Joseph Reinke | Founder of FiTBUX
Success leaves clues
Finance Strategists sat down with Joseph Reinke, founder of FitBUX. He shared his thoughts on the past, present, and future of the company, as well as the insight he gained from running the business.
Who is Joseph Reinke?
Q: Who are you and what’s your background?
My name is Joseph Reinke. I’m the founder of FitBUX and I’m a CFA Charterholder. Before I started FitBUX I held various roles in multiple financial industries. I’ve been doing personal investments and developing business ideas/strategies since I could remember. When I graduated from college I worked for the Los Angeles Dodgers for a year before starting my “professional” financial life. My first job in finance was as a mortgage broker in 2007. I learned a ton from this experience, i.e. from consumer mindset to securitization.
After the economic contraction in 2008 I went into wealth & portfolio management, which allowed me to observe both the good and bad of the financial services industry. From there I went into investment banking and valuation work. It was really a culmination of all these experiences that lead to the creation of FitBUX.
Q: Who has been your biggest influence, and why did they have such a significant effect on you?
I would say there were actually 4 major influences throughout my life:
Nikola Tesla- I love reading about Nikola Tesla and it’s not because of the technology he created. I love how dedicated he was to improving the lives of everyone; and his focus wasn’t on profits. He focused on his expertise, which is very inspiring.
Bill Walsh- Everyday in a start-up is a grind and we tend to get impatient because the outcomes take a long time to materialize. My sports background provided a lot of good lessons in preparing me for this. I love Bill Walsh’s book, The Score Takes Care Of Itself. He says you can’t worry about the long term outcome. Focus on today and what you can control. If you do that and you do what is right, the Score will take care of itself.
Athletes- I grew up around a number of professional athletes that became all-stars. They taught me what it takes to be an expert in your field. They are the reason I took it upon myself to learn as much as I can about the world of finance.
Family- I grew up in a family of self employed individuals. Being around this environment exposed me to the highs and lows of owning a business as well as the necessary components to build a sustainable business.
Q: Knowing what you know now, what would you have told yourself when you were in your twenties?
Don’t put blinders on because of excitement and don’t ever think there is only one way to accomplish something. I say this because I’ve gotten screwed by so many people that wanted to help me “build” the company.
“Outsiders” come in saying they are going to do XYZ and you get so excited you put blinders on. I ignored a lot of red flags that I knew I shouldn’t have but did anyways. These errors have cost us time, money, and equity in the company.
One valuable lesson I learned from this is to be extremely careful when hiring independent contractors. My approach now is, “If we don’t have the funds or equity to hire the person as a full time employee, then we aren’t ready to expand/execute that portion of the business plan yet.” Also, if they are not interested in potentially becoming a full time employee, then they aren’t dedicated in helping us and their focus will be elsewhere, not with us so don’t engage them in the first place.
What is FiTBUX?
Q: What is FitBUX?
We are building a new financial planning technology that automates financial recommendations. From my previous experience, I have learned that having a human component is critical and so we’re coupling our technology with financial experts, our FitBUX Coaches. The technology is being built first to automate our internal processes and save our FitBUX Coaches time. For example, one Coach can currently work with 1,500 FitBUX members where as a traditional financial advisor can handle about 100.
From there we will begin automating the financial planning process directly on the platform without having to communicate with a Coach via AI and data analytics.
In addition, we have also tested a consumer-facing platform to help FitBUX Members create their own scenarios, model the impact of potential financial decisions and more. This is due to be available to the public in August or September 2020.
The primary technology that allows us to do this is our proprietary algorithm. We make the algorithm easy to understand for consumers by converting it into a score which we call The FitBUX Score. The FitBUX Score is like GPS for your money. It helps you understand where you are today, customize and compare routes to get to your financial destination, then guides you on that route as you implement it.
We launched the first version of our technology to students and new grads a few years ago. This piece of the technology centered around student loans. We are launching the first version of the larger technology in September 2020. This new version will encompass student loans, retirement, home buying, family planning, children, cars, life insurance, budgeting, asset management and much more.
The technology we launch later this year will be primarily suited for anyone ages 20 – 40 years old.
Q: What makes your company different from its competitors?
2 primary items:
1) Traditional finance services and other Fintech only look at tangible assets like stocks or insurance needs. However, most people aged 20 – 35 do not have these so there is a major void on where they can get financial planning help.
Our algorithms incorporate two extremely important aspects for younger individuals: Human capital analytics and behavioral analytics.
Human capital is extremely important because it projects our levels of income and the RISK to that income. This in turn dictates our financial lives, how much debt can we afford, how we pay it down, what type of loans do you need, how should your portfolio be efficiently allocated, etc…
2) One major problem in financial services is that it’s segmented. Look at home buying for example. To buy a house you need a real estate agent but they don’t know much about mortgages (or more accurately they can’t help you with the mortgage). Therefore, you go to a mortgage broker. The broker can tell you what you qualify for you but they can’t tell you what type of loan is best for you or how it fits in with your financial plan. Thus, you go to a financial planner but they can’t help you because they don’t know much about managing debt. Therefore, you are left to do your own research and try to figure out how this mortgage is going to play a role in your financial plan that includes life insurance, retirement, brokerage accounts, disability insurance, etc.
Our technology breaks down this segmentation and allows you to see how various choices, from budgeting to loans, will change your financial plan, the outlook of that plan, how to minimize your risk, and how to maximize your plan. Best of all it’s customized to the individual because the algorithm takes into account their human capital and behaviors.
Q: What led you to start FiTBUX?
Nikola Tesla and this quote, “The force which retards the onward movement of man is partly frictional and partly negative.” I view money and finances as a frictional force. It is no secret that money causes stress, family breakdowns that lead to divorce, and time. To me time is a major one. We spend so much time thinking about how much money we have or don’t have. What should we do with it? What can I do to maximize it?
In my opinion, if we as a society and individuals can greatly reduce the time we think about money then we could spend that much more time on positive forces such as education, health, and technologies.
Therefore, I created FitBUX to do just that. The thought was, “If I could create a technology that reduced how much time people have to think about their finances then I could reduce this frictional force and help move mankind forward.”
Q: What has the experience of building the business taught you?
I can sum that up with two words: patient endurance. We live in a time where we want instant results. That definitely won’t happen in a start-up.
Q: Where do you see things headed for you in the next 5 years?
Our goal is to roll out our new technology this year and we might roll out our first asset management technology as well. Then in 2021/2022 we’ll introduce our new technology for mortgages and insurances.
From there we will continue to expand the technology to include more and more automations and services.