Yannick Brunner — Why WealthKernel?
I wanted to build a financial services company with a sense of purpose and committed to a world class work culture.
I worked in finance before co-founding WealthKernel, and I got my first job during the financial crisis, at a prestigious, tech-driven trading company called DRW. This was my first experience working for a company with a strong employment culture, and I noticed the impact that culture had on the work environment. DRW’s culture was centered around its founder, whose forward-thinking embrace of technology gave him an edge in trading pits and led him to financial success, as well as to the company’s growth as a technology company and survival despite the shrinking industry.
Equally important, DRW had a culture of equality amongst all employees. While trading firms and banks are notorious for showering traders with praise and reducing the remaining staff to “support,” at DRW, all aspects of the business, from HR to the back office, were performed with care and pride, ultimately enabling the trade floor to be a leader in many products. When I left DRW two years later, I didn’t know that DRW’s culture was an anomaly in the financial services industry.
Over the following 4 years I had several jobs in finance, and none of my other employers devoted attention to culture or were interested in redefining the industry norms. The variety of workplaces I was exposed to reinforced my appreciation for building a strong work culture. I also became convinced that the financial services industry needed to be disrupted, and needed a sense of purpose other than a purely monetary one.
In late 2014, I left finance and enrolled in Makers Academy’s developer bootcamp. I wasn’t too sure of my next step, but it felt like the right decision. Then in 2015, Karan asked me for some feedback on ideas he had been toying with since retail distribution review (RDR, a bold initiative by the UK financial regulator, the FCA, to clean up the wealth management industry). Although I was set on leaving finance at the time, walking away from a problem-ridden industry felt like a cowardly thing to do. Instead, I rolled up my sleeves and joined the cause. Since making that decision, I’ve found a sense of purpose in what I do every day at WealthKernel: reshaping the finance industry and building a great company culture.