroker and private wealth manager at Shaw and Partners and Macquarie. So plenty of experience, but we're interested in the entrepreneurship side and and what you're building, John. So we're going to focus on that aspect in this interview today. [00:02:07][31.6]

Alec: [00:02:08] John, we always like to start these CEOs series by hearing the company leader describe their company in their own words. Now, for people who haven't heard our previous interview or seen a bus, tram or train in Australia in the last six months, can you tell us what superhero is in your own words? [00:02:29][21.3]

John: [00:02:30] Yeah, sure. So just a just a bit of background. So, yeah, I've been in stockbroking wealth management for about the last 15 years and really saw some of the some of the issues in that industry and how hard it was for for people who wanted to start investing. So that's what drove the birth of superhero. And to give you a quick overview of what we are. I'll give you the sort of the extended elevator pitch. We are an online investment platform. We we deal in Aussie and now US shares, and we're really trying to make investing accessible to everyone. So it's often been very hard to to even get started investing. So knowing where to go, knowing even how to set up an account before you've bought any shares or when you're looking to make your first investment, what to what to actually invest in. So we want to bridge that gap. We're trying to make it accessible, understandable and of course, affordable for everyone in Australia. [00:03:24][54.8]

Bryce: [00:03:25] So there's plenty of players in the broker space now. And it feels like almost every month there's a new player coming to town. So it's certainly becoming crowded here. Why, I guess try and enter this market. What is it that superhero does differently or how do you try and differentiate yourself between what seems like a pretty crowded market at the moment? [00:03:46][20.1]

John: [00:03:46] Yeah, so we launched in September last year. And so it has been a pretty, pretty short journey so far. But when we look back at September, when we when we launched to to the to the Aussie market, there were the big banks. Then there are a couple of other smaller second tier broking houses online online trading firms. And we felt like none of them were really solving the problem in the market. So you've got the big banks that are charging at least twenty point ETrade. There's a couple of others around that that are doing slightly less than that. But it really looked like in terms of a user experience, it was sort of a spreadsheet that had migrated onto a website that had been iterated over time. So it really didn't take this this tech first millennial sort of user experience that we've seen in so many other markets, whether whether it's, you know, watching TV, whether it's getting a getting a car to the airport or something. We hadn't seen that level of user experience brought into the investment world in Australia. So we've been trying to bridge that gap. That's that's one of the key differences that we saw in the market. But over the last over the last few months, we have seen a lot of competition come into the space. I do feel like people are doing it as a as a bit of a we're going to try and dabble in this and we'll see how it goes. They're not super focused on a single mission. So, yeah, there are a whole bunch of people coming out that you can you know, you can buy us shares or you can you can trade Aussie shares. But I think it's that key point of difference. This is what we live and breathe every day. We are the cheapest, which is pretty proud thing to say, like we are the cheapest in Australia when it comes to Aussie share trade. Flat five point four Aussie shares, Aussie eats, zero brokerage to buy. No one else is doing that. That's that's, you know, pretty, pretty cool achievement that myself on that. But but when we look at us like like the world, the world has it's been a race to the bottom when it comes to face. And the US is at zero. And, you know, that's the expectation, particularly on the US market. So we've been able to bring zero to market as well. But what's important is we've got one of the lowest effects, transfer rates, and we can get into that little bit, a little bit more. But transferring funds from Aussie dollars to US dollars is obviously a critical component. So we allow you to do that at a very low cost, but also in real time, which no one else has really done. So it's always been three to five days. You fund your account. So you sort of you're waiting a few days until you get your cash before you can before you can invest. You know, you can you could be sitting at home on a Thursday night watching the AFL and see our ad on TV, sign up for an account, put money in your account, transfer into US dollars and buy Apple in about three minutes before the US market opens for the night. Yet, which I think is pretty cool. [00:06:43][176.7]

Alec: [00:06:43] Yeah, it is pretty incredible. And I mean, you launched in September and the growth journey has been pretty incredible as well. From a feature point of view. You know, us trading, you've reduced the cost zero dollar ETFs, but also just in terms of the growth of the business. You know, we remember the last time we spoke, you're in a smaller office and now you can say your background in a much bigger, shinier office. You know, we'd love to hear that story, what it's been like, scaling the business, scaling the team, scaling the infrastructure to keep up with that pretty incredible growth rate. [00:07:18][34.4]

John: [00:07:18] Looking back at last year, which was pretty, pretty big roller coaster year for, I'd say everyone globally. I think it was middle of the year. We had we had six employees, which was up from three in sort of March, April. So we sort of doubled to six in September. When we launched, I think we had about 10 and in and we and we moved office in September, the same month we launched. We moved office because we ran out of space in December. We had 19 and in February had to move office again because we ran out of space. We've got 35 people in the business now, the office we moved into in February, but in no way this way, the growing too quickly or we can't plan very well. We now we've now run out of space again. Thankfully, there's more space in the building. So we're going to move to a bigger floor. But yeah, just in terms of like in terms of headcount, it's it's been a pretty wild journey. And, you know, one of the big parts of building building a business is is keeping culture, you know, the team culture alive. And and, you know, it's a pretty proud thing to say that that everyone loves coming to work every day. And that's not me saying it. That's other people. You know, we'll sit in on interviews and people will ask about culture and people who work who work for superheros. John, I'll answer this one and that. And they say, look, we love coming to work. It's an awesome place to work. We're so pretty proud of that. So, yeah, in terms of scaling, you know, staff is obviously a massive piece. But then when we look at all of the you know, there's so many parts to that. You know, there's all the systems when you when you place a trade and you trade goes through, you get a text message. You know, we're spending hundreds of thousands of text messages every every month. So you think about all the flow on effects that we're having, you know, whether it's our servers, whether it's text messages, whether it's email. So there's there's hundreds of thousands and millions of different communications going out every month. And we kind of haven't really scratched the surface yet. So, yeah, it's pretty interesting to see that. But when it comes to our customers, that's where it gets really exciting. So, you know, we're creeping up to it towards 100000 people on the platform now, which is just phenomenal. When we started live testing in August last year, they were like five or six of us and we did like three trades in a day, like, yeah, three trades yesterday was up to and now there's, you know, now there's thousands a day. So, yeah. Seeing seeing so many people jump on board. The adoption rate is, is. Yeah. It's, it's real sort of pinch me moment when when we look back at it, but also just you know, standing around the office, I said to, to Wayne, my co-founder, look how many people there are the people here. It's it's it's crazy. There's so many people and you know, they love it and, you know, live and breathe, you know, the brand. And, you know, they're serving our customers every day, you know, with the with a whole heart. It's pretty, pretty exotic. [00:10:19][180.6]

Bryce: [00:10:20] I've got a couple of questions on people and culture that I want to touch on in a little bit. But let's turn our attention to the US trading side of things. So you have just announced the big platform update US shares. Available. Do you know, I mean, we spoke to one of the major Australian exchanges and they weren't as confident that many Australians were actually interested in investing in the US and what we're actually doing that particularly with an a millennial focus on your side of things from your, I guess, customers. Do you know how many people are investing in US shares at the moment? [00:10:57][37.4]

John: [00:10:58] There wouldn't be any bias in that major Australian exchange suggesting that, would they? Yeah, look, it's a good question. We actually did some research recently and it said about 17 per cent of Aussies are currently invested in overseas investments. So, you know, which includes US shares. I think the thing the thing about us, if we just if we just look at US shares in particular, the the barriers to entry have been so high for so long. So when I was a stockbroker, setting up a US account was a nightmare. The fees were exorbitant to to be able to transfer shares in and out. It was just hard. Effect's was hard and particularly in the in the broker or the advice space. A lot of advisors will not give advice on on US shares. So you naturally just default back to Aussie. And if you look at the split of of Aussie versus US equities in a typical portfolio, in a typical advised portfolio, it's about 80-20 as a general rule, and the 20 per cent is typically, you know, brought about by international ETFs and things. And that's just because there's a barrier gap like a barrier of entry, but also a knowledge gap at the advisor level that flows down to the individual customer. So when when we look at when we look at the market, I think, you know, we've got two and a half thousand Aussie shares in ETFs on the platform. We just added four and a half thousand. So now the 7000 different investment opportunities, you sort of get decision paralysis. Look, the first night that we saw that that we had it going, I put some money in and look what I invest in. [00:12:40][102.5]

Bryce: [00:12:41] What's the S&P 500? Yeah. [00:12:44][2.3]

John: [00:12:45] Yeah. You know, you sort of got the top ones, which, you know, the favorites on our platform and sort of in the market. You know, you've got Apple, you've got Tesla, you got Amazon alphabet. You've got sort of the fang stocks which which, you know, the sort of the go to. But outside of those, there's a lot of household brands. But people don't really think of those as an investment opportunity, like, is Nike a good investment? Is Invidia a good? So there is a knowledge gap on that space. But I think that is and we're working on that as well, is if we can close that knowledge gap, people will be much more informed. And I think there'll be higher demand. But certainly in the early stages, the the interest and the the use of us on our platform. Yeah. It's been has been pretty overwhelming. Mhm. [00:13:31][46.5]

Alec: [00:13:32] Yeah. I mean this, this might, this might be a bit of a softball question because Bryce and I, you know, we are strong believers in international investing, but I'm going to ask you it anyway because we love the I guess the opportunity to invest outside Australia. But like why why would an investor I think, be on the ASX? Why would they want to invest in the US? [00:13:55][22.5]

John: [00:13:56] Why would they? I think I think when you look at the Aussie market, it's pretty small. Like Apple as a market cap is bigger than our entire market here. [00:14:05][9.8]

Alec: [00:14:07] It does, [00:14:07][0.3]

John: [00:14:08] but that's yeah, it's the entire ASX. So I think I think when you look at the opportunity in particularly in the US and some and some people say, oh, what about this market? What about that market? I think if you want global exposure, you can pretty much get everything you need on the US market. So whether it's going into the Chinese, you know, tech majors, most of them are listed in the states. So, you know, I think I think that that looking abroad gives people so much more choice. It gives you exposure to so much more. We do have a very small market here. And while there's great companies, you know, you've got the big banks that pay dividends. You've got, you know, the big mining stocks. But we don't have a huge tech exposure, a global tech exposure. There's so much in retail that we just don't have exposure to. You know, you think of some of the luxury brands that are going off in China. You know, you want to sort of jump on board. You know, here we've got Kogan and Temple and Webster. What about all of these other luxury brands and things that you can invest in in the state? So not to say Kogan and and Tamplin website are a bad investment decisions, but it's just opening up the opportunities to so much more that we don't have purely through the ASX. [00:15:18][69.8]

Alec: [00:15:19] Hmm. [00:15:19][0.0]

Bryce: [00:15:21] So we've obviously seen the outcome of what you've done. You know you know, you now offer us trading on the platform, but we love to hear the inside story. We're here to talk about, you know, entrepreneurship and you is leading the company through the process. So what was the process like? I guess engaging Aussie regulators, the regulators in the US and actually getting the four and a half thousand stocks on? Because correct me if I'm wrong, but there are also plenty more stocks available in the States. So how did you come to actually getting this going? [00:15:52][31.9]

John: [00:15:53] Yeah, so I guess the Aussie regulation piece is is a really important one. We are regulated by ASIC and and we have to make, you know, all of the rules and regulations here in Australia when when we look to the to the US, I think one of the key things around the the number of shares that we that we offer is not so much a regulatory side. It's not a regulatory matter. It's more of a availability and tech question. So the four and a half thousand shares that we offer, we offer fractional investing on. And not all stocks in the states allow fractional. So, you know, if you wanted to buy Apple, it's, you know, one hundred and forty five dollars, correct me, or thereabouts some something around that. Right. If you want to invest 100 bucks, you could buy 100 Dollars with Apple. So you'd buy a fraction of a share. But there's some you know, Amazon is in the three thousands. If you want to buy 100 Dollars with Amazon, you could where there's some stocks that don't have that fractional. So you'd only be able to buy one unit. So if we turned that on, we'd be able to offer significantly more. A lot of those securities are low priced securities. They're the, you know, the pink sheets that, you know, we've heard about in movies and things. Yeah. Which which do come with additional risk from a regulatory point of view. They come with additional cost as well. And, you know, some of those some of those are over the counter. So they're they're more sort of tricky to manage through through a platform. And what we see is we really see demand for, you know, the top five to 10 stocks in the S&P 500 rather than the real sort of tail end of companies. [00:17:38][104.7]

Alec: [00:17:39] Do you offer fractional ownership of Berkshire Hathaway CLOs? [00:17:42][3.1]

John: [00:17:42] I know we don't. So that's that's a good example. Right. So they don't that that's not a fractional stock. It's Class B that is so which I think is about to 90 or 300 US Dollars. So you could buy a fractional portion of that. You've got to you've got to stump up the 450 fifty grand or whatever [00:18:01][18.4]

Alec: [00:18:02] the class size. It's the price of a house to buy one class I share. I know [00:18:07][4.8]

John: [00:18:07] it's crazy. [00:18:07][0.2]

Bryce: [00:18:08] Keep saving. [00:18:08][0.4]

Alec: [00:18:10] Well, you've obviously, you know, you've got us trading now, you've had ASX going for about nine months. You've got a treasure trove of data on how like what Aussies are buying, what they're selling both here and in the US. So we'd love to, I guess, get some insight for us in the Equity Mates listeners. So maybe if we start at the top, what have been some of the most bought stocks in Australia, in the US? What's what's really popular right now? [00:18:39][28.2]

Bryce: [00:18:39] I reckon we could name all ten. [00:18:40][1.3]

Alec: [00:18:41] Do you reckon you could. I reckon I [00:18:44][2.9]

John: [00:18:44] reckon you could as well. Yeah. I mean, they're not quite meem stocks in Australia, but certainly [00:18:49][5.3]

Alec: [00:18:50] you have GameStop on your platform [00:18:51][1.1]

John: [00:18:52] for us. Yeah. [00:18:53][1.3]

Alec: [00:18:53] Oh, they got about [00:18:54][0.8]

John: [00:18:54] 100 bucks worth just as the time I was going to have some. And I am say, looking at the Aussie, looking at the Aussies, ZIP has been the number one standout from the beginning. You know, I think it just really resonates with people. And Afterpay is a close second. So these are the guys that have built such a massive sort of customer following you, sort of it's almost like these cult followings that they've built. So people people use their their payment products every day and it's flowed through into the market as well. You know, they've built massive customer bases both in Australia and globally. And the share price has been on a tear pretty much since when they listed. So, yeah, zip in Afterpay. It'd probably be the two most bought stocks since we since we started. Brain chip has been a big one as well. And then and then looking at some of the sort of the bigger cap flight center, Qantas, Fortescue have been sort of some of the other big ACAP and and even recently like FLATLANDER and Qantas have been pretty popular, which is interesting given that given the lockdown's in pretty much every state in the last few weeks [00:20:09][74.5]

Alec: [00:20:09] and months, probably shows that long term investing message is getting through. [00:20:14][4.6]

John: [00:20:14] Yeah, and I think people people are aware that things don't last forever. So, you know, what we saw in March last year with the market tanking and even what we saw during the GFC, like the markets bounced back pretty quickly. So I think people are sort of buying they're buying the dip when it comes to those guys. When when we look at ETFs and if you look sort of broadly, it is tech that people people want exposure to. It's just staunchly tech. So Asia Tech is very popular. So Baidu shares Asia Tech. Tiggers ETF has been the number one ETF bought on the platform that gives you exposure to jadi dot com, to Alibaba, to Tencent. You know, some of the big which is still household names like everyone seems to know. You may not know what their business model is, but you've probably heard the name before. And that and that has been a great performer even recently with some of the volatility in some of those underlying names. Aussie share, the Vanguard Aussie Shares Index and Nasdaq and the Nasdaq 100 index. They've also been standouts. And what's been really interesting is some of the investor behavior is people are coming on and they're buying. They typically buy Asia Endi Q and Vyas, the Vanguard Aussie Share Index ETF as their core kind of portfolio. So they're setting up this like global core of the biggest Aussie shares and tech names that that there are. And then they're sort of supplementing that with a bit. Is it bit Afterpay a bit of a bit of, you know, a few few others as sort of their higher growth opportunities? [00:21:57][102.8]

Bryce: [00:21:58] Well, it's good to know that everyone's been listening to Equity Mates then, because that's exactly what we talk about on the show, going global, going global, setting up your core, playing around with a bit of a satellite approach. So, yeah, I mean, there's no doubt we've done a lot of content recently on Asia as well. So I'm not surprised that you're seeing that reflected through the trades that are being made. [00:22:19][20.9]

Alec: [00:22:20] So basically, Bryce is just trying to claim credit for everything. Now, Bryce has said he reckons you can pick the top traded U.S. share. So I think we should put him on the spot before you before you tell us. [00:22:31][11.6]

John: [00:22:31] I mentioned them earlier. So let's see if he's got a good memory as well. Let's say go on. [00:22:35][4.0]

Alec: [00:22:36] Oh, has he been listening? That's an even better question. What do you reckon? It's been Bryce. [00:22:41][5.4]

Bryce: [00:22:42] Oh, so we can't go past Apple. Amazon? [00:22:44][2.1]

Alec: [00:22:45] No, no. Just talk one. [00:22:45][1.0]

Bryce: [00:22:46] Oh, I'm out for us. It would be ah it'd be Apple. [00:22:51][4.5]

John: [00:22:52] Yep. Stand up is your right. Yeah. Amazon is Amazon's on in the top ten but it's pretty far down the list. It is early days really. But yeah Apple. Apple is sort of the go to. Tesla is a as the as number two, which is an interesting one, you know, there's a there's a lot of demand for ESG investing for and certainly on the electrification theme, it's sort of the it's the when you think of how do you invest in electric cars and the sort of the future of electric cars. Yeah, pretty much ask anyone, OK, Tesla, and and they'd be stumped for a second for a second opinion, say Tesla's Tesla's number too closely, closely after after Apple. [00:23:38][46.4]

Bryce: [00:23:39] Usually the second is some obscure lithium miner in Western Australia. [00:23:42][3.3]

John: [00:23:44] Well, AC DC is one of the top eats on the Aussie market. And, you know, while that is it's battery tech, the biggest holdings in that is is the Aussie lithium miners. So there's a whole bunch of miners in there. [00:23:58][14.7]

Bryce: [00:23:59] Is there any other sort of surprising data that's starting to flow through from what you're seeing on your end? You know, we're also hearing a lot about the inflation and, you know, the potential for inflation at the moment. Are you seeing sort of any superheroes investing on that trend [00:24:15][16.3]

Bryce: [00:24:17] or is it just tech Asia? [00:24:18][1.6]

John: [00:24:19] Let's do it. We saw the whole inflation trade sort of gripped the market mid-June and the market pulled back a fair bit. But it didn't last. It didn't last very long. We sort of bounced back and the market's back it back at its highs. So I don't I don't think the inflation sort of trade is really a running theme. We did see over those few days, we did see a a higher amount of net buying into some of the bigger names like CBA, Fortescue, you know, some of the the big blue chips. But, yeah, it's really people just want to invest. We always say that invest in what you're invested in. And it's, you know, it's you've got an iPhone, you kind of get Apple. You know, everyone knows the brand. You're invested emotionally in their brand if you use one of their products. Same with Amazon, same with Afterpay, same with Zipp. So it just happens that that some of the biggest consumer brands in the world are tech tech focused. So, yeah, people people, particularly our age, they do want exposure to that. And they've been they've been awesome performers over the years. [00:25:30][70.3]

Alec: [00:25:30] So talking about investing in what you're invested in it say if that's the case, then Australians are very invested in the by now a sector given that they're the two most popular in Australia, opening up US shares means you open up a whole well, maybe not a whole lot more by now Piloto companies, but a few. PayPal is obviously unlisted and also affirm the the US by now pilade a competitor to Afterpay and Zip Aussie investors jumping on the US by now Bilitis stocks as well. [00:26:03][32.7]

John: [00:26:03] I was on the list. I haven't seen a firm. I think the AFIRM business model is a little bit different. They actually started at a similar time to zip in Afterpay in the States. I think in the early days they actually had the same sort of brand colors as well to Zippos. It was an interesting one, but they do have a difference. They do have a different business model. They they listed with a lot of fanfare and then pulled back pretty, pretty hard. I think when you look at it by now, Pelada, though, globally, there's a firm would certainly be up there in the US. But you've got Klina as the big as the big unlisted one. You've got Afterpay pay in the States, which is owned by ZIP and then AFIRM. So yeah, there's probably for there. PayPal has made a lot of noise about going into the space they haven't really made. It made a dent yet, but they do have a massive footprint with all the merchants and a huge amount of customers. So it'll be interesting to see how that plays out there on the list. But I think when you think about an hour later and the leaders that sort of zip and Afterpay, whether you're in the States, in the UK or in Australia, [00:27:10][66.1]

Alec: [00:27:11] you've got to say that from Australia really punching above our weight. [00:27:13][2.6]

Bryce: [00:27:14] So America, the US have the fang stocks, the Aussies have the wax stocks, Afterpay of which we've spoken about enough and is very popular. But what are you seeing on your end in terms of the wise text app and the zero? You know, all pretty good tech companies, great stories here in Australia, but, you know, not necessarily as as popular as as tech stocks, I guess. Is that kind of coming through on your end? [00:27:41][27.0]

John: [00:27:41] Yeah, I think I think that the thing about the the whack stocks is they're not all consumer driven companies, so you don't have that sort of consumer affiliation to it. Look, wise tech, how many of us use wise tech on a daily basis? Right. That's that that's the thing. I think there's there's a certain amount of sexiness to to these consumer tech stocks. You know, everyone wants the latest iPhone. You want the latest tech. You want the latest product. You want, you know, and you want to pay it off over time. So, so so, yeah, I think that's that's what's missing from some of those B2B players. So they do have I think I think the one exception to that is probably zero. But they've been they've built an. Unbelievable customer base, their growth has been massive over a long period of time, that the real B2B guys, I think they are sort of missing that that to, you know, flair. [00:28:36][55.1]

Alec: [00:28:37] Well, Bryce keeps saying he wants to get into training AI and machine learning algorithms, so we might use up in one day. But but until then, until he learns to code, I can say that. So so another key focus of the Equity Mates community, and I imagine superhero users is climate change, investing, ESG and sustainability. We've seen beta shares and Vanik come out with new products recently in the ETF space. Are they popular? And I guess is investing generally popular from the superhero community? [00:29:14][36.3]

John: [00:29:14] It is, and I think it's a growing trend. You know, people want to be able to invest with a with a clear conscience. And there's there's definitely a growing way to do that. So some of the some of the ethical investing ETFs, green energy, even some of the sort of the the ethical adjacent. Names like AC, DC, the battery tech ones like these are these are all very popular on the platform, but it's quite interesting when you scratch beneath the surface, you know, people, people, I think, you know, they sort of attracted to the ethical name, but a lot of people wouldn't understand what the actual underlying businesses are. So if you look at, say, the beta shares Global Sustainability ETF, you look at the list, it's actually a list of the biggest US tech stocks. It's which is pretty interesting because it's those guys who are who are making a lot of headway when it comes to, you know, using clean energy to power their data centers and and using using a whole range of different approaches when it comes to, you know, running their businesses in a sustainable way, corporate governance. And, you know, ESG investing is not just about planting trees and keeping carbon emissions low. There's a whole range of different factors that go into it. So there's there's definitely a rising trend. When we look at AC DC as an ETF that I mentioned earlier, it's battery tech. So it's going into the electrification theme, going into electric cars. But a whole bunch of those underlying investments are lithium miners. So it's it's a really interesting sort of concept when people are thinking about ethical investing. You know what? It's what does that actually mean and what does it mean to you? I think that's that's an interesting one to look at. But, yeah, there's certainly a lot of demand and rising demand across the platform and across the industry. [00:31:09][114.4]

Bryce: [00:31:10] It's a question that we're always trying to answer on Equity Mates is what does RSG mean? Because it's so different to every person, really? Like you could look at Apple and think that it's one of the most unethical companies in the world. Or you could look at it and think it's doing absolutely everything possible to to be an astute company. [00:31:29][19.2]

John: [00:31:29] So and like Fortescue, Fortescue wants to go to zero emissions. Yeah. Yeah. But they're digging dirt out of the ground, which is quite an interesting one. Like, how do you sort of deal with that? If you're if you're if you're looking for a really ethical investment and you sort of [00:31:42][12.5]

Bryce: [00:31:43] this is the issue. You're a conundrum. Yeah, it's the conundrum. [00:31:46][3.1]

Alec: [00:31:47] Yeah. Well, I think I think the best example of that is Tesla, who most people would associate it with everything good about sustainability and move to electric vehicles. But Beta shares just took them out of their global ethical fund. [00:31:59][12.5]

John: [00:32:00] Well, at the end of the day, the cars are made of their cars are made of metal that's dug out of the ground. The batteries made lithium that's dug out of the ground, you know, and there's a bunch of copper in it. You know, there's all of this stuff. So, yeah, it's a really clean vehicle in terms of emissions from the vehicle. But what what carbon emissions went into sort of building the car. So, yeah, it is a conundrum that I don't I don't think is easily answered. [00:32:24][24.2]

Alec: [00:32:25] But I think I think that's the good thing about learning to invest yourself is you can make those decisions yourself rather than relying on someone else to make them for you. And I think with us trading, you know, you now have a whole other world of companies to choose from and, you know, some of the biggest solar companies and renewable energy utilities and, you know, all of these companies that are working on these big problems are listed in the US. So it just massively opens up your universe in terms of the companies you can look at and the choices you have. [00:32:58][32.7]

Bryce: [00:33:00] So, John, I do want to touch on people in culture. We always have this type of discussion when we're chatting to CEOs and founders. You mentioned at the start that you've gone from three employees in April last year to mismanaging office sizes multiple times and now landing with 36. And I'm sure it's just going to continue to grow in that space of time. You've gone from having to actually manage and lead three people who I imagine would have probably been co-founders as well. And now to a much bigger team. How are you thinking about, like, your leadership style? Do you have a leadership philosophy? Because I imagine, you know, you probably didn't start out at the beginning with a clearly defined leadership method. [00:33:45][45.3]

John: [00:33:46] Yeah, it's it's it's challenging. It's it's like having a really big family, really, really big family. And you've got to give everyone, you know, equal love and attention. So, yeah, it's it's it is challenging. I wouldn't change it for the world, but everyone in the team is is awesome and and just fits their niche in the business. You know, everyone just does their part. I guess my my sort of management style is, you know, I love people to sort of pick up the reins and go, you know, to to run their own race. And and thankfully, everyone is you know, we're all in the canoe and we're all rowing in the same direction, which which, you know, Wayne and I are incredibly proud of. There's there's obviously speed bumps along the way. There's you know, there's 35 different personalities in the business. So it's yet it's it's tough to manage and to match people in teams and things. But, you know, as we grow, we have had to and it's hard to it's hard to delegate as well because, you know, you go from having, you know, just a handful of people and you sort of, you know, should it be that blue or that blue and work sites text and, you know, should should it be on that line or that line? Like the real minutia in the weeds to having to let go of some of that stuff, you know, is hard having to let go some of the, you know, the operational side of things and and have a direct report that's reporting and basically just reporting in issues, you know. So we hope to, you know, have limited communication on in some respects. But, you know, it's hard to sort of delegate those key functions that that, you know, core to the business that that. That I sort of started out doing, but what we've seen is everyone's just sort of, you know, we're all we're all moving in the same direction. You know, everyone comes to work in this superhero t shirt every day and, you know, and wears it on the weekend as well. They just love it. So, yeah, it's just like [00:35:54][127.6]

Bryce: [00:35:54] Ren in his Equity Mates. [00:35:55][0.9]

John: [00:35:58] So, yeah, I kind of feel like if if I'm not wearing my my superhero kit to work, I kind of feel like it's like going to school without uniform on you. Sort of like the odd one out and you feel a bit naked. So yeah. But it's, it's in terms of the team, it's, it's incredibly powerful to see everyone just like band together and and execute with a single vision [00:36:23][25.0]

Bryce: [00:36:24] and just one more like where, where I'm doing this purely from a selfish point of view. But we're going through the process of building our team at Equity Mates. And I'm always fascinated in how you think about hiring, because at such an infant stage of a business, every single hire is incredibly important. You know, if you have 5000 people in an organization, it's it's not as drastic as having hiring your fifth person. So how did you how do you think about that process and make sure that you're getting the best? [00:36:53][28.5]

John: [00:36:53] Yeah. So the first the first the first thing is culture. So you have to be a good fit on a cultural front. You can be the best designer, the best developer, the best compliance person, the best customer service person. But if you if you don't fit the culture of the business, it's going to be damaging to everyone else. So that's the first thing that we do. So every every interview that we do at superheros, a culture interview, it's usually 10, 15 minutes a day. Hi, how you doing? You know, where are you at the moment? Where do you see yourself in the future? Just to get a bit of an understanding who you are, just like have a chat. And once we sort of and you can pick up people sort of attitude pretty quickly. So we we have a rule that culture interview is first and just, you know, get to know each other a little bit before before we move on to, you know, technical skills or past experience and stuff. So, yeah, I'd certainly if if you were asking for advice, I'd certainly say, look, look at culture being the K have a bad egg and it can really spoil things. [00:38:02][68.4]

Bryce: [00:38:02] I guess we'll do out of the pub then. Perfect. [00:38:05][2.4]

Alec: [00:38:07] Bryce Bryce wants to just to be. [00:38:09][2.3]

John: [00:38:10] That's the thing. Right. You have beer with someone and you kind of you get to know who they are. [00:38:14][3.5]

Alec: [00:38:15] So John, what if we do the CEO series interviews, we like to finish with the same final three questions just on the on the future of the business. But before we do, I guess we want to remind everyone Super Hero now has US stocks. So they should you know, if they're not already signed up, they should go and check that out. More than doubled the investable universe with the click of a button zero brokerage, as well as zero brokerage as well. Fractional shares. Time to fix. What more can you ask for maybe European shares? I'm going to put that on the table. [00:38:51][35.1]

John: [00:38:51] You know, you sort of go back to that. You know what what can't you get exposure to through the US and the Aussie market? Yeah, no, no, I get that, but it's like the small little, you know, little Italian bank that's in part of Florence, like it's listed on the main exchange in Italy. You know, I just think [00:39:14][23.3]

Alec: [00:39:16] there are some [00:39:16][0.2]

John: [00:39:17] pretty good companies in Europe. But, you know, I guess what's the what's the demand? If we're seeing out of four and a half thousand U.S. stocks were saying, you know, 60 to 70 percent going into one name. Yeah, it's but yeah, there's definitely demand for everything. It's, you know, does the demand sort of is there a meaningful sort of business behind it to make it worthwhile? [00:39:42][24.8]

Alec: [00:39:43] Well, everyone go to John's Twitter flat is damn. If you are demanding that, do not come to Bryce or not. But John will get into these final three questions. So the first one is, what are the what are the next 12 months look like for superhero as a business? Is there anything in the product, pipeline, anything you're particularly excited about that you can announce on Equity Mates? [00:40:07][24.0]

John: [00:40:07] Yes, I think I think we've we've we're pretty young in the market. So, you know, we've we've just sort of started out over the last nine months or so. So I think building up that Aussie footprint is key. That's that's our sort of core business we've just added in US shares, which is a massive addition. And, you know, we see it as a you know, there's other companies out there that have us just as their single product. That is their business. We've got to plug together in one user interface. So we sort of hold one portfolio now and have, you know, as many companies in it as you want across both markets. So definitely, definitely scaling that up, continuing to build out the the user interface with with further enhancements. We really want it to be a place where you can come and start your investment journey or continue it. So if you're an experienced investor, you probably have an idea of what you want to invest in. But there's a lot of people out there who don't know where to start. They don't know what to invest in. And we want to make that a much easier process for them to identify opportunities in a in a meaningful way, but not a complex, complex way. So it's got to be understandable. So I think that's going to be our core focus. We did launch or we did start superhero for a single purpose, and that was superannuation. So we do have some exciting news coming up about that. It has been in the media a little bit. So we do have super launching as well, which is which is pretty exciting. And we can go. We can go. We should have another chat about that. [00:41:46][98.8]

Bryce: [00:41:48] We should have another chat about that. Now, there's a lot of things to obviously celebrate that superhero at the moment. And congratulations. But when you look at your business, what is the biggest risk you're facing at the moment [00:42:02][13.2]

John: [00:42:02] is the biggest risk? I think I think it goes back to the people side of things. You know, the biggest risk is certainly in our people. You know, they are what what make us and it's really hard in the current environment. It's really hard to find good people. At the same time. We've got we've got to keep good people as well. And thankfully, the team that we've got love being here. I think the other thing is, you know, being being Wayne and I as the founders, there's a key man risk, you know, so so Wayne couldn't I couldn't do this out without my my co-founder hopefully says the same thing about me. Yeah. I think this is just, you know, there's a huge amount of understanding between us, you know, when it comes to the business model, when it comes to the product, when it comes to the vision. Yeah. To to replace that, I would say it would be near impossible. So, yeah, I reckon it's pretty strongly the the people would be the the risk point. [00:43:11][69.1]

Alec: [00:43:13] We should pause for a moment and give Wayne a shout out. We interviewed him in our summer series so people can scroll back in the feed and check that out. Not only is he the co-founder and CTO superhero, but he's also the deputy CEO and CTO at TOPIA. So, yeah, not busy at all. While he's got [00:43:32][19.3]

John: [00:43:32] two full time jobs, I still I still don't know how he does. [00:43:35][3.1]

Alec: [00:43:37] He must be good though, or really Hafize as both of them and he just gets away with it. But John, look, you've only been alive for nine months, but, you know, you're obviously thinking long term with the business. You're encouraging long term investors. If you think 10 years from now and what superhero could be, what does success look like for you? [00:44:04][26.6]

John: [00:44:04] His 10 years is a long time. Yeah, I don't even know what I'm having for dinner tonight. Ten years time. Let's think about it. Look, I think I think we want to we want to continue delivering on what we've we've started out delivering on. We want to we want to build an environment for people to to grow their wealth. And whether that is direct shares, whether that's managing portfolios, whether that's, you know, giving people the ability to to invest in, you know, unknown Italian banks in the European market, you know, whether it's whether it's additional markets, whether it's new geographies, whether it's new products. You know, I think I think we you know, we just want to we just want to grow the business. But really with the customer at the center of it all, just making sure that they can build their wealth. I think our business model is is fortunate that we can we can provide a very low cost product to our customers while still having a sustainable business. And not many people can say that. So we're pretty proud of that. And yeah, I think it's doing more of what we've already done, just at a bigger scale to to make make sure that all of our customers have a meaningful experience over the long term. [00:45:25][80.9]

Bryce: [00:45:26] Well, there's no doubt that you certainly are making markets more accessible for Aussie investors. [00:45:30][4.5]

Bryce: [00:45:31] So congrats. The competition's only getting stronger here in Australia, which is great for us on the consumer side. But we we love seeing the journey and looking forward to seeing how superhero grows over the next 10 years. So. Well, as always, John, I appreciate your time and we look forward to having that chat about superhero. [00:45:49][18.4]

John: [00:45:50] Thanks, guys. Thanks for the support. [00:45:50][0.0]

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