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Belong Celebrates Official Launch, Offering Millennials Support and Capital Needed to Invest

Belong, a brand new wealth-building platform has officially launched after securing £2.95million in pre-seed funding – the largest pre-seed round ever raised by female founders in Europe.

Belong offers customers an optional loan to scale up a long-term investment, creating a new low-interest ‘Boost loan’ feature, enabling more money to be invested upfront – magnifying the effect of compounding over time. Customers pay back the Boost loan separately, in small monthly instalments, enabling their investment to continue to grow.

Founded by former investment banker Avion Gray and behavioural economist Samantha Rosenberg, Belong hopes to make forms of wealth-building that have traditionally been the realm of a wealthy few, accessible to a wider demographic.

Originally from Trinidad, Avion Gray recently held the role of head of product and commercialisation at POS systems and merchant service provider Clover and is now CEO of Belong.

Avion Gray, co-founder and CEO of Belong
Avion Gray, co-founder and CEO of Belong

Gray commented: “We need two things in order to build long-term wealth – time and money, but we rarely have both of these elements concurrently. Millennials still have the time ahead of us to see any long-term investment we make now compound and pay off before retirement, but we often struggle to get started.

“Whether that’s due to not being able to secure a mortgage, lack of confidence around investing or feeling like we don’t have enough cash available to make it worthwhile – Belong is changing this.

“Historically, despite daily movements, the stock market has shown an upward trajectory over the long term – to the tune of 10 per cent per year. An investment in the broad market is inherently diversified, transparent in value, and accessible. This makes the Boost loan attractive for anyone with excess cash, a steady income, and the mindset to stay the course and be long.”

Millennials missing out on ‘primary wealth-building years’

Belong explained that millennials are the first generation in history to be worse off, financially, than their parents. While they make up the majority of the population (22 per cent), they own less than five per cent of the stock market.

However, Belong estimates that 18 to 44-year-olds in the UK alone have access to an estimated £300billion in cash savings. This tends to sit in low-interest savings or current accounts. As millennials themselves, Belong’s co-founders are on a mission to change this and shake up the investment space.

The positive demand from Belong’s beta customers is early evidence that this product is highly appealing to the target demographic – to date, 84 per cent of customers have opted for a ‘Boost’ loan, with 100 per cent retention and on-time repayments after 15 months.

Samantha Rosenberg, co-founder and COO of Belong
Samantha Rosenberg, co-founder and COO of Belong

Raised in South Africa, co-founder and COO Samantha Rosenberg is an economist, specialising in behavioural finance. Rosenberg commented: “The excess money millennials keep in savings accounts or cash ISAs is simply not working hard enough for us. Not investing it, means we are losing out on our primary wealth-building years.

“People like the idea of having easy access to their cash, but this is often due to present bias – the tendency to discount one’s future self in favour of more immediate gratification. Our future self feels like a stranger, and it’s difficult to make sacrifices for that person today.

“Investing is also something that, in the past, was seen as reserved for the rich or finance-savvy, but that’s no longer the case. We want to use what we know about financial decision-making to change perceptions around investing, creating a social movement around ‘being long’ and getting more young people set up for a wealthier future.”

Investing in the future

Other investors to date include Octopus Ventures, Viola Fintech, Connect Ventures and Portage Ventures, along with prominent fintech angel investors, William Todd, co-founder of Nutmeg, a digital wealth manager, UK Economist, John Kay and tech industry maven, Edwina Johnson.

Zihao Xu, fintech partner at Octopus Ventures, also said: “We are proud to be on this journey with Belong and look forward to supporting the company in its quest to be a true pioneer in long-term wealth-building. Samantha and Avion’s shared vision and complementary expertise puts them in a great position to help more people get on the path to a better financial future.”

At launch, Belong users are able to choose from five different broadly diversified index-tracking funds to invest in. This includes the MSCI World, S&P 500, FTSE as well as climate and ESG-focused funds.

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