Newcastle financial planning start-up Bamboo has young clients in its sights

Future planning: “I’ve been so against debt and I’ve been in financial planning my whole life,” says Zac Atallah. Picture: Simone de Peak.
Future planning: “I’ve been so against debt and I’ve been in financial planning my whole life,” says Zac Atallah. Picture: Simone de Peak.

AT 24, Zac Atallah is often startled by how little people around his age know about financial planning and wealth creation.

But then, those same people wouldn’t have dreamed up a “primitive” version of a hedge fund at 16, like he did. 

“I’m a bit weird like that,” Mr Atallah says with a laugh.

Now armed with a diploma in financial planning and studying marketing and finance, Mr Atallah is poised to launch the online financial planning platform Bamboo.

He says it is squarely aimed at people around his age who are in their first jobs but either lack the knowledge to start a financial portfolio or lack funding for advice.

Mr Atallah was working as a paraplanner at Bell Financial Service’s Newcastle office when friends kept asking him about ways to maximise their savings and super.

“People would ask me ‘What do I invest in’, and I’d tell them about a SMA (Separately Managed Account) portfolios … but they couldn’t afford the advice to warrant investing,” he says.

Bamboo offers a structured online application that is self-driven, offering the user financial information and asking them questions to test their knowledge and investment preferences.

It has partnered with global asset managers BlackRock to offer five portfolios that Mr Atallah says give people access to investments typically reserved for the wealthy.

The Exchange Traded Funds and SMA portfolios are like bank accounts that hold assets rather than cash, and Bamboo customers can deposit funds into their account in alignment with their portfolio allocation.  

Mr Atallah says Bamboo lowers fees by up to 70 per cent for those starting their financial journey. He says while a financial advisor will charge about 1.1 per cent plus an establishment fee, Bamboo charges an ongoing fee of .35 per cent, and with BlackRock’s fee and other costs, users pay no more than .8 per cent in total.

“If you look at what we charge compared to a standard retail super fund, which charges 1.5 to 2 per cent in admin fees alone … we are pretty much blowing them out of the water,” he says.

Mr Atallah says he did not come from a wealthy family and was lucky to win a scholarship to The King’s School, a private school in Parramatta. Driven by a family work ethic – since leaving Bell to start Bamboo his odd jobs have included digging ditches for a landscaper friend – he says his new project is all about helping others.

“An advisor will want to go after the largest asset but ... we are after people my age who are starting their career and don’t understand the concept of wealth creation or investing,” he says. “We give them time to focus on their career, the time they would have spent trying to learn it.”