Many of you who signed up for Neighborly have reached out to ask why you’re not yet able to invest in your community. We’re just as eager for that moment as you are and want to share our progress in making that vision a reality for everybody.
First, we’re building a next-generation brokerage which makes investing in the park down the street as easy and affordable as buying stock in Google. Business as usual won’t work any longer in public finance. To reverse the assumption that investors don’t buy bonds, but are sold to, we are replacing a clunky, fax machine driven process with an elegant online experience.Second, we’re building an advanced set of public finance data tools, which everybody involved in the market needs to make good decisions. The public finance market is extremely opaque, despite being built on public data – from how many children are enrolled in a school district, to what debt that school has previously issued. Collecting and organizing this data is difficult because it’s spread across a range of sources, such as government and regulator websites and third parties who charge for access. The information is frequently inconsistent and locked up in PDFs. As a result, the basic research tools we take for granted in other investment markets don’t exist. Want to run a simple search to find investment opportunities near you? You know, like a search engine? How about comparing this school district to 3 others like it? Not possible today. How can we expect investors to make informed investment decisions if they can’t easily research the investments?
Put simply, without high quality data on public finance and the tools to work with that data, we couldn’t ship the platform that would serve the next generation of investors.
So we built our own tools.
Building the best collection of data on the public finance market is a huge task and one that has opened our eyes to how to best serve investors like you. The more we spoke with the market professionals who help public agencies raise $1 billion a day, the more we were struck by a couple of things. First, they are some of the most mission-driven, community-focused individuals you’ll find in finance. Second, even in multi-billion dollar organizations, they are saddled with the same problems that investors are – finding and understanding the data they need to make decisions.Why should we, or you, care about problems being faced by public finance professionals? Because every minute a professional spends struggling to find data or do simple analysis costs you and your community money. That makes it harder for the school down the street to raise the capital they need to fulfill their mission and harder for you to invest in that school.
So, one of our first steps to make it possible for anyone to invest in anywhere is to make next-generation public finance tools available to these market professionals. This will make the public finance market more efficient and transparent, making the investment opportunities we present to you that much better, more comprehensible and trustworthy.
We’re excited to release these tools to the world and deliver better outcomes for everyone. In the coming months we’ll be sharing more on our progress and when you will be able to invest in the places you live, work and play.