AMA with our Chief Product Officer, Fernando 🎉

Greetings from Argentina :wave: :argentina:

I’m Fernando, the Chief Product Officer here at Monzo.

Since the early days I’ve been a fan of how Monzo engages its community as it builds the next big thing. That’s a huge reason I chose to join Monzo, and something I feel really passionate about continuing. So I thought it was finally time for me to introduce myself.

I’m actually a longtime lurker on the forum and have been reading your posts since I joined Monzo last summer. Everything in ‘Feedback & Ideas’ is a goldmine of inspiration and really helps me understand what’s important to you. Very few companies have the luxury of such an engaged and dedicated community. So I’m both very grateful, and very keen to do what I can to keep building on this – including spending more time on here!

So I’m here to do an AMA and let you ask me all your burning questions – about me, my role, our plans and vision, and what’s going on in the world of Monzo.

I’ve spent my first few months at Monzo learning a ton about the industry, our current pain points, and the customer needs we haven’t fully met yet. There’s lots for us to do, but I’m super excited to work together with you to make it happen over the next few years. And I’m very confident now we’ll get there sooner than some people think!

I’m originally from Argentina and I fell in love with coding at a young age. I started a software company while in high school, which ultimately led me to Seattle (USA), where I worked for Microsoft in the .NET design team. (Incidentally, when I landed in the USA I gained access to more sophisticated tools to help me manage my money, which made life so much easier than it had been at home).

I spent the next 15 years in tech companies like Mendeley, Just Eat, and most recently the Latin American ‘super-app’ Rappi, where I was Chief Product and Technology Officer

I always thought the car and banking industries were the toughest to disrupt – and I love a challenge. But I also chose to join Monzo because it represents something different. We have a clear purpose to make money work for everyone and clear principles such as transparency. And we truly care about our customers, it’s not just lip service.

Also – I absolutely love tennis and football. So taking any and all questions about that!

But, before I answer your questions – I have a question of my own for all of you:

Have you voted for us in the British Bank Awards yet?

I’ll be bugging you all week to vote if you haven’t already.

We have some ambitious goals this year (which I’m sure we’ll get into) – and trust markers like this can be useful proof-points to help us on our way. And of course, we wouldn’t mind winning again! :slight_smile:

Vote for us in the following categories:

:trophy: Best British Bank
:trophy: Best Current Account Provider
:trophy: Best Business Account Provider
:trophy: Best Credit Card Provider
:trophy: Best Personal Loan Provider

Get your questions in (and get your votes in!) and I’ll reply to as many as I can by Tuesday.

As you’d expect, there’ll be some things I won’t be able to answer, like if things are confidential or where we don’t want to lose our competitive advantage. But I’ll be as transparent as I can :smiley:

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Hey Fernando, thanks for taking the time! :smiley:

What is the real truth with UK Joint Accounts? Are they being restricted deliberately? Are they being relaunched?

Why are so few people able to get them?

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Would it be possible to look into a far visually reduced app home screen, similar to other banks.

Literally thinking an account balance and pots, nothing else.

I like everything monzo has to offer but from a clutter point of view, its far too much. Seeing so much information on the home screen really isn’t good for some.

None of this really needs to be there:

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Hey @fernandofanton :wave:

Lovely to see you here! I’ll come back with (probably far too many) questions later - but I just wanted to say hello!

Brb… :scream:

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Greetings to you too, from northern England :wave: - :arrow_up::england:

Yes - only in the categories where I am using Monzo though.

I’m sure that’s the right answer :wink: Now my turn - using the ‘Feedback & Ideas’ as a reference, what chances do the current top 5 (open) requested features stand in terms of happening? Realistically?

And great to see you here too :+1: - while it might feel like jumping in with the lions/lionesses, it is really reassuring for the community to be able to engage with the great people who bring it to life & keep it going.

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Hi :wave:

What are a few things that the UK is lacking compared to Argentina or maybe the US?

Hot chip plushies shouldn’t be this exclusive?

Which phone do you use? (So we know which platform is going to get more Monzo app love)

Are other metal card colours on the horizon?

What previously unknown upcoming feature can you leak to us here?

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Hello :wave:

Talking about the colours, I’m sure it’s not a problem to deliver more of them for custom categories :grin:

Single colour options would be more convenient for me :sweat_smile:

No, I didn’t vote yet :neutral_face:

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Cool to hear.

A few questions:

  • How does Monzo set and check its product vision. And how does that translate down into engineering
  • What do you see Monzo becoming, and particularly what key growth areas does it seek to break into
  • How easily does the strategy translate across teams. What sort of methods do you use to identify if people are interpreting it correctly
  • how do you identify if what’s being built adds value. Who makes the final decision on what’s next. Product or commercial?
  • Argentina produces some great food products. Do you have a favorite
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No, not yet, partly because I don’t think you’re the best in those categories atm.

However, you can buy my vote if you share something we don’t already know about the Investments product Monzo has been working on…

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How really very cool

.NET is an excellent framework and environment to work in and with

Heck of a year for you then!

Emi Martínez - love him or endure him?

Hi Fernando :wave: !

Great to hear that Monzo have such high calibre individuals in the leadership !

Plenty of questions - but feel free to ignore some.

  1. How important you think is for product owners to posses technical skills, especially in a (fin)tech company ? Do you engage with engineers at technical level ? Does this facilitate communication and collaboration ?
  2. How does a typical working day look for you ?
  3. When did you hear about Monzo for the first time?
  4. What is your favourite Monzo feature?
  5. Nalbandian or Del Potro?
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IASP - what’s the deal with them? They’ve been maimed feature wise compared to normal pots.

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Hello Fernando! I hope you’re enjoying some nice steak and Malbec!

I would be really interested in learning all you can tell us here. I know an investment product has been talked about for a while now, perhaps you could update on progress and what it might look like? Thoughts on plans to develop and scale in the US, what you think of the opportunity and how you think that’s going?

Perhaps you could expand here also! What gives you the confidence, and what does “there” look like to you?

Thank you.

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Okay I’m back and I have questions!

Before I jump in a massive thank you for doing this for us. It’s really good to hear that you’ve taken inspiration from this place and that you see its value. Thank you!

Well, if you insist! Here we go:

  1. Could you tell us a bit more about your role? Was is a Chief Product Officer? Could you tell us what your scope and responsibilities are? Are you the Global Chief Product Officer? And what is the ‘product’ (or ‘products’) - how do you conceptualise Monzo in product terms?

  2. Now onto something a bit more meaty: what is your vision for the product? I’m anticipating you’ll say something about a financial control centre, but I’m sure we’d all love to understand what that means to you. I’m not after product pre-announcements, but could you paint a picture about where you’d like Monzo to get to in, say, a few years time, especially what will be different, the gaps you’re colouring in and any directional shifts, that would be fantastic.

  3. What’s your view on (generative) AI? I was reading some theories that it’ll make interfaces largely natural language (written or spoken) with graphics, graphs or analysis performed on the fly. If we extrapolate that to apps generally, do you speculate GAI mean the end of them as we know it? What’s your view of where Monzo fits in with that? Would you consider an early plugin to ChatGPT, say, differentiating Monzo through the data/API rather than the app?

  4. I’ve had some seriously mixed experiences with support over the last few years. What is your response to the suggestion that support is letting the product down? (I want to be very clear that I’m not criticising individual support folk btw, more that I don’t think there is sufficient management grip on it - or that the wrong decisions have been made).

  5. It’s really interesting that you’re writing from Argentina. Are you based there, or just visiting folk? Either way, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts about the banking industry over there, and how you go about using the product if you’re not based in the US/UK. I’m also curious about how you balance the cultural disconnect of coming from a different place with the benefits that different thought and perspectives / taking a first principles approach to product bring.

  6. In a similar way, I’m really interested in the UK/US product evolution. We know that the financial landscape is very different in the US and that the finances operate very differently. Could you dig into the product side a bit, though? I have a theory that the basic fundamentals (budgeting etc) are more or less the same and if you create a product for the most complex market it will probably work in the other. What do you think? How much divergence do you foresee? Do you have any handrails to guide that?

  7. I think the general consensus on here was that the recent UK savings pot was an excellent financial product but a bit lacking in terms of software. I understand (even if I don’t agree with) to remove scheduled withdrawals, but I really can’t get my head around the lack of multiple pots and the forcing of a standard pot image for the emergency/savings net pot. I’m not asking you to justify those choices to us, but I’d really like to understand the thought processes behind them. At the moment it just all feels a bit opaque and ‘unMonzo’ to me.

  8. It’d be really interesting to hear about your attitude to breaking changes. Do you think that Monzo is too big now to make some significant changes to either the app or how things work? Or are there any that you’d like to make?

  9. I totally respect your caveat about where things are “confidential or where we don’t want to lose our competitive advantage”. Here’s a thought experiment though: if you knew the precise roadmap for a competitor, what would you do differently? My hypothesis is that if you’re a high-performing team then it shouldn’t actually matter too much. But I’m really interested in the opposing view. (I ask because I hear this a lot and I’m not really sold on it mattering as much as some folk think it does).

So much more I could ask! I think that’s more than enough for right now though!!

Thanks again for coming on. This will be awesome.

:pray:

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As Monzo develops into a more established (and hopefully profitable) bank, do you think there’s a risk that innovation will start to take a back seat? How do you plan to stay ahead of the competition?

My hope is that Monzo offers an investment product. A stocks and shares ISA (even just basic index trackers), which would save me having to use other apps. No doubt Monzo would make it simple and be upfront and honest about fees.

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Hi @fernandofanton

Welcome and thanks for coming on here and answering questions from the Monzo community.

I think the question that is top of my list is around Joint accounts. What is the reality of why they don’t have parity with personal accounts? Is this technical limitations, too much work or is there not enough demand to justify this? Are there any plans or timescale for parity or getting closer?

I can’t vouch for others, but for me personally I have operated with a joint account only for over 35 years now and have no need for having a personal account and all my salary, bills and spending go through my joint account. I would happily pay for Plus/Premium but there is no point as I don’t use the personal account I have. But I would love the features that come with them on my Joint account.

Welcome again and good luck with your new role.

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Hola Fernando!

Everyone else has covered the banking questions, but I have an equally important one (at least, for me)… what is the price of a choripan in Argentina these days?

(context: I remember the days I could practically live extremely comfortably with about 2,000 pesos per month in Buenos Aires, I am guessing it’s changed since then)

Ok, and a banking question to keep it on topic… from a ‘product’ perspective, does Monzo see that e.g. Nationwide FlexPlus is a far better product than Monzo Premium, and if they do, are there any plans to re-invent Premium to be more competitive?

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Me again!

I think this is implicit in some of the questions we’ve had, but I’d be really interested in your take on the pain points and unmet needs. :pray:

Monzo seems to have switched gears recently, with much more (visible) product development. This might be before your time, but what changed?

¿Que es un choripan? ¿Algún tipo de bocadillo?

Muchas gracias y thanks again!

Had to answer this question first! :slight_smile: Depends on the choripan of course, but you could get a pretty decent one now for 400 pesos, bit less than one pound. Is a good time to visit for sure.

Regarding premium, yes we have some interesting things lined up. Any particular one of interest?

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