Banque et Finance: July 2010
Interview of Michael Heijmeijer, founder and CEO of Cfinancials.com.
The Cfinancials.com portal for financial information, which took three years of complex development, has been operational since January 2010. It currently provides factual information on 6.5 million financial products, spanning from the traditional to the more sophisticated: from funds of funds to hedge funds, via bonds, options and swaps, not forgetting private equity funds and structured products, with CDOs and CDS-MBSs soon to be added. Cfinancials.com has become increasingly popular in Switzerland, and already has requests pouring in from the rest of the world.
Banque & Finance: What are the investor requirements that you hope to meet with the creation of the Cfinancials.com portal ?
The objective is to offer private, professional and institutional investors a powerful, comprehensive, evolving tool that provides factual financial information, free of charge, on the full range of financial products that we have divided into twenty-four asset classes. It is essentially promoting transparency, in that it gives visibility to 98% of existing financial products. 6.5 million items can currently be searched on the basis of specified criteria and parameters. However, our system already holds a total of 9.5 million items which will be gradually incorporated into the Cfinancials.com portal. This diffusion of information in stages enables a better quantification of investors' requests, numbering 8,000 daily, and an accurate assessment of the categories of users visiting the site. All of our data and the closing prices on Wall Street are provided by our partners Six Telekurs, Thomson Reuters, Dow Jones and Interactive Data.
B&F: Given that access to Cfinancials.com is free, what are its sources of funding ?
We sell advertising space on the portal for the inclusion of visuals and promotion of financial products in various forms. We also offer premium services to institutional and professional investors, accessible with a login, that add value to the financial information provided. For example, analytical studies of products or comparisons on the basis of figures or graphs, or other customized versions, available on request. According to our business plan, 90% of revenues should come from our premium services and the rest from advertising.
B&F: Do you plan, in time, to offer active management services ?
We could choose that direction, but that is not really our intention. We prefer to guide private investors in their choice of financial product provider by, for example, providing in-depth studies of relevant banks or fund companies.
B&F: Are you considering setting up partnerships with online banks such as Swissquote or Saxo Bank ?
We have met with the directors of several banks with a view to exploring various possibilities. And in fact there are synergies that could be developed. However, our commitment to exhaustiveness and transparency in the presentation of all existing financial products does not correspond to their marketing strategy or their business plan.
B&F: What was the investment required for the the initial software development and then to launch Cfinancials.com, and how much do you need to continue developing the site ?
The development and setting up of Cfinancials required several million Swiss francs, which came from private investors and private equity firms in Switzerland and abroad. I have also invested money that I earned as an investment banker over the past fifteen years, working in Hong Kong, the United States and Switzerland. In order to continue funding our technological development and to recruit fifty employees in the canton of Vaud, we are in discussions with private equity and venture capital firms with a view to raising between ten and twenty million francs.
B&F: Why have you chosen to base yourself in Lutry rather than in Geneva or Zurich, or even London or New York ?
The canton of Vaud has greatly facilitated the creation of our company in Lutry and has exempted us from paying tax on any profits for ten years. And, of course, the quality of life and the environment are superb !