Can utility providers embed investment products?

Hi embedded finance friend

I am sitting in the train right now and am heading to Frankfurt for the ‘Embedded Finance Day’ of the Digital Finance Accelerator organised by TechQuartier. I will be holding two presentations (A masterclass for building embedded finance products and an embedded finance state of the art keynote) and I will moderate the embedded lending panel as well.

I am considering to share my slides for the two presentations in the next few days. If you are interested in the slides, please send me a short email or LinkedIn message.

Today is a podcast day. In today’s episode we dive into a rather new use-cases for embedded finance. At least for me. At our Embedded Finance Event in Berlin in April, I chatted with Iven Kurz and he told me about a new type of non-financial brands exploring to embed investment products. I immediately asked him if he wanted to share this story on my podcast, and luckily he agreed  👇

Podcast 🎙️

Can utility providers embed investment products?

I spoke with Iven Kurz, CEO and founder of Evergreen. Evergreen is a German- asset manager that started with a direct to consumer investment product, but in the past few years they also partnered with various fintech startups. Most recently, they started to engage with various non-financial brands.

You can find the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other podcasting platforms.

Key take aways

  • Why Evergreen started to engage with non-financial brands
  • How big the embedded finance opportunity for Evergreen could be
  • What type of non-financial brands could consider to offer investment products
  • Why utility providers and travel companies are well positioned and what their embedded finance product could look like

I hope you enjoy the podcast episode! If you have any thoughts or personal experience in the space, please reach out. I am happy to continue the conversation.

Written summary

If you prefer to read, you can find a shortened written summary of the interview below:

Lars Markull: Welcome to the Embedded Finance Review Podcast. I'm your host, Lars Markull. In this episode, I'm speaking with Iven Kurz from Evergreen. Evergreen started with a direct-to-consumer sustainable investment product offering. In recent years, Evergreen partnered with various German FinTech startups and is offering the investment product as a service. Most recently, Iven and his team have been talking to various non-financial companies, including utility providers, supermarket chains, and travel companies. In this edition, I speak with Iven about why a consumer would want to invest with a non-financial brand, the difference between embedded trading and embedded investment, and what non-financial brands need to achieve in order to succeed with embedded investment. Let's dive in.

Lars Markull: Hi Iven. Welcome to the podcast. How are you doing today?

Iven Kurz: Pretty good. How are you?

Lars Markull: I'm good, thank you. It's great to have you on the show. You're the founder of Evergreen, which started as a direct-to-consumer product. In the past year or so, we've seen Evergreen partner more and more with FinTech startups, and now you're also targeting non-financial brands. Before we talk more about the non-financial brands, I'm keen to understand: was there a strategic shift for you from focusing purely on consumers to also partnering with FinTech companies? How did that happen?

Iven Kurz: Yeah, I guess you could say that we actually started as an asset management company with our own distribution channel via our Evergreen platform. We manage sustainable mutual funds and created this platform to distribute our asset management products. The idea was not just to distribute our products but also to provide the platform that uses our products. This is how we transitioned from a B2C to now providing the entire wealth management supply chain, including licenses, infrastructure, and investment products.

Lars Markull: Was partnering with other companies something you had in mind when starting Evergreen, or was it more opportunistic?

Iven Kurz: It was definitely opportunistic. We started with sustainable asset management and fair investing for everyone. Then people started reaching out, asking about our tech stack and licensing. We realized that leveraging our licenses and tech stack could help others, especially in the digital wealth management space, where obtaining a license can be challenging.

Lars Markull: You mentioned sustainability. Can you explain how Evergreen positions itself in the direct-to-consumer space and what kind of consumers you target?

Iven Kurz: Our platform focuses on sustainable investing, both ecologically and economically. We aim to close the knowledge gap in investing by combining sustainable investments with education. Our clients must invest sustainably; we don't use ETFs because we believe they can't truly be sustainable. Our target audience is sustainability-oriented, education-seeking, and cost-sensitive.

Lars Markull: Does this sustainability focus also translate to your partnership model with FinTech and non-financial brands?

Iven Kurz: It depends on the use case. If the investment product is combined with a sustainable product outside of the investment space, partners prefer sustainable investment products. Otherwise, our platform can provide any investment product our partners want.

Lars Markull: For those unfamiliar with the investment space, can you explain what your as-a-service product offering looks like and how it compares to other solutions like UpVest or Lemon Markets?

Iven Kurz: Our offering differs from transaction-based providers like UpVest or Lemon Markets, which focus on self-advised, transaction-based investing. We focus on wealth management and advisory for clients seeking advice. This involves a different license because the order is initiated by the advisor, not the client. Our platform provides advisory and portfolio management, making it suitable for partners targeting advice-seeking customers.

Lars Markull: Can you explain how embedded investing fits into non-financial brands and what kinds of companies are suitable for offering investment products?

Iven Kurz: Embedded investing in non-financial brands doesn't necessarily mean convincing people to make an investment directly. It's more about combining products with investments. For example, a green energy plan could be combined with a renewable energy investment. This approach creates additional use cases and doesn't feel like traditional wealth management.

Lars Markull: How do you see the market evolving, especially with non-financial brands? Are you competing with other providers in this space?

Iven Kurz: As soon as you step into investment products, the competition is less. Most embedded finance providers focus on transactions and loans. Our approach involves advisory and portfolio building, which requires different licensing and expertise.

Lars Markull: What advice would you give to non-financial brands interested in embedded finance, specifically embedded investment?

Iven Kurz: They should understand that embedded finance opens up a whole new way of thinking about investment and savings. It's an opportunity to create new use cases for retention and client engagement. Think freely about how embedded finance can benefit your clients and differentiate your brand.

Lars Markull: Now, I understand that you started Evergreen with a focus on sustainable investments. Could you elaborate on why you believe this is important and how it aligns with current consumer trends?

Iven Kurz: Absolutely. We see a growing demand for sustainable investment options as consumers become more aware of environmental and social issues. By focusing on sustainability, we not only meet this demand but also contribute to a positive impact. Our platform educates consumers on sustainable investing, helping them make informed decisions that align with their values. This educational aspect is crucial because many people still lack knowledge about sustainable investment opportunities.

Lars Markull: That's very insightful. Shifting gears a bit, let's talk about the practical aspects of partnering with non-financial brands. What challenges do you face when integrating your investment products with their services?

Iven Kurz: One of the main challenges is ensuring a seamless user experience. Non-financial brands often lack experience in financial services, so it's essential to create an intuitive and straightforward integration process. This involves providing robust support and education to our partners, helping them understand the investment landscape and how to best serve their customers. Additionally, regulatory compliance is a significant consideration, as financial services are heavily regulated. We work closely with our partners to navigate these complexities.

Lars Markull: You mentioned earlier that the interest from non-financial brands is primarily driven by a desire to enhance customer retention and differentiate themselves. Could you provide an example of a successful partnership that illustrates these benefits?

Iven Kurz: Sure. One example is our collaboration with a utility provider. By integrating our sustainable investment products with their green energy plans, we created a unique value proposition for their customers. This integration not only offered customers an opportunity to invest in renewable energy but also provided potential savings on their energy bills through investment returns. This dual benefit of financial growth and cost savings helped the utility provider differentiate itself from competitors and increase customer loyalty.

Lars Markull: That's a great example. Finally, looking ahead, what are your plans for Evergreen in the next few years, especially in the context of embedded finance and partnerships with non-financial brands?

Iven Kurz: We plan to expand our partnerships with a diverse range of non-financial brands, exploring new and innovative use cases for embedded investing. Our goal is to make sustainable investing accessible to a broader audience by integrating it into everyday products and services. We also aim to enhance our platform's capabilities, making it even easier for partners to offer our investment products seamlessly. Ultimately, we want to lead the way in embedding sustainable investment options into the fabric of everyday consumer experiences.

Lars Markull: Thank you, Iven, for your insights. It's been very interesting to learn about the possibilities in the embedded investment space. If there's anyone interested in the topic, what's the best way to reach out to you?

Iven Kurz: You can visit our website at, where we explain our API. Feel free to call or email us. We'd be happy to talk.

Lars Markull: Awesome. Thank you, Iven, for your insights, and until next time.

Iven Kurz: Thank you. It's been a pleasure.

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