Inviu, a company pioneer in technology for comprehensive investment solutions, advances with its strategy to expand to several Latin American countries by extending its operations in Zonamerica and arranging new collaborations with brokerage firms in Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Panama, and Peru. Inviu’s mission is to maximize the potential of independent financial advisors. Through direct agreements with Interactive Brokers and BNY Mellon | Pershing, custodians of Inviu abroad, the company offers the opportunity to open investment accounts in Uruguay, Argentina, and the United States. This initiative diversifies the investment options available, adapting to the profile and individual needs of each investor. We talked to Diego Reimundes, finance enthusiast and Inviu Country Manager in Uruguay, about capital markets and technology. Latin America has a very low rate of concomitant bank accounts, not used for investment purposes. To what is this phenomenon owed? Is it lack of financial understanding or fear of market volatility? In my opinion, those two things are intrinsically related. Fear of market volatility comes directly from lack of financial knowledge and understanding. In Argentina and Uruguay, financial education is not part of the school curriculum, and most traditional college degrees are not likely to address these matters either. As a result, people do not have access to understand markets during their education years. Many people are afraid of investing under the belief that the market is too volatile. Although there are high-risk instruments intended to risky investor profiles, there are also more conservative, minimum-risk options. The cause for the lack of participation in investment accounts in the region is, basically, lack of knowledge. When analyzing figures from regulators in the region and calculating the ratio of investment accounts to bank accounts, we see that in Argentina this percentage is 5%. That is, every 100 bank accounts only 5 are related to investments. In Chile and Peru, this percentage reaches 6%, while in Colombia amounts to 8%. Despite having increased, these figures are far behind the 55% of the United States. Beyond Inviu’s business objectives and our model based on independent financial advisors, we have a broader mission: to get those 5%, 6%, and 8% closer to the 55% that characterizes a developed country as the United States. Inviu’s goal is to promote capital market growth, reaching an increasingly larger audience and helping people achieve their financial objectives. In this context, what role do financial advisors play in the region? Let me take a step back to give you a full picture of the situation. Continuing with our in-house research cycle to understand the markets, we made surveys to investors, specifically those that account for the 5%, 6% and 8% of the concomitant accounts in the region. These surveys focused on the role of the financial advisor, and we found out key information that supports the main premise of our business: 71% of investors value human advice. They look for a rapport with someone they can see and with whom they can meet, someone that gives them a detailed explanation of what they are buying or selling, the risks involved, expected return, and, ultimately, how these aspects are aligned with their investment objectives and horizons. In a nutshell, we work based on the end client. Now, financial advisory regulations vary depending on the country. In Argentina, for instance, regulations are in place for positions such as external asset managers (agente productor) and global investment advisors (agente asesor global de inversiones), who advise and manage portfolios of clients in other countries. In Peru, although these positions are not yet regulated, there are already persons acting as independent financial advisors. When I say “persons” I mean both natural and legal persons. This scenario not only offers a solid base for market development, but also poses a great opportunity for more individuals and entities to join the financial advisor profession on an independent basis. How do you offer investment solutions for these financial advisors? We define ourselves as an Investech, which implies that technology is our main ally. However, we like to emphasize that we are much more than a simple platform, website, or mobile app to manage portfolios and interact with advisors or clients. We don’t limit our dedication exclusively to technology; we aspire to go farther, especially in the context of independent financial advisors. Our objective is to ease operational worries so that they may focus solely on the relationship with their clients and help them achieve their investment goals. In order to do so, we not only offer technology, but we also have a team of research & strategy experts who help advisors outline investment strategies for their clients based on risk profiles. Also, our team offers reports with simple market analysis and ideas with concrete doable actions. Independent financial advisors are the ones running their own business unit. Our goal is to maximize their profits. We believe that by providing them support on the operational side by means of technology, human assistance and access to investment products, we allow them to focus on what they do best: managing relationships with clients and the creation of portfolios to optimize their business. 2023 was a year of expansion for Inviu. In September you announced alliances with brokerage firms in Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Colombia, which are added to the operations in Argentina and Uruguay. What is the impact of extending investment options in the region? In my introduction of Inviu, I forgot to mention an essential detail: our genesis as project of the Galicia Financial Group, conceived with the intention to go beyond the borders of Argentina. This Group, renowned for being ranked first in the Argentine banking scenario, as well as being leader in the insurance and investment fund industries and having Naranja X as virtual wallet, already ran several prominent businesses in Argentina. The vision of Group Galicia, with Inviu in the forefront, was to expand in the region, always maintaining our identity. In 2019, we took our first steps from Argentina, and in mid-2021 we obtained our authorization in Uruguay as stock brokers. Thus, Inviu has an Integral License in Argentina and operates as stock broker in Uruguay, representing two different entities with independent clients, regulators, and transactions. Having clarified this, and to answer your question, 2023 was the starting point for the achievement of our main goal: to attract clients, including independent financial advisors, and investor clients outside of Argentina. We started our active search in Paraguay and other regulated institutions in Latin America. How does this impact on our model? From Uruguay, we focus on addressing the offshore business thanks to being in a free trade zone. Here, we cannot attract Uruguayan clients, making our activity purely offshore. Our job consists in making agreements with US brokers, such as Pershing and Interactive Brokers, so that Latin American independent financial advisors, either from Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Chile, among others, may cooperate with their clients. You have been in Uruguay for two years. Which are the advantages of being established in a country like Uruguay? The advantage of being in Uruguay lies on the regime of free trade zones, specifically designed for those that, like Inviu, are looking for an exclusively offshore business. Tax benefits are an incentive to develop your business, while servicing your target clients. And this regime can be complemented with parks like Zonamerica. What advantages does Zonamerica offer to a tech-based financial company? Let’s start with the basics: Zonamerica is pure nature. Being a park, from the get-go you will lose yourself in a gorgeous environment. In terms of businesses, here you find a significant concentration of financial market players and, in addition, you are connected to the Zonamerica community. The assigned account executive is pro-business and facilitates the interaction with other players on-campus, creating an environment auspicious to offer technological services. Zonamerica makes strong emphasis on the technological aspect, and by offering software development and data storage services they provide comprehensive technology solutions. When working in Zonamerica, you are not only renting offices, but also cooperating with a business-oriented company that can satisfy any technical need you may have. This gives extra reassurance. Either if you need technology from day one or, as in our case, have multiplied the number of initially rented square meters, Zonamerica, in our experience, always offers flexibility to expedite processes, negotiate rates, and, at the end of the day, guarantee customer satisfaction.