· Podcast Episodes
Money is not the problem and money is not the solution Dr Lili Sussman from Wisr Today

Have you ever found yourself worrying about money despite earning a decent salary? You're not alone. In fact, nearly half of Australians report feeling stressed about their finances. It's hard to change and people think that it requires deprivation, an iron will and a spreadsheet.

Lily Sussman is the chief Strategy Officer at Wisr and a driving force behind the Wisr Today app.

She believes that bad habits are formed over time, and not all of them serve us well. Ordering takeaway when we're tired, or shopping when we're bored can add up to significant amounts of money over the course of a year. Lili believes that to change our habits, we need to work with our brain's natural design.

“Like that's just not how the brain changes. You know, those are very often deeply entrenched, established neuro pathways where you'd have to build a fresh and different neuro pathway that ends in a dopamine hit with a positive reinforcement mechanism. And that has to happen over and over again. And it's going to build a competing pathway with the old one. And that takes time and repetition and all those behaviors are already established. And so to change them, you'll have to work with your brain to do it. You can't just go make a resolution, get a spreadsheet, get work out a budget and do it. That's just literally going to be against the way your brain wants to live.”

It's important to be kind to yourself during this process. Change takes time and it's normal to slip up. Don't be hard on yourself.

"What, what are the thoughts? What is your inner critic voice? Everybody's got one right? In different areas of their life. And it very often, like our inner critic when we're trying to change a habit is persistently black and white. They're like, you failed to give up. You know, you didn't do this today, give up, or you are not the kind of person who can do this. You're, you know, lots of people come into our user base and tried out the app and they're like, yeah, you know what, for the longest time I've just felt like I'm bad with money and I have the story that I'm bad with money."

Focussing on one habit at a time and making small changes can give you a dopamine hit. Congratulate yourself with simple changes like only buying 2 coffees a day instead of 4. Positive reinforcement can help to cement new habits.


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Chloe (2s):
Shares For beginners,

Lili Sussman Wisr (4s):
Also, the psychology and addressing and understanding what's happening inside your head, your thoughts and emotions. What, what are the thoughts? What is your inner critic voice? Everybody's got one right in different areas of their life. And it very often, like our inner critic when we're trying to change a habit, is persistently black and white. They're like, you failed to give up, or you are not the kind of person who can do this.

Phil Muscatello (31s):
Good day and welcome back to Shares for Beginners. I'm Phil Muscatello. How can behavioral science help change your attitude to money? Why is it so hard to act and think on our personal finances? Joining me today is Lily Sussman, chief Strategy Officer at Wisr. Hello Lily.

Lili Sussman Wisr (49s):
Hello, Phil.

Phil Muscatello (51s):
Thanks very much for coming along. We've actually been chatting here for about 20 minutes before the interview, so that's

Lili Sussman Wisr (57s):
Okay. We'll, I hope we've still got, can just start afresh? Yeah,

Phil Muscatello (59s):
That's right. I hope we've still got something to talk about.

Lili Sussman Wisr (1m 2s):

Phil Muscatello (1m 3s):
Wisr is Australia's first neo lender and a FinTech that builds products, apps and services to help Australians with their money. So before we get into it, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Lili Sussman Wisr (1m 15s):
Yeah, so I am originally from China and I moved to the US when I was almost nine, and I went to middle high school in the Hudson Valley, so, which is about 90 minutes north of New York City. And then when it was time to go to university, I actually went to the UK and I studied at Oxford. And that was eye-opening because it was such a different culture yet again, even though I spoke English, you know, not British English, but absolutely wonderful and beautiful experience and kind of gave me a taste for how much I love just being able to experience different cultures and be challenged like that.

Lili Sussman Wisr (1m 54s):
And you know, I, I immigrated to Australia about eight and a half years ago, and now have the privilege of being a citizen here. And, you know, it's another eye-opening experience. And I've worked across many countries, Canada, us, uk, China, Australia, and I've done lots of different things. I have a number of different degrees, which means a lot of education that I don't use every day. I've worked in public, private and not-for-profit sectors in a range of industries. And I think, you know, I'm sort of a generalist. What I like to do is just be really creative and solve human problems.

Phil Muscatello (2m 35s):
So I believe that you've, there's experiences in your life which have really informed the way that you're approaching life right now.

Lili Sussman Wisr (2m 45s):
Yes. Five and a half years ago, I had a traumatic brain injury due to something falling on my head on an airplane. And it really changed me. It really was so confronting and I lost my brain and I had the experience of someone who didn't have a functioning brain, and then I had to build it up back over the course of years. And through that it really deepened my compassion and my, I guess, love for everybody who is suffering in some way, which is all of us. You

Phil Muscatello (3m 23s):
Know, how, how long did it take to recover and how, how, how bad did it get?

Lili Sussman Wisr (3m 28s):
Well, I, you know, when it was bad, I couldn't read, I couldn't listen to anything. I couldn't walk on the street. I couldn't parent, I really couldn't do anything. So it was, it was very, very difficult. But, and it's taken me years, I'd say I'm still recovering, but I'm working full time now. I feel like I have a lot more brain energy for both work and life now. So I'm so grateful. I'm so grateful for the recovery and for the experience and all the lessons and it's absolutely made me who I am and it's made me really committed to helping to heal what suffering there is. And I know there's so much suffering out there and it kind of makes me, reminds me of my purpose and what I absolutely love to do when I think about it.

Lili Sussman Wisr (4m 19s):
So it's actually a reason to be grateful.

Phil Muscatello (4m 22s):
So your education, work experience and experiences otherwise now inform the work that you do at Wisr. Tell us a bit more about that.

Lili Sussman Wisr (4m 31s):
I am really excited to be here because I always love talking about our purpose. Wisr is a purpose-led company and our purpose is financial wellness. Wellness, which I think of as as financial health. And I think, you know, it's something that we're really, really passionate about and I know more and more people are getting really interested in, but something the financial sector actually hasn't explored too much because traditional financial services really about financial services and are about the financial system and less about helping people and humans have a really good experience with relationship with money in a way that actually makes them financially healthy or financially well.

Lili Sussman Wisr (5m 18s):
Because when we think about financially healthier financially well, we're thinking about money like, oh, do we just have enough money that makes me financially well, but all the research actually shows that's not the case, you know? And how many of us really feel like we have enough money regardless of how much money we actually have. So it's an interesting field and it very much touches on what you started with, which is, it really is about the human brain and human behavior and our deeper relationship with money and psychology. That's really why I'm here to really talk more about that and to talk about the paradox of money and financial health, because I think it's deeply mysterious and ill understood, and yet so important.

Lili Sussman Wisr (6m 1s):
So I wanna start a fresh conversation in our culture about it.

Phil Muscatello (6m 4s):
So what is the paradox?

Lili Sussman Wisr (6m 6s):
Ooh, so, well, we think that money is the solution. Like money is the problem and money is the solution, but money's not the problem and money's not the solution. But we need to take money more seriously because it's a valuable resource that we can manage well or not well. And that will help get us to really understanding the problem and the solution. And for most of us, you know, the problem is that we, we are often struggling with money. We feel like we don't have enough, we don't feel secure, we don't feel free. Money comes in and then disappears, goes out, you know, and it's really stressful and we feel like there's something that other people knows that we don't know.

Lili Sussman Wisr (6m 49s):
So the paradox is kind of like, we know that it's a stressor, but we're approaching it like a mathematical rational thing when it's not, it's an emotional thing. And it's very much about our brains and our hidden habits and how do we turn that conversation

Phil Muscatello (7m 6s):
Into. So the A spreadsheet's not the answer then?

Lili Sussman Wisr (7m 9s):
No, there's so much evidence showing that budgeting does not work for the people, that it doesn't work for.

Phil Muscatello (7m 14s):
Really? Is that like weight loss where people go on a diet and then they put it back on again? It's the diet is not the solution. Is that the same thing with the budget?

Lili Sussman Wisr (7m 23s):
Absolutely. So restrictive dieting doesn't work, right? And we all have known that crash dieting doesn't work. Lots of us have had the experience of, I wanna lose weight, I resolve to do something, I joined the gym, I start a diet and I'm excited for one day. The next day I'm sore or I'm hungry and I just give up, you know, a lot of all or nothing thinking. And those approaches don't work. You can't just go in and change. Something is established as a set of behaviors saying not exercising or not eating in a certain way. We can't just make that habit change.

Lili Sussman Wisr (8m 3s):
Like that's just not how the brain changes. You know, those are very often deeply entrenched, established neuro pathways where you'd have to build a fresh and different neuro pathway that ends in a dopamine hit with a positive reinforcement mechanism. And that has to happen over and over again. And it's going to build a competing pathway with the old one. And that takes time and repetition and all those behaviors are already established. And so to change them, you'll have to work with your brain to do it. You can't just go make a resolution, get a spreadsheet, get work out a budget and do it. That's just literally going to be against the way your brain wants to live.

Phil Muscatello (8m 45s):
Where do these behaviors come from? How do they get developed? What, what's, what have you seen amongst your research?

Lili Sussman Wisr (8m 52s):
It's a question of multiple layers. Because at the very most important, like simple layer, every behavior is a result of something called your behavior chain, which is trigger thought or emotion, action and consequence. And so the things that you can effect are the thoughts and emotions and the triggers, the consequences are set by the actions that you do. So everybody has different triggers for specific behaviors. You know, you might have emotional triggers, you might have social pressure triggers, you might have environmental triggers, you might have, you know, physical triggers.

Lili Sussman Wisr (9m 34s):
Like let's say that, you know, something I do is when I'm on the train, you know, sometimes I am online shopping. And the trigger for that behavior, which is the action, is that I'm bored. I'm sitting on the train and I'm bored and I don't know what to do with myself. And I'm not going through an extensive investigation of my options because this is routinely what I do. It's just my brain's taking the shortcut and I'm doing the habitual thing, which is I'm gonna shop. And doing that makes me feel useful. You know, shopping can feel like a useful thing to do and something that seems like it's a reasonable solution to the problem of boredom.

Lili Sussman Wisr (10m 16s):
So we develop these habits and then they become unconscious. We don't even know we have them. And then sometimes they just totally kill the wallet. And then you realize that, you know, where did it all go? You know, I worked really hard and I got all this pay, but then where did it all go? Hmm. And it went to unconscious habits, and it should be unconscious because that's how the brain's designed. Mm. So to change that, it's really about building awareness of the behavior chain. And

Phil Muscatello (10m 42s):
What about parents? People often learn their money behaviors from parents as well, and they, they become even more deeply ingrained, don't they?

Lili Sussman Wisr (10m 49s):
Absolutely. So we talked about the behavior chain, which is your triggers, your thoughts and emotions, actions, but where did that come from? Hmm. Right? Why do you have the thoughts and emotions that you do have in response to those triggers? Very often they are learned and they're inherited thoughts and emotions. You know, there are things that we've copied growing up, and again that's very unconscious because we, we, our brains are formed at a early age and we don't know that they are being formed. So a lot of stuff, you know, as we age and we form our own families of origin, we start having to unpack and investigate the family of origins that we had come from.

Lili Sussman Wisr (11m 34s):
And said, okay, what do I wanna keep versus throw out what's working for me? What's not working for me? And a lot of our money, behavior trains and the thoughts and emotions there are inherited. And then when we examine them, we're like, wait a minute, is this really helping me? You know, is this even me? And very often the answer is no. But you have to go through that process of conscious investigation for that to bubble up. Hmm. Because otherwise it's just, it's there, right? It's unconscious and it's there and you don't even know how it's acting upon your behavior.

Phil Muscatello (12m 7s):
So what's this, what happens? What do you think is the trigger for people? Actually, before we even go into the next question, I just wanna say, I want to talk to listeners about why we've got you on a, a podcast about the share market, but I think people have actually gotta get to the stage where they've got enough money to invest and often they can't even start investing because they don't even have an emergency fund, they don't have any savings, they've got nothing left over because they get to their next week's pay packet and there's nothing left. That's all been spent. Yeah. So this is a really important point, isn't it, for people to understand before they can actually start to invest.

Lili Sussman Wisr (12m 44s):
I think it's important for everybody because just because you have money to invest doesn't mean that you don't feel like you need more money. I mean, most of us feel like we're not secure enough yet. Like we're not taken care of for life, you know, and we're not as free as we wanna be. And there's all these kind of things we'd love to do if we had more money, right? So I don't think it's just for those of us who have that perpetual experience of money coming in and all going out, even for those of us that have, you know, things left over. Like, you know, you've, you're building a deposit or you already have property, you know, but you still wanna grow your wealth more, you know, and you wanna understand how to invest and not just, not just kind of do the basics, but, you know, be even more savvy.

Lili Sussman Wisr (13m 30s):
I feel like that's everybody, and that's really common. And the feeling of stress around money and feeling like, okay, I need more. It's still stressful. How do I get more? Am I gonna be happier if I have more? Same persistent issue. So money is kind of a, just a central problem because even when you have it, you're like, well, what do I do with it? Am I doing the right things with it? You know, why am I still not happy? You know, I think the psychology of money, it doesn't leave us.

Phil Muscatello (14m 4s):
There's also the comparison thing as well, isn't it? Because you're often got a, you're in a group of people and a group of friends and of various means, you know, some people have been born with, you know, a fair bit of money and there's the comparison going on as well. And you want to match your lifestyle with the social group that you are in as well. And you wanna go into those overseas weddings that your friends are going to and all of that. And this can be huge drawdowns on the money that you're trying to live on and build for yourself, can't they?

Lili Sussman Wisr (14m 32s):
Yeah, Absolutely. And social pressure is one of the biggest triggers that cause us to feel like we have to use our money in a certain way. Hmm. But just knowing that that is a trigger, knowing that you probably have an automatic response, like you've got a thought, which is like, I have to do this does not mean that it can't be changed. Hmm. You know, it's, you can't be hard on yourself because you're engaging in social comparison because we're hardwired to engage in social comparison. Hmm. So it's okay to do that. However, there's also a lot of room for us to create our own independent space to say, okay, I've compared, and I have this initial reaction that, you know, I wish I were more like that or wish I could or, but then I don't actually have to follow that thought that came up, but is it helpful to me?

Lili Sussman Wisr (15m 24s):
And what are my own values? What is enough for me? What's my vision of a good life? Because if we don't start working on that and defining that, then we're just constantly captive. Not only into social comparison, but all the other triggers. There are like a lot of marketing constantly bombarded by environmental triggers in marketing. Right? We're gonna be really captive to all of that. And that's where all of our money's gonna go. You know, there's some people who are just sort of wholehearted people and they're like, yeah, I know my house isn't as big. Or Yeah, I know my house is a bit messy and, but I'm just really, I'm content. Like, I'm grateful. You know? And that is not because they have more money than everybody else, it's because they've done the work of figuring out their money psychology and they've aligned their money and their money habits to what really matters to them.

Phil Muscatello (16m 11s):
Even sometimes when people accuse 'em of being cheap skates

Lili Sussman Wisr (16m 15s):
Of course. And they're allowed to

Phil Muscatello (16m 16s):
And there's a lot of pressure, you know, there's a lot of pressure from people you know. Absolutely. And you don't wanna be called a cheap skate, do you?

Lili Sussman Wisr (16m 21s):
No. Well, you don't want to be thought badly of by anyone on any dimension. Right. And, and that's why social triggers are in some cases the most difficult triggers to change a behavior chain. But again, being aware of that and really think about it.I, I guess it's also focusing what you want and need out of life, isn't it? It comes down to that. It is. And I think, you know, if you call me a cheap skate, right? I, I have to first accept that that's okay, that's from your perspective. Right? But I also know that it isn't me being parsimonious and greedy and not caring about you. And that's what cheapskate implies.

Lili Sussman Wisr (17m 1s):
It means I'm selfish and I'm more concerned about my own money hoarding than I am about taking care of you and our friendship. That's kind of what it implies, right? Which is the last thing you wanna feel as a friend, but what you, but you can know that actually I do love you as a friend and I'm not, not buying this, I'm not saying no to rounds because I don't love my friends. Right? I love you, but I'm showing it in a different way. Hmm. Right? And that requires a conversation. And you can't just expect someone to go and have that conversation. It's awkward. So we need a lot of help to have those conversations, which is why, you know, I think we're doing the work that we're doing, recognizing that there's this huge need out there.

Lili Sussman Wisr (17m 48s):
Hmm. How do you respond to all these triggers in a different way? How do you actually get coach to go on this journey and change that? It isn't, doesn't just happen

Phil Muscatello (18m 2s):
Wiser draws on the research of clinical and research psychologists. How is that information used in the information that you're trying to impart to customers?

Lili Sussman Wisr (18m 15s):
Oh, so we've worked with researchers and psychologists to develop our coaching because what we've done is taken proven interventions and then use tech to digitize them so it can become both affordable and scalable. And there's nothing out there that really marries psychology and behavior science with money. So we've done a lot of adaptation of the proven interventions for how do you change human behavior on any dimension and how do you help someone walk into their own psychology in a light way, but using tech to do it. So what we found is people were all super busy and, you know, frantic running around every day, taking care of our kids, trying to get, you know, to work on time and nobody has a lot of time.

Lili Sussman Wisr (19m 1s):
So if change is gonna be effective, it has to take no time. So it's, you know, we've built it so that the experience of getting coached is only five minutes a day. Super snappy, you know? And if you skip days, that's okay, because we're all human. I guarantee you, you will skip days. You know, it's not linear, but there's also using tech and accountability mechanism there. It's always in your phone, you know, you get notifications like you're reminded, you know, you know it's there. And over time you develop the habit of using the app, just doing your coaching, you know, as part of a routine. Like, drink my morning coffee, do my coaching. And then it gets in your head, right? It starts changing over time.

Lili Sussman Wisr (19m 41s):
And then there's all these actions in the app. Like we work on one habit at a time, and the biggest habits people come in have said, okay, the first habit I wanna work on is how much I use buy now, pay later, or the number of times that I do take away, which I just feel like it's too much. Or clothes shopping or buying stuff online or dining out and, you know, these are habits that I just feel like it would be better if I maybe scaled them down. But how do you do that? It's really hard. So the app actually supports you to do that and uses the five minutes of psychology to do it. So we've digitized a proven science of behavior change and we turn it into bite-sized format that uses tech to make it effective and to make it engaging and to make it always with you so that you've got the steps by step guidance.

Lili Sussman Wisr (20m 28s):
You can make money goals a reality. It's not just like a goal setting workshop or it's not like confirming that, yes, I would like to buy a house, but it's like, how, how do you actually, what am I gonna change in my day to day such that that becomes a reality, right? Instead of it being like 10 years away, it becomes three years away because I'm making concrete changes, but I can't just make those changes because my brain is on autopilot, it's unconscious. So I really need a lot of help. And that's what we're here for and that's what the wisr today app's all about.

Phil Muscatello (20m 59s):
Hmm. Take away. It's a real problem. Is it for people?

Lili Sussman Wisr (21m 2s):

Phil Muscatello (21m 3s):
Absolutely. I mean, people, people are working hard, you know, sometimes they feel like I've, you know, I haven't got the energy left to cook a meal at the end of the day. And it's just easy to call up and get the, the delivery.

Lili Sussman Wisr (21m 14s):
Exactly. Who does, of course, you know, all of our habits probably evolve to solve a problem. And it's interesting to delve into what that problem is and are there other ways to solve it that we can practice and then get positively reinforced for that actually feel better. And oftentimes there are, right? But you're not, you don't need to go from, okay, I do take away every day to I'm gonna start cooking every night. Like, that's not, that's, that's kind of like trying to go on a crash diet. You know? Behavior change is about baby steps. It's about realistic little baby steps that are positively reinforced.

Lili Sussman Wisr (21m 54s):
So it's not gonna be that, but it could be like, I've resisted one takeaway this week. I've actually, you know, bought a pre-made meal from the grocery store or, or something else. You know, there's lots of creative ways. So we would work, you know, the, the guidance app, it's interactive. Like, you'll sort of work out what works for you and based on your own triggers, your own psychology, how that habits lives and fits into your life routine. It really needs to work for your every day. You know, if I never had the habit of going to the gym, right? I, and, but my news resolution is I am gonna, I'm gonna sign up for a gym membership and I'm gonna go to the gym if I try to do more than baby step, like, I'm like, duh, I'm just, I'm energetic today.

Lili Sussman Wisr (22m 39s):
I've just signed up. I'm gonna do an hour long class. What I'm going to be really sore tomorrow and maybe I can keep up my motivation and come back tomorrow, but then really I'm sore and I'm done. You know? And I was like, Ugh, I can't make myself stick to this. Forget it. You know? So you can really easily go too hard too fast. And that's a human tendency cuz we just want quick results and we're very impatient, right? But again, like that's against how the brain actually wants to change, which is only a little bit at a time and kind of meandering. And so successful change is really about baby steps and s and most importantly celebrating yourself taking baby steps.

Lili Sussman Wisr (23m 23s):
The problem is that we we're really used to all or nothing thinking black and white thinking. We're like, either I've succeeded or if I haven't, I failed. Right? If I'm trying to diet, but I ate fried chicken and beer and now I'm gonna give up my diet because what's the point? I already ruined it. Right? That's black and white thinking that's like I've, I've had a slip up and it's ruined. Whereas baby steps is like, yeah, I have fried chicken and beer, but for lunch I had some veggies. Awesome. You know, yesterday I didn't have veggies or I had more like, you gotta celebrate the things you are doing and especially the small things as opposed to focus on the things you're not doing or your slip-ups because negative reinforcement does not generate behavior change.

Phil Muscatello (24m 8s):
How does positive reinforcement work in that situation where you're trying to stop yourself from doing a certain behavior?

Lili Sussman Wisr (24m 15s):
Yeah, so one of the things we've built into the app, like we have a habit tracker is one of the features. So we work on one habit of time. Let's say you're like, you know what, I actually spend a bunch of money buying a couple of coffees a day and I love my coffee. I don't wanna give it up altogether, but maybe I don't need to be buying four coffees a day. Like maybe I'll just scale it down a bit. Right? That could be a goal for a habit change. So if you're doing that, you really need to have a way of really quickly and easily tracking, okay, I was tempted and at this moment I wanted to have a coffee, but I didn't. That is something to be positive reinforced for, right? Whereas if I'm just constantly berating myself for the coffees I did have, I'm just gonna, that's not gonna make me wanna change.

Lili Sussman Wisr (25m 2s):
Whereas if somebody's there celebrating me for the fact that I could have, but I didn't, then I'm more motivated to do it tomorrow. So positive reinforcement is about the little things. It's like I was tempted, I noticed it and then I didn't. And I'm really proud of that.

Phil Muscatello (25m 20s):
And you've got a reason for being proud of it as well, presumably.

Lili Sussman Wisr (25m 24s):
Yeah. Well that's, that's the, I think our brains tend to be very self-critical.

Phil Muscatello (25m 30s):
That's right. Exactly. Because it's very hard to positively reinforce yourself. Exactly. Exactly. We've got that inner, that inner dialogue going on all the time telling us how how crap we are often.

Lili Sussman Wisr (25m 41s):
Exactly. So that's why I'm saying also the psychology and addressing and understanding what's happening inside your head, your thoughts and emotions. What, what are the thoughts? What is your inner critic voice? Everybody's got one right? In different areas of their life. And it very often, like our inner critic when we're trying to change a habit is persistently black and white. They're like, you failed to give up. You know, you didn't do this today, give up, or you are not the kind of person who can do this. You're, you know, lots of people come into our user base and tried out the app and they're like, yeah, you know what, for the longest time I've just felt like I'm bad with money and I have the story that I'm bad with money.

Lili Sussman Wisr (26m 23s):
Well, that's a persistent thought and that's your inner critic saying that. So is there an alternative way? And there's a lot of kind of exploration and coaching around even identifying what, what's the flavor of your inner critic, but then also what's an alternative? So, and, and practicing those. So there's,

Phil Muscatello (26m 45s):
There's so many inner critics, aren't they? Yeah. Well it's not just one voice, isn't it? There's many of them.

Lili Sussman Wisr (26m 49s):
That's the thing. And we probably watched our parents inner critics too, you know, I think we can't, we have to be kind toward our own brains, right? The brain is designed to protect us. So a lot of it's like warning, anxiety, danger, keep us safe. Mm. You know, so there's a lot of negativity swirling in there, but it doesn't have to be that way. Like you can actively work with your brain and change it. Yeah. You just have to support it and be self-compassion and self-loving as you do it. And it doesn't have to feel natural and in fact won't feel natural. That's why you need a five minutes coach in your pocket every day.

Lili Sussman Wisr (27m 32s):
Because if you could do it naturally on your own, you already would. We'd all love not to have such a persistent inner critic and we'd love to support ourselves to achieve and do whatever we want, including any habit change, right? We want that, but that's not what our brains are designed to do. So we all deserve and need that little bit extra of support.

Phil Muscatello (27m 52s):
Wisr. An neo lender, what's an neo lender? What's that mean?

Lili Sussman Wisr (27m 56s):
Yeah, so Wisr started out we're a purpose-led company focused on financial wellness. We started out doing lending because we saw huge opportunity in Australia where if you look at the UK and American markets where fintechs are much more advanced, they've taken about 40% of market share in those economies. And there's a lot more competition with the big banks there. And in Australia is very much still a oligopoly and that has both strengths and weaknesses. You know, very strong banking system that's weathered the gfc. So very strong banks and that's fantastic. You know, that's a really good strength of the financial system here.

Phil Muscatello (28m 33s):
And big ownership in the, in share portfolios of the banks as well. Big part of the, the stock market.

Lili Sussman Wisr (28m 39s):
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And you know,

Phil Muscatello (28m 41s):
Much as we like to bitch about them.

Lili Sussman Wisr (28m 43s):
No, no. They, they're important part of the supers portfolios and everybody's retirement and everything is so I think the banks do a fantastic job and are, are very important to the economy here. Mm. But at the same time, because of the oligopoly, there's not as much competition. So the sense where, in the area where consumers are really, really overpaying for credit and getting a very, very bad deal. So we saw that compared to the UK and the US and we thought, you know, there's a real opportunity for more competition just consumers to get a better deal. And so we called ourselves a new lender because really we're ethical lender and really thinking about how to make sure that, you know, if someone can't afford it, then they don't get debt that is gonna put them in hardship, right?

Lili Sussman Wisr (29m 37s):
Hmm. Or, and that's going to kind of cause stress. So I think we take responsible any really seriously and have always wanted to offer a fairer and smarter alternative to Australians. And that's why we're having this conversation today about financial health because it's deeper than just financial services. There's access, accessing good financial services, whether it's credit or investment or you know, any RA payments, a range of different services. But ultimately if we wanna help financial wellness, we have to put the human at the center. And what is the problem here? The problem is that people have a vexed relationship with money and money habits that they like to improve, but that they can't.

Lili Sussman Wisr (30m 23s):
And so, yeah, it's the first money and psychology app that's out there and we're really hoping that people give it a try. You know, it's very new cuz there's nothing else like it. So in some ways it's hard to explain. Yeah. But I think

Phil Muscatello (30m 37s):
Actually, I've gotta admit that I was, I actually got a lot more understanding of it. Talking to Betsy this morning, who introduced us, Betsy, who's been on the podcaster couple of times, financial coach, who's wonderful. Hello Betsy.

Lili Sussman Wisr (30m 49s):
Hi Betsy.

Phil Muscatello (30m 51s):
And yeah, she was explaining it to me as well because again, it is, it is a difficult concept to get your head around as well because we're so used to the idea that a financial institution is just about the numbers and about what you can afford to be loaned and really is a system for making money within the financial services industry. But you're focusing more on the customer and the people and trying to improve their ability to run their financial lives as well and to understand themselves.

Lili Sussman Wisr (31m 20s):
Yeah. And I don't even think you need the goal of understanding yourself. I think it's just a simple analogy, like in health, right? If we're thinking about our health, and if we're not, well, you know, we wanna be healthier, we know that there's some behavior change required, right? We probably have to stop smoking, probably have to eat healthier, might need to, you know, change our exercise levels.

Phil Muscatello (31m 40s):
Yeah. We all, we all know the basics, don't we?

Lili Sussman Wisr (31m 42s):
Yeah, exactly. Right. Nobody knows the basics of money. It's exactly the same thing. If I wanna be financially healthier, I need to change my behaviors, right? But there's lit, there's just nothing out there. Like what behaviors, you know, everybody's got a different constellation of money habits, but which ones, what are the ones that I wanna work on? How do I work on that? You know, most of us have the experience of, I have no idea where my money goes. And by the way, the cost of living is really high, right? So I have all these behaviors around money, I don't know what they are. It's very hard to keep track of because they're unconscious. So it's not my fault that I'm not keeping track of it and I don't know, right? It takes a lot of, it takes very deliberate intervention to change that, to be like, okay, let's pick one habit and then the next habit, the next habit we're gonna work on one at a time.

Lili Sussman Wisr (32m 29s):
And then let's con use the signs of behavior change and actually help you do that and then start seeing real results. And if we are taking care of our health, we would know immediately that, you know, we need something to help us change our behavior. It's exactly the same thing in money. It's just the culture has completely not woken up to that. So we're having, that's the paradox this time we're having a sideways conversation about something else that doesn't really matter. What matters is our health and our financial health, right? Because it's just our lives.

Phil Muscatello (33m 1s):
And don't be hard on yourselves.

Lili Sussman Wisr (33m 2s):

Phil Muscatello (33m 4s):
So if people start using the app, what kind of examples do you have of people saving money? How much can, how much money do people save?

Lili Sussman Wisr (33m 11s):
Well, the average user saves thousands of dollars because they start rewiring habits one by one. And every single habit that we have adds up to thousands over the course of a year. So if you have a hundred dollars a week habit, that's over $5,000 a year. Mm. And so usually about two to three habits is a difference between my having an emergency fund and not, or the difference between my having discretionary money to invest and grow versus not. So it's actually not as difficult as we all think how to achieve our goals and, and move forward it. But it is about connecting every day to that. So it's like, okay, which habits am I actually wanting to?

Lili Sussman Wisr (33m 53s):
And would I be happier if I scale down? And again, I, you know, can't stress enough deprivation and negative reinforcement. Anything that feels bad doesn't get the brain to change. So change happens when it feels good. So by definition, if you're gonna change your habits and the change is happening, it is gonna feel good. So the solution is find the paths of habit change that feel good, rewire one to three habits, and you're well on your way to achieving all of your financial goals. And so we've got all the financial coaching and the psychology coaching that you need and it's five minutes a day and it's a massive opportunity really, and a way of investing in yourself with very little cost.

Phil Muscatello (34m 38s):
How can listeners find out more about Wisr?

Lili Sussman Wisr (34m 40s):
Well go to our website or go to the app store and look. So

Phil Muscatello (34m 43s):
It's wisr without an E, isn't

Lili Sussman Wisr (34m 45s):
It? Yep. It's W I S R. Go to the app store and search Wisr Today it's on the Google Play store and the app store. Do a bit of digging. You can listen to the podcast that are out there. You can have a look at our website. There's links to the podcast that we've done just to explain what the science is and what it's all about. And you can read the reviews and also it's free to try. So there's a free trial period, it's a two week field free trial period if you wanna try an annual plan. You don't get charged until your free trial is finished. And we remind you before so that you don't get caught in it.

Lili Sussman Wisr (35m 27s):
And if you're wanting to go the month to month option, then you get a week free trial. Either way, you get to experience what the coaching feels like and see if you start saving money right away. Most of our users do, they start working on a habit right away and they are tracking it and noticing the change within a week or two. So experience it for yourself.

Phil Muscatello (35m 53s):
Lilly Sessman, thank you very much for joining me today.

Lili Sussman Wisr (35m 56s):
Thank you.

Phil Muscatello (35m 57s):
If you found this podcast helpful, please tell a friend, especially if it's someone who needs to start thinking about investing for their future, you'll be helping them and helping me to keep this show on the road

4 (36m 8s):
Shares for beginners is for information and educational purposes only. It isn't financial advice and you shouldn't buy or sell any investments based on what you've heard here. Any opinion or commentary is the view of the speaker only not shares for beginners. This podcast doesn't replace professional advice regarding your personal financial needs, circumstances, or current situation.

Phil Muscatello (36m 27s):
And thank you for listening to my podcast.

Shares for Beginners is for information and educational purposes only. It isn’t financial advice, and you shouldn’t buy or sell any investments based on what you’ve heard here. Any opinion or commentary is the view of the speaker only not Shares for Beginners. This podcast doesn’t replace professional advice regarding your personal financial needs, circumstances or current situation