We’ve been carrying out a lot of internal testing since getting our Swedish licence (as well as building some essential features, like integrating with Swish, the go to payments system in Sweden).
We’ve reached a point where we’re comfortable to start onboarding the earliest people on our waitlist to start scaling testing. And we’re working as quickly as humanly possible to roll out more widely.
We’ll accelerate the pace at which invitations go out, inviting larger groups each time. If you refer one or two friends, you will move up the list and get an invite sooner - although to access the beta app you will need to be resident in Sweden for tax purposes.
In terms of our plans for a pan-European app, we’re working to a schedule that would see us launch in Q3 this year. We’ve received our passporting authorisation, so we can now offer our app across the EU.
So you have no reason to believe that the situation would have been different if the former CTO or a new CTO was in place. I worked in a startup with a CTO who had to be fired after it reached a certain size because the CTO did not have the have the right mindset once the number of technical people exceeded 10. He couldn’t handle the order of magnitude changes that happened as we got exposed to more and more customers.
Freetrade are almost certainly working with a particular set of constraints that financial services firm have to work with. You can see that it is a firm that is learning quite a lot as it moves - you can also see from other better financed brokers companies that it takes a long time for some things to happen (things have not happened overnight, for example, with Interactive Investor). They have to worry about many different technologies.
I led a totally greenfield project in a major fund management company. No CTO was involved. We had a clear target and objective. The team was possibly the most competent technical team I have ever worked with (and worked in four different countries on three continents). The brilliant thing about our boss was that politics was kept at bay, product managers stayed far away and we made it happen. Hundreds of millions of transactions a second and many many innovative technical things that made things easier for the customer. The boss was a Director of Something or other.
Based on my experience, you might be right that the culture is not the right one. But I would be loathe to say having a CTO fixes it. Technical stuff is not one size fits all. How a 10 person outfit works and a 100 person outfit works are different things. The culture of a company is often set very early and the CTO can’t change much later. Many CTO’s in my experience are not even technical people. When I worked at a major FTSE100 company I had to brief its CTO regularly and keep him primed before Board and Analyst meetings. In anycase, as I have implied, it is not clear to me that (perceived) problems with Freetrade are technical ones as such.
My point is it is IMO fair enough for us to express dissatisfaction as customers or investors with what we are getting. But we should be circumspect with solutions that we offer especially when we don’t know what is happening inside.
We are continuing to onboard Swedish customers to the private beta, where we’re collecting and learning from their feedback. The Swedish app will remain in closed beta while we’re adding a few but important local features, such as the ISK (absolutely necessary to meet local customer needs here in Sweden), and fine-tuning the onboarding experience.
For rest of EU, Ireland is next and our aim is a Q4 launch.