CEO Series: Matt Leibowitz – Building Stake & Managing Gamestop Saga

HOSTS Alec Renehan & Bryce Leske|24 March, 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.

Usually when Matt appears on Equity Mates, he’s talking about stocks in the US. This time though, Bryce and Alec wanted to take a different angle, and explore his entrepreneurial journey building Stake. Matt is very open about the rewards and challenges of growing a start-up, the changing dynamics across the finance industry, and the mayhem of the GameStop saga.

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Bryce Leske: [00:01:26] Welcome to another episode of Equity Man. It's 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 Price and as always, I am joined by my equity buddy Ren. How are you going? [00:01:42][15.1]

Alec Renehan: [00:01:42] I'm very good Bryce, very excited for this episode. We've got a returning favorite, someone that the equity community will be familiar with. Yes, but we're going to be looking at it in a completely different light. [00:01:53][10.9]

Bryce Leske: [00:01:53] We are, yes. Usually. Well, firstly, welcome to the show, Matt Liebowitz. [00:01:57][3.3]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:01:58] Thanks, guys. Thanks for having me. [00:01:59][1.0]

Bryce Leske: [00:01:59] For those of you who haven't heard any of my episodes before, he's the founder and CEO of Stake, the platform that allows Australians to invest in US stocks and that you are one of the pioneers of bringing the U.S. markets to Australia. And that is going to be the theme of today's episode because usually, we have you on to chat about all things stocks over in the US. But this time we're going to be looking at it through the lens of the CEO series and how you've built stake some of them, I guess, your thoughts on the current broker landscape and then also how you're trying to build a stake for the future. So looking forward to it. [00:02:39][39.6]

Alec Renehan: [00:02:39] Yeah. And you say that stake allows Australians to invest in the US markets. We should actually say that stake allows Australians, English people, true Brazilians and New Zealanders. That's right. In the US market. So global global expansion, which I'm sure we'll get to, but not we like to start, they say, a series by hearing the company leaders describe their companies in their own words. So to kick us off today, how would you describe Stoke ambition? [00:03:08][29.3]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:03:10] Probably one word. The ambition of our customers, the ambition of our staff and our partners. Ultimately, we we try align the three we built on four major tenants, customers, staff, partners and our own shareholders. And all of them come with different ambitions and they're ambitious. So we want to make sure that customers have the opportunity to really make something of themselves and that flows through all the way, the way, the way we run our business. So, yeah, I think someone will say in the office progress on this ambition. I think it's really about ambition and progress follows that. So I was going to pick one. Would it be an ambition? [00:03:43][33.9]

Bryce Leske: [00:03:45] And so what was the journey or founding stake? You know, you were previously a professional in the markets writing it up to your partner over there. Yeah, that's right. And now you're a CEO of a startup. What was the what was the journey of founding? And I guess have there been any particularly tough moments on your entrepreneurial journey that you've learned from Suus? [00:04:09][24.3]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:04:10] Even before I was a trader and then obviously I was a lawyer way back in the day. So did law and finance here in Sydney. I grew up in Perth. I moved over right with the university. So I was just pretty tough. And instead of moving to another city and Australian universities and not Latin America, we used to live on campus and have a community. I found it pretty tough when I first moved to Sydney. But now that was that was a good experience anyway, just learning and growing. And then I went into law firm Allens. We've got a common thread that brought us. So it's Allans Linkletter's now. It's a large law firm. I was there for five years, three and a half as a lawyer. And then I was paralegal while at university before that. And then my math probably got me into law school and I really just loved the energy of the stock market. And I remember turning up to observe our on for an interview. And I was there while I was at Allan's in a suit and a tie, as you do. I'm not I still wear those, but maybe maybe not. And I rolled up and there was a dude rolling around on his skateboard with literally no shoes on and literally in this thing. And I'm like, I really got to get rid of my tie, my tie up, put it in my jacket. I'm still in the jacket. Says, Well, Overdressed is a bunch of math tests and a few interviews. And in my journey began, I absolutely loved it. I remember doing the interview process and just, you know, just being like, wow, this is what I want to be doing. And it was an amazing time. It was 2007, sort of the bull market, particularly in Hong Kong. Equities were observer focused and Aussie equities right before the GFC that the dawn was sort of around the corner of the GFC. And yes, it's a great place to learn, get exposure to really, really smart people working. Allans was amazing, as well as other skills and as a professional organization that have been around for hundreds of years, maybe, I don't know, like a Melbourne firm anyway, like it had a history and had a good structures. And yeah, then all of it was just like my foray into the markets. It was I wouldn't call the Wild Wild West, but we started with 50 people. When I left, we had I think close to three hundred and fifty in Sydney. So it was then that was just part of the one that I was the apex office. So, yeah, it's just great, right? I got to go to Chicago, run the index trading team there for US equities. That was the Russell, the S&P, the power of the Nasdaq, the VIX, that complex, which is just a huge it's like a behemoth of a market, which is obviously the inspiration for stake. And yeah, then I came back and just realized just how far away we were from the market, not not physically, but how hard it was for people to access those opportunities. When I was in the states like Netflix, at least that it wants to Tesla in 2010, towards the end of my journey that Facebook just listed, Apple is on its way to Groupon. And if you remember, that company was a Chicago based company. So that was interesting to follow and just the excitement and energy around the stock market. So I just wanted to make sure we could you know, Australia has amazing potential for, you know, people that have that access. But it was more of a novelty than anything and it didn't need to be the way. So it has jumped in headfirst and you try to make something happen a little out of the way. But, yeah, the journey has been nothing but a straight line, you know, in terms of growth. But it's been a lot of it's been a massive roller coaster in terms of emotions as well. But that's what you get. So you're in for some. [00:07:29][199.6]

Alec Renehan: [00:07:31] So I think, you know, you started you the first in Australia to offer Zoraida a brokerage. [00:07:36][5.1]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:07:36] We were yeah, it had happened in the US. Obviously, there was actually a group of four Robin Hood, but they didn't make it. That was really interesting. Everyone thinks that Robin Hood is the first, but they weren't. I think they were called. What were they called? I'll have to get back to you on that one. You can pass it along. But they're obviously history now. So they are the pioneer. But, you know, I think what history is written by the winners to say we were you know, our whole thing was really about access and to give people that experience as if you're in Sydney or San Francisco and make a difference ultimately. So we were and it's been it was tough at the beginning because people didn't quite understand it. But it's become sort of commonplace. And in a way, it's sort of validated the market and validated the product. [00:08:24][47.9]

Alec Renehan: [00:08:25] So what was it like? You know, early days you've had this idea, you started this company, you're going to zero dollar brokerage. You're entering a market that's dominated, I assume, at that stage still by the complex of the world. What was the entrepreneurial journey like trying to break into that market and convince people that zero dollar brokerage could be a thing? [00:08:44][19.0]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:08:45] Yeah, I mean, I think price is one aspect. I mean, with financial services and it's different. You seen lending businesses. It's not really about trust. Ultimately, with a lending business like going after players, if you're giving somebody something. So it's very different for when they're investing in you. Szostak is about creating trust and really understanding the customer's needs. It was it's really tough. I thought if I had my time again. What I do it again. Probably not. That's not really mean that I said, you know, I was at a really amazing situation up to the senior partner when I left. [00:09:20][34.9]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:09:26] My wife is really proud of what we've built and I'm really proud. But, you know, I think people I think start ups are sort of glorified in a way. I'm a little square in here. As I say, it's something tough. [00:09:36][9.2]

Alec Renehan: [00:09:36] This is a bit worrying, given that we've just quit out [00:09:38][2.2]

Bryce Leske: [00:09:40] cushy corporate job, you [00:09:41][1.4]

Alec Renehan: [00:09:42] know, but the growth you get [00:09:43][1.1]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:09:44] from starting a business and starting taking something from an idea to zero to ones the hardest bit in any in any business. And yet once you start like it's a lot more enjoyable now, it sounds really weird than it was the beginning. It's exciting at the beginning, but it's very, very tough. And you're just getting things thrown at you straight away. You know, things you just take for granted, like there are structures in organizations that you don't even need to think about, but you need to think about everything when you start saying from as you guys are finding out now. But, yeah, it's amazing when you start. And that's why I'm so I'm a massive fan of people that go and do their own things because they're the ones that are taking the risk to go. And we employ 50 people. Now, that's amazing in itself. And you guys will get there, too, which is super exciting. [00:10:25][41.2]

Alec Renehan: [00:10:26] We're currently at one. So for a century to this out that way so that you can contract it. [00:10:35][8.8]

Bryce Leske: [00:10:37] Yeah. So I guess sort of back off, Alex, comment that one of the biggest sort of questions that we had from our community early on was around how to stake make money and are they legit? And you had a pretty small team at the time. How do you go about changing the consumer mindset when it comes to convincing [00:10:57][19.9]

Alec Renehan: [00:10:58] people and I think maybe for people who still have that question. Sure, sure. [00:11:03][4.8]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:11:04] Look, it's always a valid question. It's important to know how a business makes money. So, I mean, I can answer that straight away and I can talk about the journey. So it makes money in three ways. We make it on the effects transfer when you move money from your local currency to US dollars with Be Aussie New Zealand Pound or reaI in Brazil and then back again. We don't make it like other brokers do on every trades. Other brokers charge an ethics fee every time you try to them you converts that you hold USD, which to us is not acceptable. So that's the first way we make it on the interest sitting idle cash sitting on accounts, which is obviously zero at the moment. [00:11:38][34.0]

Alec Renehan: [00:11:38] The top echelon. [00:11:39][1.2]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:11:40] We really make it in two ways. But I'm going I'm going to be good. Yeah, I'm going to give you the third. Just so you know, people are aware when rates do go up and the last ways we make it on the premium account black. So people that want more sophistication that one analyst ratings or price targets awful data regarding, you know, companies quarterly reporting so they can just level up if they want and just take that investing to another level. So, yeah, it's really three key ways. And as I said, what we do is we've just rolled the US experienced out to people outside the US. In the US, you'd have the same services without the effects ultimately. So you don't pay anything to trade in the US. Why should you not have that experience in Australia, New Zealand or wherever you are now? The other question about the beginning. So that's more of a business where it just takes time. You know, we all remember our first call, I'm actually very close friends now that first one of our first customers. Oh, nice. So, yeah, it's just you just have to speak to customers, understand their needs, what they're about. You got an idea as a business, but until you the rubber hits the road, it doesn't really matter. So it's all about the customer and it still is all about the customer. We're fully focused on our customers and speaking to them in the most important thing you can do is understand what they're about, what their needs are. You know, what are the questions, as you said, you know, how do they make money? How do you make money? How can I trust you? Those are the sort of situations where you just need to actually, you know, I was doing that in the beginning and I still and I still do it. I love getting on the customer service channel and I love going and speaking to customers. And that inspires me to push it to another level. So it's always the way and it will always remain the way [00:13:17][96.9]

Bryce Leske: [00:13:18] if you had your time again, other than not doing [00:13:20][2.0]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:13:22] I say that sort of, you know. [00:13:23][1.5]

Bryce Leske: [00:13:24] Yeah. I mean, I'm, you know, trying to change the consumer mindset and convince them that zero dollar brokerage is a thing. What would you have done differently? You know, everyone you know, when you start a startup, you're always trying to get as much, I guess, traction and. Yeah. And trust as fast as possible. What would you have done differently? [00:13:42][18.1]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:13:43] Are there so many mistakes we made? And I'll be totally transparent because that's what we've learned. We just you know, it's all about focus that we know we had right at the beginning. We offered gift cards. Yeah. And it's just it just wasn't what we were about. Ultimately, we were about giving people access to the U.S. market. We thought that was a great way to give people that wanted to share that journey. But we actually hadn't built the platform yet to go. And what we had built it, but we actually had and built the name and the brand and the association for what we're about. So it's all about focus. It's all about just being laser sharp. What is the most essential thing your customer needs? And our customers need it access to opportunity and gift cards when part of it. So we scrapped it and that was an amazing decision. We made people still ask about it. [00:14:27][43.8]

Alec Renehan: [00:14:27] I have someone actually asked me recently, can you give stocks to someone else? And I thought, oh, [00:14:32][5.1]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:14:33] yeah, I think there's a way we can do it again. We're sort of back in discussions with, but it's more about actually giving them the experience of investing, not the actual stocks. Yeah. So, look, there are just little things we're thinking about. But as I said, it's not the most essential thing right now for our customers. There are other things, but we'll leave that to the imagination. [00:14:51][18.0]

Alec Renehan: [00:14:53] So we don't want to we don't want this to be like we're grilling you, you get your money. And now I think, you know, you talked about the customer service and the customer feedback. And obviously, steak has been front and center recently because of this GameStop stuff. So I guess let's start at a high level. What was your experience of the GameStop saga? And, you know, how how did that interaction between what was going on in the US, what was going on in the state customer base and what was going on behind closed doors at stake? How did that all sort of interact? [00:15:30][37.5]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:15:31] Yeah, so I've never seen anything quite like it. I'll be totally honest. It was more than about investing. It was quite political. So that was quite stressful, to be honest, the way I'm very much libertarian in my views that people have the right to do whatever they want. Bycel I want to buy tobacco stocks. They want to go buy wait stocks. They want to go buy the stocks. They want to go buy a Vanguard ETF. That is your absolute right. And we do not tell people how or what to invest in and have should be able to express themselves in any way. So I'm very much on the side of if people want to buy GameStop or sell it or do whatever they want to do, that is their right. So for me, I'm totally with that the ability to exercise that right. But it was pretty tough. I mean, there are certain that the financial markets are complex based. There's a lot of players, you know, the Nasdaq went, I think, digital and I think the late sixties. I mean, this is a long time ago, like fifty odd years ago. It's more than fifty years ago. So there's a lot of legacy there. And, you know, that means that there's a lot of things that need to happen and to be absolutely perfect to execute a trade ultimately. And unfortunately, the system just didn't wasn't able to handle what was happening and, you know, where the front end. And that's what customers see. So we receive a lot of that feedback. And ultimately, like I understand their frustration and we learn from it, we get better. We we have to. And that's all we can do, [00:16:55][84.3]

Alec Renehan: [00:16:55] I think is for people who only did say the front end, you know, who were state customers, who couldn't trade GameStop, or for people you just heard about it on Twitter and stuff like that, can you explain what actually broke down in that [00:17:06][11.1]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:17:07] process? Yes. Sooner or later, they could trade [00:17:09][2.3]

Alec Renehan: [00:17:12] with a lot of [00:17:12][0.4]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:17:12] people to execute it orders. You know, we'll totally hopefully be really transparent the whole way through the issues during markup because of the volume and that were happening, but downstream on our side. So we were totally transparent. If you want to place a limit order or an order before market, you could have placed an order. In the same way, I think that some of the older school platforms, what you can't place orders during the market, but with state you could have done that and you could have actually placed orders before and said all you levels before the market open and you would have to execute it accordingly. So sort of clarify that. The issue, I think you're probably referring to is when the GameStop was set to sell only where you couldn't buy more. And now, you know, we we are not the actual executing broker in the US. And most I don't think any Australian or really any international brokerage would actually maybe interactive brokers are actually their own executing broker in the US. [00:18:04][51.6]

Alec Renehan: [00:18:04] And so just for people who aren't familiar with that, that means you receive the order and then you pass it on to someone who actually executes the trading market over [00:18:11][6.5]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:18:11] in the US. So we're basically the the the layer, the customizes, and those instructions are passed directly through like actually the same message is passed through to the executing broker dealer. So we're sort of at the mercy of what they allow in terms of stocks. And, you know, we fought tooth and nail and in a respectful way for more stocks and said we want to we're pushing really hard now to get more and more stocks for our customers that want to access those. So but at the end of the day, we have to respect that partner if they had capital constraints. So what happened? It's really complicated. I can try go into it. But, yes, there's there's certain things called the DTC, which is the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation, which then sets levels for how much margin need to hold against stock. And because of T plus, just as I said, it gets complicated. [00:18:57][46.5]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:18:59] I don't want to give you a lecture here. [00:19:00][1.2]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:19:01] So I needed that coffee though, and I wanted you guys to call that in my mind. So this is why I'm a bit scattered. [00:19:09][8.8]

Bryce Leske: [00:19:11] So, you know, long story short, there is a period of a few days where it was difficult for people to access the stake platform and execute trades, even though in the background it certainly seemed possible, though. And and then also, you know, executing brokers over in the states were making decisions that were equally affecting what you could offer the customers from sort of like a CEO hat on. How do you sort of plan for moments like that? And has it made you reconsider business model or anything like that? [00:19:39][28.5]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:19:40] Yeah, well, I just want to go back like the executing brokers also got downstream partners. So a lot of things are outside their control as well. That's what I talk about, that legacy. So I've got to respect the fact that there are things that I can't see, much like our customers see us. We see that executing broker. I'm sure there are things that go downstream. So we've got to be sensitive to that. In terms of planning, you can't plan for situation. I don't think I for two weeks, to be honest. I remember that week and that's why he's asked me if I lost weight. [00:20:07][26.9]

Alec Renehan: [00:20:07] Yeah, well, you look at true [00:20:08][0.7]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:20:11] look, you don't want those situations too often, but yeah, these yeah. It was really stressful. It wasn't a moment that I would ask for again. Yeah. Not as felt for our customers. I felt for our staff. Yeah. It's just an unfortunate situation. You just have to roll with it a bit. And my role as a CEO is to face up to the music ultimately and also provide support to staff, because ultimately the staff are the ones that are also in there in the thick of it, trying to solve problems, dealing with partners, dealing with customers, dealing with me. And in all you can do as a CEO is just try to be as strong as possible, even though you don't feel it on the inside. And it's stressful on my family as well. And those things happen. But that's where you grow. And I can't if I look back, that's something I wouldn't change because we're going to get better from it. We learn a lot. The customers understood where we came from and even you guys gave the feedback about our response during the the process was happening was like that drives us to be better. So, look, it's just about staying as strong and calm as possible. Even on the inside. You don't really feel like that. [00:21:17][66.4]

Alec Renehan: [00:21:17] And so he said were, you know, you learn a lot and you're going to get better from it, I guess. What have you put any changes into the business or like what are you going to implement from that period? [00:21:29][11.7]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:21:30] Yeah, I think it's learning a little bit more about how a partner is like I had I have good I feel like I've got good knowledge of the US trading infrastructure for my time there and but it's going into more detail. I'm a lot more involved personally now in order management, and I'm putting a lot of pressure on our partner to give me a lot of information. And I've really sunk my teeth into that, something I really love actually going into the detail again and how orders work and really just fighting for better controls for the management, because it was a big issue there that we were feeling downstream because of what the what they were building on their side. So I'm really just challenging a lot of those things. So that's a product specific thing from an infrastructure thing. We've just put a bunch of time into scaling and, you know, as I said, making sure that partners downstream and we're dealing with exceptions that happen. I don't know how much you guys understand the technology of learning as we go a little bit, but certain messages that get sent and I have impacts on our technology and just dealing with those in a more, I guess, graceful way would be how a technologist describes it. And that is scaling out the team. So we've been lucky enough to get more staff in, we've invested in, you know, just more more clarity for our staff about what are the most essential things that a customer needs. And it's about access. You know, when you have these situations is not about feature sets. It's about being really, I think, good at one thing. And that that thing for us is access. So that's where the focus has been and will continue to be. And it's just it sharpens that focus for us. Yeah. [00:22:55][85.0]

Bryce Leske: [00:22:56] We will just take a quick break to hear from our sponsors and then get back into it. Ren, you are all about getting fit, you've bought the garment, you bought the golf membership, you bought the gym membership and you're on the mind MasterChef and even in lock down last year, you bought those resistance bands of Instagram that from memory didn't even come. [00:23:15][18.6]

Alec Renehan: [00:23:16] No, look, they didn't come. But all of that effort really was canceled out by the numerous menu log orders that were a real staple of my lockdown experience. [00:23:25][9.5]

Bryce Leske: [00:24:14] So there is no doubt that competition is heating up in space, new brokers coming to town, what feels like almost every day. [00:24:21][6.9]

Alec Renehan: [00:24:22] I feel like we said we want going to grill him, but now we're going into another part of it, you [00:24:27][5.0]

Bryce Leske: [00:24:27] he knows what he's in for. [00:24:30][2.5]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:24:31] It's all about the growth right now [00:24:33][1.3]

Alec Renehan: [00:24:34] equity mates toughest interview. [00:24:35][1.0]

Bryce Leske: [00:24:38] I mean, it's no doubt that its access is getting easier for retail investors. It's getting cheaper. You see what's happening in the states. And there's a bit of a race to the bottom when it comes to fees. And it feels like there's sort of something happening like that over here in Australia. Where do you sort of see steak sitting in the broker landscape at the moment? And we always like to get an idea of what to say, I think stay sort of major competitive advantages. [00:25:04][26.5]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:25:06] Yeah, look, it's a really good question. I can't really focus too much on the competition that's going to come naturally. If you if you deliver a good job, people will see an opportunity as well as I sort of take that as a little bit of a compliment. But at the same time that our focus is on our customers, what they need, I'm head down and listening to them. We're aware of competitors, but it's not our focus at all. And you can't respond. You got to run your own race a bit. You know, I think what stake if you think about what we are, we are a place in which people can move forward. And as I said, I talk about that word ambition right at the beginning. And we represent that for our customers. And I think our customers recognize that, that when we do something and we make a mistake, we own up to it and we learn from it. And we always push to do things in a great way and a more creative way. And we think a little bit differently to that, to the rest of the pack. As I say, we're not necessarily only about price or about a lot of things, but the one thing we are about is ambition and representing that and one that will always be, you know, our go to and I think our customers, the ones that are aware of what we're about and know about our journey and know what they get with us, they see that. And that will always be our point of difference. Ultimately, the world doesn't need another broker. It's a utility [00:26:16][70.2]

Bryce Leske: [00:26:16] ultimately that anyone trying to come to [00:26:18][1.6]

Alec Renehan: [00:26:18] us, we don't need you and [00:26:20][1.8]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:26:21] you're not wanted. No, I mean, I think it's good. It drives us to be better and it makes us more aware and as I said, sharpens our focus on what's important. But our whole thing will be about access to opportunity, whether that be in in US equities in which started obviously our estimates effort platform so people can, you know, your your generation and my generation can open up and SNF in just a few clicks. And we've brought the, I think ASX at the cost or the ATO to the cost. Wylye average of fifteen thousand dollars to have it set up in a minute. So we've got it down to well below a thousand. So it is breaking down barriers in a really good way, using technology, understanding what the customer's needs are so customers can go and grab opportunities and will always be that. So I think our customers sort of see that we're a little bit different in a way that we're just not about trading or investing. We're actually about them and what they want to do with their lives. [00:27:13][51.5]

Alec Renehan: [00:27:13] I want to put a pin in that conversation, so I want to come back to that in a second. But one more question on the broker landscape. So you were in the States when you know the Robin Hood, the Ameritrade, all of that like we're racing to the bottom in terms of cost. So I guess you saw some of them for over there. How do you expect it to play out in Australia? Like, what's the end game here? [00:27:33][19.7]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:27:34] Feels like you got some inside information about this question. [00:27:36][2.0]

Alec Renehan: [00:27:37] I don't know honestly what fascinated me, like, you know, even in twenty twenty one, I think there's like three new entrants that have come in that are trying to do low cost. Yeah, bloody old for a summer superhero has been on every bus and train that you walk past. You know, you guys are growing like Comsec and stuff. [00:27:56][19.2]

Bryce Leske: [00:27:57] So you're on the stage last night. Yeah. Well like doing [00:28:00][3.4]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:28:03] I made it to the AFL felt like I couldn't do I couldn't do as a player. [00:28:07][3.9]

Alec Renehan: [00:28:07] So. So I also just looking at it being like, what's the endgame here. Yeah. [00:28:13][5.8]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:28:13] I just watch this space is all I can tell you. It's a little bit of a hint of what's coming. [00:28:18][4.6]

Alec Renehan: [00:28:18] OK, ok. All right. Well well, we'll put a pin in that. [00:28:22][3.4]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:28:23] That's a big that's like a double that line. [00:28:25][2.1]

Alec Renehan: [00:28:26] But you mentioned the SMSF featured so and so for people who are unfamiliar, basically if you want to have a self managed super fund, but you don't want to deal with all the admin and all the costs that comes with your stake are offering to take all that off your hands. [00:28:42][16.2]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:28:43] That's right. So you look at stakes customer, it's 32 years old on average, works in the city, professional generally. And they've probably thought about having an estimate and there's something about having your own estimates. But it's just been out of reach because it's has been made to be exactly the same way US equities were when we started. This is clanky. It's slow. It's complicated. You told you don't need one because the super funds are make it cheaper and easier. But that's because it was just so bloody hard to you know, I was nuw. Yeah, I've told you my accountant is because I've shared the information I was getting. You know, I was paying, I think, four grand a year for my super to be just administered. You know, we've been able to just use technology and we brought increases in estimates of expert and do it at a quarter of that cost. So I love my accountant is a lovely guy, but at the same time, you know, there's a better way to do things will always push for that. And, you know, we're in beta now. We've got the VIP list of customers that are testing and helping us nurture and develop the product. And it's just about breaking down those barriers. And people that wanted to have been successful would be thinking about it when this at a forty five can now start thinking about it when they're thirty and be like, well, I don't need to have that three hundred grand that everyone tells me I need to have because actually it's cost effective, a fifty grand and then I can have full control about what they invest in and they don't need to be limited and just get a PDF statement once every six months from the super fund. And so this is oh we put an index fund and we took, you know, one hundred and fifty dollars of fees out [00:30:11][88.4]

Bryce Leske: [00:30:13] so that before we move on to the people and culture and future plans, a bit of a shameless plug if you want to support equity mates and also have ambition as a toy, [00:30:24][10.8]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:30:24] if you do have ambition or if you do [00:30:25][1.3]

Bryce Leske: [00:30:26] have ambition and want to join the 300000 traders it announced, I think [00:30:30][4.4]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:30:31] it could be more [00:30:31][0.3]

Bryce Leske: [00:30:31] then head to head across to You can sign up there and use the code equity mates when you sign up and you're going to draw to win one of three free stocks that are currently with stake. I think it's what are they to like? [00:30:47][15.5]

Alec Renehan: [00:30:47] Dropbox and Microsoft? I was looking at Dropbox. [00:30:51][3.2]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:30:51] I'm like, wow, this thing's really turn around [00:30:52][1.4]

Alec Renehan: [00:30:53] and say [00:30:54][1.0]

Bryce Leske: [00:30:55] use equity mates to sign up and fund your account. And then, yeah, they'll throw a free stock your way. Pretty good. Pretty decent way to start your investing journey. But moving on to people in culture, Matt, we love hearing about how CEOs are trying to build that, because when we speak to, you know, professional investors, it's always about the management. And, you know, it's really difficult to get information on management. So do you have a leadership philosophy as a CEO and how are you trying to build, I guess, the culture at stake? [00:31:25][30.0]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:31:25] Sure. So, yes, absolutely. I do have a philosophy and it changes as I learn more. Yeah. And hopefully get better. It's all about the people, you know, everyone says, but you don't really realize it until you're fifty people deep and you need people managing people. It's all about the people. And we're really lucky. I feel I'm so proud. You know, the other day I hired we hired a new staff person for customer service and I got the I called him up and I said, congratulations, we're going to make you an offer. I'm just so excited that you're joining us and to be able to make those calls. And he's like, I just so want to be part of this journey. So excited when I walk into the office. The people are amazing. And that's what makes me so proud is that when I see people that want to be part of our journey and I elevate us even further and you have to nurture that. And we've been lucky enough that we've had great people from the beginning that have wanted to be part of what we're building. But it takes effort. It takes real effort. And I think my philosophy is just yourself. I feel like I'm approachable. I'll own things when I get it wrong. And that's a lot of the time. And I want people to never feel. Afraid of making a mistake, I want them to try stuff, I want them to throw caution to the wind but responsibly and learn from it, it's about making decisions relatively quickly. And if you get it wrong on it, move on, learn, repeat, and just make sure you keep making better decisions, but you feel that you can make them. No one wants to be in an organization where you're stifled and people say no, they want their own level of accountability. So you've just got to give them the space to grow. And I feel that has to come from the top. And my philosophy is very much about you've got the ability to do anything. And I've got to make sure that people actually believe that internally as well. [00:33:08][103.0]

Alec Renehan: [00:33:09] Yeah, it's a good philosophy, a great thing about doing this series. And they have to ask this question is what? You can really just pick and choose everyone else or your [00:33:18][9.8]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:33:19] staff of wanna [00:33:19][0.5]

Alec Renehan: [00:33:21] know about this stuff? [00:33:22][1.3]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:33:23] It starts now and it starts now. And, you know, when you hire someone else, the person they're going to be talking to the most is your other employee. So you've just got to start talking [00:33:32][8.9]

Bryce Leske: [00:33:32] by the water cooler chat employees [00:33:35][2.3]

Alec Renehan: [00:33:36] of a water cooler, water cooler. You did offer me a coffee, though. [00:33:40][3.7]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:33:40] What am I got left at the coffee shop. [00:33:42][1.8]

Alec Renehan: [00:33:44] So we mentioned that stake is in four countries at the moment, the UK, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand, I guess. How's that expansion gone like? Have you learned anything from entering these different markets? I guess people may be confused by the geographic spread. So it may be why those four countries. [00:34:05][21.4]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:34:06] Yeah, I mean, Australia. New Zealand makes sense, right? My co-founders, British Dan. So and we always saw the opportunity to be that us outside the US like really about offering us equities, the world's biggest market to people outside the US because it's difficult in the UK, believe it or not, they get charged. Even the new brokers are charging ethics and every trade. Really, it drives me insane. So I think there's a big opportunity to go and shake things up there. To me, it's unacceptable. So that's and with the ending, the being British, that makes a lot of sense to have a business over there. Brazil's a really interesting one. That's probably the one that stands out. So Steak never really had intentions to go to Latin America, obviously wanted to be global, but it was really about just nailing it in Australia. But my chairman, who's become our chairman over time, actually started and built Brazil's first online trading platform. He's an amazing guy. He's my mentor ultimately, and I'm happy to admit it. He sits next to me every day. He's become an exec member of the team. Now he's in there. And yeah, he said in the early 2000s, he built and sold Brazil's first online trading platform to Santander Bank. Ultimately, it got acquired and he came across it's an amazing story you should actually have him on because he's far more interesting to me. He settled for a year with his four kids across from Sao Paolo. It's actually the end of the boat in Auckland. It's based in Auckland and then moved to Australia just as an adventurer. I remember when I was at university, he left Cornell. He did his master's at Cornell and him never in a motorbike, just bought a motorbike and drove it all the way back down to. Yeah. So just to have people like that and the opportunity in Brazil is enormous. You know, it's the same time zone as America. It's a very similar situation, you know, in terms of the types of companies that are listed on the exchange, the Bovespa. And it matches our mission of really giving people access no matter where you are, and they need it just as much as Australians do. And, you know, to have someone who's done it before and can teach you and you can learn off it, it made sense to place a little bit of a bit in Brazil and it's paying off. So we're really, really happy with that. [00:36:15][128.8]

Alec Renehan: [00:36:15] How is the Portuguese terrible? [00:36:17][1.9]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:36:19] You know, it's amazing when you speak to the staff there, they apologize to the English. And I'm like, you have got nothing to apologize for. If we had this in Portuguese, I'd be staring blankly. So, yeah, it's yeah, it's just an amazing journey, learning about different cultures, different regulators, different market structures, different needs of customers. And look, as I said, I said right at the beginning I wouldn't do it again. But when I get to talk about what I've learned over the journey, I'd definitely do it again. So, yeah, those are the things that really just amaze me every day. [00:36:48][29.8]

Alec Renehan: [00:36:49] I imagine that's probably the hardest part. Like you think about an online tech business and you think, well, you know, tech like tech can be global very quickly. But I feel every country's different set of regulations like the opportunity to scale would be constrained by that like it would be difficult navigating it every time. [00:37:08][18.4]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:37:08] Yeah. And that's why I say it's all about the people you need to put. The right person in place and the right person needs to want to come and work for you, so and that's really hard when you've got nothing in America when we're lucky to have great people in all of our markets. You know, there are different challenges in each market. And you need to be dynamic and you need to have that attitude that I'm going to make quick decisions. But if I get it wrong, I'm going to quickly make another one and see if that's the right one and learn from it. And if you've got that overarching philosophy in your business, you will find a way to succeed. And we just sort of maintaining that. [00:37:39][30.8]

Bryce Leske: [00:37:39] Speaking of succeeding and expansion, what is the next sort of 12 months hold for stake that you're able to reveal [00:37:47][8.0]

Alec Renehan: [00:37:48] or that you want to reveal for the first time [00:37:50][2.1]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:37:55] I'm not even the boss of my own business or the boss of my own home. So, I mean, there's a lot we're really focusing on Australia, I'll say that, and New Zealand as well. You know, very similar markets in terms of culture and customers and needs. So you can imagine what that's going to be. I won't say anything explicit, also incorrect. So, yeah, there's a lot to be done in Australia. But really, as I said back, it's about what we learned from the whole situation at the end of January. Is it just about getting better and what we're doing and making it really good, improving the front end, the back end, the infrastructure, building out the team, the customer service team is at every level. It's just about improving. It sounds cliched, but it's just the truth. Yeah, but there will be some pretty interesting products being rolled out this year, but it's all about having that based on first. So it's making it like we just released bank transfers so people could find more easily and little things that just make the experience better. But those little things matter. And just being the laser-sharp and making those making it a great experience for people to access the market. [00:39:03][67.7]

Alec Renehan: [00:39:05] So we're eternal optimists here at equity markets, but with everything, there are risks. What are some of the biggest risks for your business right now? Oh, yeah, [00:39:13][8.8]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:39:14] they're very good questions. I'm also an eternal optimist. So, you know, I feel I need probably a bit more time to think. There's no one big risk. I think there's execution is everything. I don't mean that from outright execution, that everything [00:39:28][14.1]

Alec Renehan: [00:39:28] goes well for helpful, [00:39:29][0.6]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:39:30] but executing our business as our plan. You know, I think if we focus too much on the competition, that's actually a risk. It's actually just what are we about? We're about our customers giving them the ability to make something more of themselves to make their mark on the world. And if we don't focus on that, that is probably the biggest risk. It's about understanding what they need, what they like, what they don't like, what we can improve on. And that needs to drive us. And if you lose sight of that, that's a massive risk, because then you end up just building everything that they didn't want and you end up being like the players you're trying to disrupt. And I just don't want that to happen to out a person to allow that to happen at stake. [00:40:02][32.7]

Bryce Leske: [00:40:04] So it's been a really enjoyable conversation. And we appreciate your transparency with everything from looking back on where you started, what, five years ago at stake and the challenges that you faced. But also, I guess, the successes if you were to sort of think about stake in ten years time. Yeah. What does success look like for you and for stake? [00:40:26][22.4]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:40:27] Yeah, I mean, it depends how you measure it. You can measure it on how many customers you have. I don't think that's the best measure for us, the type of business we want to be. I think it's it's about the satisfaction that customers get from our products and our experience and our brand. And how do they when I talk about steak, do they say, yeah, I've been using steak for five years and it's like I look at it every day and I'm proud that I'm a customer. That to me would be success. So if in five in ten years time, if people are still saying that, like, I'll be over the moon, [00:40:56][28.8]

Bryce Leske: [00:40:57] will you be CEO in ten years? [00:40:58][1.2]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:40:59] You know, in some ways I hope not. But then I hope so as well. Like, if there are people that come that are better than me that can take a job. You've done an amazing job. It's not because it's not because I've not delivered. It's because someone is better than me at it. Then that would be amazing to [00:41:14][14.4]

Bryce Leske: [00:41:14] a business and then just sit on the same day. [00:41:16][2.1]

Alec Renehan: [00:41:16] Now, your chairman, [00:41:17][1.0]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:41:18] slightly different scallops. [00:41:19][0.6]

Alec Renehan: [00:41:20] I think you just need to find your next business, you know. And so. Yeah, well, [00:41:27][7.1]

Bryce Leske: [00:41:28] as I said, it has been a pleasure. You know, you've certainly helped us on our entrepreneurial journey. And I was as much a mentor to us as some of the people that you have in your business as well. So, you know, we really appreciate the conversation. And it's been refreshing to get a bit of an insight into how you think about being a CEO and growing a business rather than just what's hot and what's not over in the States at the moment, [00:41:52][23.3]

Alec Renehan: [00:41:52] although we do want to keep up to date with what I think everything's hot right now. As I [00:41:57][4.7]

Bryce Leske: [00:41:58] say, a massive thank you and it's [00:42:00][1.9]

Matt Leibowitz: [00:42:01] always a pleasure now. I loved it. Thanks, guys. Thanks, man. [00:42:01][0.0]


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