FIGS Launch Event (From left to right, Mr. Raymond Chan, Mr. Masato Takamura, Mr. Eugene Ong)
A special event to mark the launch of FIGS was held in Tokyo on 5th of July, 2018. For the event, we invited numerous press outlets. In attendance was SBI Group’s Representative Director and President, Mr Masato Takamura, who gave a speech marking the launch (SBI Group has invested in FIGS). It was a busy day setting up the venue and our own FIGS staff came all the way from Singapore to show support for the big day.
It was an emotional moment launching after all the hard work. After a long stretch of development and fine-tuning, we soft-launched at the end of March 2018. While conducting marketing-related activities (mainly for customers of SBI Securities), we continued to refine and improve our product.
Finally, we have come to this special launch. From today, the full service will begin and it’s a milestone we are deeply proud of reaching.
As for readers, we would like to fill you in a little more on the background of FIGS and how it was started.
First off, FIGS stands for “Financial Innovation Gateways”. As we know, “figs” are a fruit but it also refers to the four European languages of French, Italian, German and Spanish grouped together. (In fact the top searches on Google are the fruit and European languages but our goal is to make our platform the most searched “FIGS” in future!)
FIGS was first born in 2016 on the back of the inspiration from its two founders; Eugene Ong and Raymond Chan.
Eugene Ong, the CEO, was born in 1974. He joined SBI Hong Kong Holdings in 2013 after having long stints in the financial industry on both the sell side and buy side. After serving as a co-director of SBI Hong Kong, he established FIGS in Singapore in 2016. Serving as the CEO, he is responsible for leading the overall business direction of the company.
Raymond Chan, the COO, was born in 1976. He graduated from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and worked as a trader at renowned financial trading houses such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. Serving as COO he is responsible for product development based on his abundant and wide-ranging financial knowledge.
Both of them have worked with professional investors in the financial industry for many years but it got them thinking that there was a fundamental problem in their industry that was not being solved or tackled.
It was a straightforward one. Investment professionals have access to an overwhelming amount of information. In comparison, though, individual investors have little to no information or tools that can be used to make educated decisions on investing.
They wondered if there was something they could do to fix this situation. This got them thinking. "Is it possible to turn the information that professional investors use into easy-to-understand and easy-to-use tools for individual investors?" This was something they were determined to deliver on.
For example, professional investors refer to analyst reports released by securities companies and research organisations. In such reports, stock ratings by analysts such as "Target Price" and "Buy, Sell or Hold" are shown.
However, analyst reports are mostly beyond the reach of general retail investors. The reasons are simple. They can not get the reports if they don’t have their own account with a securities company. Additionally many of these reports can be too technically challenging to read and prior financial expertise is required to fully understand them.
Even though it is possible for individual investors to obtain analyst reports, it can be intimidating for the occasional investor (if they are investing within specialised frameworks such as the NISA and iDeCo).
So, if several investment analysts recommend you certain stocks then you can easily find out what the average target price is. This way, even individual investors (who may not have time) can utilise the professional knowledge and expertise of analysts for their investment goals.
That's one of the key offerings of the "FIGS Analyst Score". The FIGS Analyst Score is based on the accuracy record of professional analysts. By comparing their record of 12-month target price predictions of stocks to their actual success rate, it can be easy for investors to grasp how accurate analysts really are.
Eugene frequently uses stories to make a point. According to him the concept of FIGS is like comparing "Photoshop" and "iPhoto" in the world of photo processing.
When you process professional photographs, using Photoshop, you undertake a complex process for several hours just to touch up one photograph. This Photoshop software is functionally complicated, and only makes sense to people who use it, so it is not the kind of tool that an amateur can just effortlessly pick up and use.
Meanwhile iPhoto is easy to use for anyone. If you use tools such as a filter function, you can easily create "professional-looking" pictures in less than a few minutes. Admittedly, a professionally-crafted work is better than iPhoto. But in iPhoto, just a little processing will make it miles better, and you can even touch up your own photos.
We wish to create the tools (like iPhoto) for users but in the world of stock market investing. This is one of FIGS's key concepts.
Our service has just started and we are aware there are parts of our service that we have yet to perfect but we would appreciate any feedback or requests you may have about our features and contents.
We at FIGS really appreciate your support.
Mr. Raymond Chan, COO of FIGS
Mr. Masato Takamura, Representative Director and President of SBI Securities
Mr. Eugene Ong, CEO of FIGS