In Profile at The Fintech Times
AI Editor's Choice Middle East & Africa

In Profile: Mehdi El Amine Fichtali, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of FinaMaze

The world of investing from an individual’s standpoint, when compared to a businesses standpoint, can differ greatly. Whilst an investment of thousands may seem like a lot for an individual, for companies, this is a small investment when you take in to account competitors are investing millions at a time. So how can investors investing “only” thousands maximise their investments?

One solution comes from FinaMaze. Finamaze is the MENA’s hybrid human/robo digital wealth manager committed to solving long-standing challenges of the investment industry in the region and beyond.

Mehdi El Amine Fichtali, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the company, sat down with The Fintech Times to explain his history in the fintech world and how it led him to create FinaMaze: 

Tell us more about your company and its purpose
Mehdi El Amine Fichtali, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of FinaMaze
Mehdi El Amine Fichtali, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of FinaMaze

FinaMaze is the latest generation of AI wealth/asset management firms in the region. Our vision is to provide private-banking-grade bespoke investment solutions to clients investing “only” thousands of dollars rather than millions, at a fraction of the cost. Each investment is personalised out of 4,000 possible profiles to fit each client’s unique “fingerprint” risk appetite.

As a fully regulated firm by the ADGM’s FSRA, we hold the highest category license to provide asset management services, which ensures clients assets are safe and segregated from FinaMaze corporate accounts at all times.

Through our user-friendly platform, our clients tailor-make in three clicks their public markets portfolios with a fully-transparent real-time performance, a daily liquidity and a zero exit fee. They can diversify from international/ regional stocks, bonds, commodities, to inflation and other individualised protective/contrarian strategies, and even to Islamic-friendly investment solutions.

We also offer risk-managed crypto and native tokens portfolios and our private equity investment ticket starts at only $10,000, the lowest entry in the world, to democratise access to these highly sought-after asset classes, traditionally reserved to the multi-million-dollar tickets.

Some of our clients are calling FinaMaze the “super investment app”.

What are some of your recent achievements you’d like to highlight?

I would like to mention three updates that I believe are relevant.

First, our latest partnership with the leading USA research house Ned Davis Research that was commented by the investment industry peers as a recognition and a “knighting” by a global player. NDR is part of the Euromoney franchise and has been providing independent investment research for more than four decades, across four continents, to global institutional clients, banks and hedge funds to help them see the signals to invest with confidence.

Second, the success of our timely-launched innovative Smartfolios (Inflation, Black Swan, Relative Long/ Short Strategies) whose year-to-date 20+ per cent performance contrasts with S&P’s -15 per cent and Nasdaq’s – 23 per cent. That sheds light on the FinaMaze human/ AI model and allows it to race among the top performing asset managers in the region and beyond.

Third, the appointment as FinaMaze COO of Nik, ex-Ola, ex-Careem, and Swvl’s latest Global Head of Strategy and Expansions. We see his growth management expertise with a streak of three unicorns in his past career as a great support and a consolidation for the firm’s journey to becoming a global organisation.

How did you get into the fintech industry?

It all started with, on the one hand, a frustration experienced by most mass affluent clients, those with “only” thousands of dollars to invest, when it comes to their investment experience with traditional banks and asset managers in the region and beyond. And on the other hand, with a strong conviction that artificial intelligence, data science and high-speed cloud-based complex computing brings a formidable power to banking and particularly to the asset management industry.

Pascal, Alessandro, Georges and myself, all with decades of experience at the most prominent and well-established multinational banks and global investment firms, undertook to design the optimal way to harness cutting-edge AI by putting the client at the center of the Investment equation. We sought to provide a private-banking grade personalised investment solution to a wider audience of clients, available at a fraction of the cost.

And we succeeded, thanks to our expert tech team of data scientists and software engineers who continuously optimize our AI for our human investment committee to keep on growing our clients’ investments.

What’s the best thing about working in the fintech industry?

It is so exciting to see the alliance of finance and technology team working together on a daily-basis to bring and improve our solutions to the clients. It is so inspiring to be at the confluence of both these “fin and tech” worlds and seeing them in action collaborating to write the pages of the future of the banking and asset management industry. That is the DNA of the fintech industry, and that is the DNA of FinaMaze.

What frustrates you most about the fintech industry?

Our region is used to the local adaptation of solutions that proved successful in Europe and in the US. Only a few fintechs from the region came up with truly innovative approaches that solve not only regional but also global problems. The latter could even export to the rest of the world but for years, regional VCs favoured the first type of fintechs and encouraged client fast acquisition at any cost.

Only today, after the first half of the year of “deflation” of the startups hype, that we witnessed a change in paradigm whereby in-house technology, R&D and IP are privileged and that the race for client acquisition at any cost is discouraged. Interestingly, our recent and positive interaction with US VCs firmed up our position with investors from the regional landscape.

How have your previous roles influenced your career?

My global investment banking career started in the trading floors of Credit Agricole Investment Bank in Europe, before my move to Dubai in 2005 to work for Barclays Capital and then Morgan Stanley and deNovo Advisors. Over 15 years of experience in the finance world allowed me to capture the essence of the investment cycle and its subtleties. Building on this acquis and the impetus given by the development of the AI, I transitioned to found FinaMaze in 2018.

Most of the fintech founders have a tech background that they leverage to address some of the problems faced by the banking industry. On the other hand, we come from the banking industry and employ technology to optimise solutions addressing problems we are too familiar with. These nuances are key to differentiate fintech solutions and will ultimately lead to improving the overall perception of fintechs by the banking industry.

What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?

Given our DNA as professional investment bankers, we were stubborn, perhaps more than what we should have been, in taking time to get the highest category license to provide asset management services from our ADGM’s regulator. We also beefed up the FinaMaze investment solution with the latest technology and built several investment features before launching a mass marketing campaign on the roads. We could have picked a faster route but we believe we are today in a strong position to further deploy our investment platform.

What has the future got in store for your company?

A lot we hope. We were particularly thrilled by the enthusiasm of the KSA. Our participation in the Fintech Saudi program sparked a lot of interest, particularly from the family offices. They are enthusiastic about the FinaMaze Human/AI model, particularly about our portfolio building module and AI rebalancing capabilities. Having built the whole solution internally allows us to answer their demands with a dedicated B2B platform, made available only to institutional investors. Our business model is pivoting to capture, on the top of the B2C, the B2B segment.

The obvious following step is to establish a presence in Europe. From the discussions we’ve had over the past few months, we gather there is an appetite from European institutional investors and investment advisors. We are invited on a roadshow in Europe, for our solution to expand beyond its region of birth and to grow branches in the European ecosystem.

What are the next key talking points or challenges for your industry as a whole?

I am a strong believer that the advancement of our ecosystem requires a genuine collaboration between fintechs and banks. We like to illustrate this with the metaphor of the “Jetskis/fintechs scouting ahead for the motherships/banks”. Clients are the ultimate beneficiaries and will get the best of both worlds. From the fintechs, technology agility and pivoting, boldness and entrepreneurial spirit, and from the banks, size, brand power, life-long proximity with the customer, and… wisdom.

Interestingly, we see a few MENA banks favor the local breed of fintechs that are closer to the customer concerns and more willing and able to adapt to the MENA banks specifications, at the expense of better established and often larger multinational fintechs. FinaMaze white-label and adaptive solution for banks is set to meet the MENA banks expectations, so as together, fintechs and banks, carve out the future of finance and banking!

Author

  • Francis is a journalist with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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