Olivier Rull, co-founder and CEO of Caravel | Olivier Rull, co-founder and CEO of Caravel
Launched in 2020 and elected impact start-up of the year by France Fintech, Caravel aims to establish itself in the supplementary retirement market. With its digital and tailor-made solution, it enables its customers to improve their future income, by directing savings in full transparency on solidarity projects and in favor of the climate.
When was Caravel born and for what purpose?
Olivier Rull: I became aware of the interest of my project by 2019, when the pension reform was presented. I was interested in the debate; noting that my contributions to the current pension system would not earn me much. I learned about other alternatives to saving, but often the offers are sold as simple financial products. It was impossible for me to know where to orientate myself.
So I created Caravel in 2020 to meet this need for support that would allow the saver to see more clearly. We must already admit that the future of work portends increasingly fragmented careers – in several companies and geographical locations. And the way we think about retirement must change.
As a freelance and entrepreneur, the support in the context of my retirement savings would have been a great help! It is this need that I wish to address with Caravel, while bringing as much transparency as possible to savers who wish to know where their money is invested.
Our offer mainly targets freelancers but concerns more and more audiences. Thanks to the portability of the PER (Retirement Savings Plan), many employees of large companies, for example, have chosen to transfer their retirement savings to us. Especially since not all companies have yet set up a PEE (Company Savings Plan).
What do you expect from the pension reform?
Olivier Rull: My conviction is that the French pension system is well done but it will not last if we do not provide the necessary finances to ensure a good quality of life for the self-employed as well as for employees and executives of companies of all sizes. In this sense, it is necessary to follow the recommendations of the Retirement Orientation Council on the need to increase the overall stock of pensions to compensate for the generational replacement rate which is decreasing from year to year.
We must make people aware of the need to take charge individually when it comes to investing your money. It is also recommended on this point to start early to save as you go rather than investing a large sum at once. Likewise, there is a major issue of transparency: many believe that responsible consumption ends with the boycott of certain products sold by large polluting companies, without knowing that their investments can finance these same organizations.
For Benjamin Pedrini (Epsor) , “it is necessary to better supervise the practices around the SRI label to offer more transparency to savers” … What do you think?
Olivier Rull: We obviously share this opinion on the substance and this tis why we do not stop at the SRI label for the design of our own solidarity or environmentally friendly investment plans offered to our clients. We integrate both financial and extra-financial ratings from associations or institutions specializing in responsible finance. For example, we use the tool Climetri cs developed by the NGO CDP to measure the temperature of our portfolios.
The fact is that it is difficult today to have access to transparent reporting on the financial governance of companies. We do not fully trust the SRI label and we verify the investment funds we offer ourselves. Risk-taking must also be taken into account because it often turns out to be stronger within an offer that claims to respond to all responsible issues. For our part, we favor funds that independently meet each component present within the ESG criteria.
Olivier Rull: We must also contribute to this effort of transparency and financial education, especially as the French increasingly share their interest in responsible finance and their desire to regain control over their savings
Is it possible to combine profitability and responsibility in terms of savings?
Olivier Rull: Yes, it is possible and more and more companies are demonstrating it. Today we are witnessing an unprecedented renewal of VSEs, SMEs and ETIs around responsible issues. It is a very rich fabric which gains in power and which shows that combining profitability and responsibility is completely playable.
What sets you apart from traditional employee savings plans?
We offer offers which are on average two times cheaper than those of traditional players and without hidden costs. The ACPR (Prudential Control and Resolution Authority) has also recommended better transparency on the costs related to the opening and management of PER accounts. We provide our customers with a complete list of our fees. Savers are never used to having all these details from traditional banks.
The second advantage is our use of technology, which allows on the one hand, to contribute to our transparency effort and on the other hand, to save us time in our administrative management and therefore reduce our costs. A large part of the traditional players still do this work on paper and waste a lot of time reprocessing information from their distributors. At Caravel, our system is interoperable with our entire ecosystem and this is what allows us to reduce the price of our offers.
There is an over-representation of the major CAC groups 26 within SRI labeled funds and polluting organizations are sometimes present in the investment lines … How to overcome this problem?
Olivier Rull: A reform of the SRI label was first announced a few months ago, noting that the criteria were too broad. I think that French – even European – regulations must give savers the means to make informed choices. This does not prevent professional savings players like us from becoming more responsible now.
We must also contribute to this effort of transparency and financial education, d ‘especially since the French increasingly share their interest in responsible finance and their desire to regain control over their savings. It also involves deconstructing their prejudices: for example, thinking that you can diversify your investments by increasing the number of savings products, without checking that these are not managed by the same entity.
What advice can be given to employees who have questions about their employee savings plan? Why should we anticipate?
Olivier Rull: The fight we lead remains the same: to raise awareness that retirement savings must be considered on an individual basis. It must correspond to the professional career of the saver and his own values in terms of financial responsibility. Transparency must therefore prevail over the cost and return of contributions to savings plans and vis-à-vis the investment vehicles involved.
To read also: The year 2019 has proven the relevance of the SRI approach, will the movement continue?