GoHenry's Louise Hill on democratising financial education
Many consumers are experiencing financial anxiety, impacted by rising inflation and cost-of-living pressures. For families with children, it can be difficult to find the right words – and the right way – to deliver financial education. GoHenry was founded in 2012 to address that need and provide parents with a hands-on way of engaging their children with money matters at home.
At Innovate Finance Global Summit (IFGS), GoHenry co-founder and COO Louise Hill tells me that the need for their app is stronger in today's economy than ever before. GoHenry commissioned research at the end of last year, which showed 71% of children were worried about the cost-of-living crisis because they had heard it mentioned at home.
Parents today can't afford to sweep difficult conversations about money under the carpet. If children can't talk about these topics at home, they will get their information elsewhere – whether that's social media, television, or in the playground.
“I think it's really important that parents talk to their kids in an age-appropriate way to help them understand what the cost-of-living crisis means,” Hill says. “More than ever, having access to simple and easy-to-use tools to help kids and adults better manage their money is key.”
‘Delighted’ that financial education is mainstream
As a parent, you want to be the one delivering that life lesson to your children. But not all parents feel confident delivering financial education to their kids. When GoHenry introduced Money Missions – a series of in-app, gamified money lessons for children which are embedded into the GoHenry app – the company was inundated with requests from adults for something similar.
“Parents would say 'my kids are asking about compound interest, or investing, or talking to me about APRs',” Hill recalls. “They were saying to us, 'I don't know that. Have you got something to help me?'” That's when the app launched Money Missions for Parents, designed to give parents the confidence to talk about complex financial issues with their children.
GoHenry must be doing something right; such is the fintech's success, the topic of financial literacy among children has re-entered the national dialogue and spawned several similar initiatives – notable among which is Barclays LifeSkills and banking app for children. “I am delighted,” Hill tells me when asked about mainstream providers following GoHenry's lead. “There is space in the market for other players and for different offerings.
“We're lucky in the UK that, over the last 10 years, we've built up huge market leadership. But that doesn't mean we're complacent. We need to keep listening to our customers and keep evolving the service that we provide. The more that is out there, and the more that money is talked about at home, the better that will be for society.”
Busy year underlines GoHenry’s expansion plans
It's been 10 months since GoHenry announced the acquisition of Pixpay, a fellow European fintech app helping parents to engage their kids with money. At the time of the acquisition, Pixpay was available in France and had recently launched in Spain. In January of this year, it expanded into Italy, helping GoHenry to bring its mission to more consumers.
The next evolution in the company's growth story is the acquisition of GoHenry by Acorns, which was announced at the beginning of April. The US savings and investing app has agreed to acquire GoHenry, which will turbocharge the app’s plans for expansion – and it’s an exciting time to be part of the company, Hill reveals. “We were introduced by one of their investors and it very quickly became clear how similar our missions were.” It took two years of negotiations before the deal was finalised, partly because both companies were taking on fresh funding. Acorns raised $300mn in March 2022 and GoHenry raised $55mn in a Series B round last November. But that now means that both companies are “strongly capitalised and poised for growth,” Hill says. The acquisition will see GoHenry rebranded in the US as ‘GoHenry by Acorns’ and made available to all of their adult customers with children; while GoHenry will have the option to roll out some of Acorns’ products and services in the UK and Europe.
It feels like a culmination of the growth journey that the brand has been on, Hill says. She is speaking to us from the grand gallery space of London’s Guildhall, where IFGS – one of her favourite events in the fintech calendar – is taking place. But GoHenry still has some pretty grand plans of its own.
“Our fundamental mission statement has remained pretty much the same since we launched, but we've tweaked it slightly. One of the tweaks was ‘to make every kid smart with money’, and we've not reached every kid yet. There's more kids, there's more countries. There's more to be done.”