Kendall Flutey of Banqer

Kendall's on a mission to teach kids about money, creating an online educational programme that helps young New Zealanders develop financial literacy skills.

Kendall Flutey and Kiwibank are lifting the next generation

To look at her CV now, you’d assume the young co-CEO had everything mapped out from the day she left high school. But while Kendall Flutey (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu) expected she’d eventually work in finance, she would never have predicted she’d co-found Banqer, the digital financial literacy platform for schools. We are proud to have been a champion of Banqer from the start.

Originally, it looked like Flutey would follow a traditional path. After gaining accounting and entrepreneurship qualifications at the University of Otago, Flutey already had one foot in the door of a lucrative career. But after taking her first grad role at a Big Four accountancy firm, Flutey soon realised that her ambitions lay elsewhere.

I was really intentional about my next steps. And I didn’t want to anchor them solely around financial return, or professional status.”
Kendall Flutey, Banqer co-CEO

Flutey had long had an itch for a career in technology, and this felt like the right moment to scratch it. But despite leaving accounting after just six months to learn the ropes of software development at the Enspiral Dev Academy, she still wasn’t sure of where she wanted her career to take her.

“I was more thinking about what was going to fulfil me and where my interests lay…the good stuff, the stuff you really should think about. And that drew me to software, but I had aspirations that maybe software wouldn’t be the end of my path, either.”

And it wasn’t.

Teaching kids about money

Flutey’s younger brother was in his last year of primary school and, thanks to the efforts of a conscientious teacher, was learning the rudiments of money management. The tools and concepts he was being taught were simple, but Flutey says she saw a palpable change in her brother’s understanding. Highly qualified and capable in exactly the right skill-sets, she knew that this was her opportunity to make a real, enduring difference.

The result was Banqer, a hands-on digital platform that helps kids and teens to learn about the world of money by giving them a close-to-real-world experience of the systems and tools required to navigate it. From balancing a personal budget to managing savings, lending and investments, Banqer gives rangatahi the opportunity to become familiar with complex and crucial financial concepts in a safe, educational setting, before they need to apply that knowledge in the real world.

When Flutey began to build Banqer, she wasn’t thinking about growth, or penetration, or about building out a long-term business strategy. She’d simply realised that our rangatahi needed help with money – particularly those who were coming from less privileged backgrounds. She recognised she could help our educators to bridge that knowledge gap.

Success for us is about inclusivity and reach.”
Kendall Flutey, Banqer co-CEO

This is lifting the next generation

For Kiwibank, any opportunity to make Kiwi better off is one worth exploring. And even in its earliest start-up days we saw huge potential in Banqer’s uniquely powerful product and its conscientious, ambitious mission. Since 2016, our collaboration has enabled more than 215,000 school students to use Banqer to learn about managing their money – and to take those lessons into the real world. For Flutey, the partnership with Kiwibank has been invaluable.

When we were a team of two or three, Kiwibank made us feel like a team of 20. They’ve supported us to scale our ambitions and our impacts, they’ve supported us technically, and they’ve supported us in a really tangible way just by getting our name out there."
Kendall Flutey, Banqer co-CEO

“Banqer’s mission is really important to Kiwibank too. They’re looking long term as well, and they really value financial education and financial literacy, because they understand the impact that it's going to have on them as a bank in 10 or 20 years as well.”

Staying grounded, keeping purpose

Flutey’s story so far is one of creativity and tenacity. Her outstanding achievements justifiably saw her named Young New Zealander of the Year in 2019. But despite her success, she’s careful to acknowledge the fear that occasionally set in during Banqer’s early stages – fear of failure, or moving in the wrong direction. She admits she found those doubts challenging at times, however, she says the Banqer journey has taught her a valuable lesson about risk.

I’ve had to quit two stable career paths to get here, and quitting once was hard enough. But I think if you look at the other side of it – the prospect of not taking those leaps when the opportunity feels right – I just feel like there’s a far greater risk in not taking those chances.”
Kendall Flutey, Banqer co-CEO

The life of a founder and co-CEO is rarely straightforward, but she doesn’t have to look far to find the drive to keep going.

“It just takes one email from a teacher; one little video of a kid that comes in; meeting a stranger at a barbecue and having them say that they’re a Banqer parent and talking about their kid’s experience. It just takes one wee moment to ground you back in that bigger goal. I’ll always have that north star.”