CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Brendan Malone, Co-Founder & CEO of Raiz Invest Australia

Brendan Malone is the co-founder and CEO of Raiz Invest Australia, a financial services business offering customers a micro-investment platform.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

My career kicked off in Newcastle Australia where I worked full time with a local accounting firm and studied at night.

Fast forward a few years, I moved to London after graduating and worked with the Royal Bank of Scotland for the next 12 years in London, Hong Kong, Sydney and Singapore.

After leaving RBS, I owned two pubs in Australia before a unique opportunity presented, a role back in the finance sector with a start-up business called Acorns Grow Australia (now Raiz Invest Limited).

We launched the business in Australia in 2016 after a year of development and planning. After that, we focused on international expansion with offices now fully operational in Jakarta, Indonesia and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

A typical day – is there such a thing? Recently my days have changed significantly with the early arrival (11 weeks early) of our little baby girl Isobel.

Me, my wife Belinda and our two-year son Thomas are all desperate for her to come home from the special care nursery at the RHW – so my days are a little different juggling work, home and visits and care at the hospital.

But the normal workday would be a gym session or run down to the beach with our 5-year-old Labradoodle, Piper. I have an awesome commute where I can walk to the Rose Bay Wharf, catch the 6.30am ferry and head into the office.

The day is pretty full of meetings with the team, investors, partners and general operations etc. The team knows I like to be on time and run meetings efficiently. I am usually home by 5-5.30pm and play hard with Thomas before we do bath time.

At 6.30pm there is a scrum call with the development team. I then spend as much time as possible with the family before Thomas is put to bed and then Belinda and I have dinner and try to watch a show together (bit of a date session – I know how to treat her).

Belinda will usually head to bed and I will open up the laptop to clear all my emails and update my to do list – I find it much easier to sleep when I have nothing lingering from the previous day.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Yes, our business is structured with flexibility and remote working at the forefront, George and I deliberately designed this in line with our strategic goal of international expansion. We are a mobile first platform, based on technology with a team in multiple jurisdictions, all of this bodes well for flexible work and remote working.

I can work anywhere at any time and have done as the need arises, however I have worked more flexibly in the last few weeks with the early arrival of Isobel.

I still believe we achieve our best work when collaborating together in the office, it is great for team’s development, culture and the customer – we continue to bring better features and experiences to our customers when brainstorming together.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

My family is very important to me and they are a huge part of my ‘balance’, my wife and children (and Piper) is what my life is all about and why I work hard.

To me, work life balance is about being happy and making a difference, it’s not about working only 50% of the time which is what the word balance implies. That old saying love what you do and you will never work a day in your life is something to strive for.

I want to be there for my family and spend quality time with them, and they also understand my work, share my beliefs and vision for what Raiz can do for its customers and are my biggest supporters (and Raiz advocates).

Belinda especially knows that I have a strong commitment to the business for the best outcome for all users across Australia and Southeast Asia and how much I believe in the importance of financial literacy and inclusion.

That being said, I try to prioritise time with the family, exercise and relaxation, I can be my best at work if all of these things are taken care of.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Not in the past 12 months but in the past 5 weeks things have changed with the early arrival of Isobel.

The arrival of Thomas 2.5 years ago has seen the inclusion of many routines and habits, one example is I now can and do sing every word to every Wiggle song there is – I never thought it would happen!

Also, Belinda has been a positive influence in many many ways and has introduced me to some new positive habits and one is mediation. I also did a brilliant course with Dean Gladstone called the Power of the Breath around functional breathing, the Wim Hof method and ice bath / cold therapy which has made a massive difference.

I try and meditate or do focused breath exercises a few times a day when I get the chance and it has made a big difference to my wellbeing.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I like to read business or biographies when I can. George is a good reader and has recommended my last few books. I am currently ready Blitzscaling which is very informative and a good read.

Otherwise keeping a handle on my inbox is always good reading and Thomas and I are also loving Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

I have just started to get into the podcast scene and listen weekly to The Australian Finance Podcast with Owen and Kate and some general finance and investing podcasts when I get the chance.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

The Raiz Invest app of course. There are apps I use every day for different purposes and especially from a communication point of view with COVID and some apps have been great to keep in touch and talk regularly to colleagues, friends and family all around the world.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

I look around the world and it is interesting to see so many individuals doing so many significant things. If I had to choose, it would be Barack Obama. He is highly intelligent, I like the way he is always cool, calm and collected. He is a phenomenal orator. He has a broad knowledge base and can break down the most complex of issues down with simple explanations. That interview would have some great insights I am sure.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I think you can achieve a good balance, but you have to love both your work and your life, and I am very lucky to have both. If you do not like your work and it’s hard to get out of bed each day then you have to have a look and think about what you want.

Life is too short to be miserable so you must do everything you can to get the balance for you right. I read an article written by a palliative care nurse who captured and wrote about reflections from patients before they passed. None of them looked back and said I wished I had worked harder.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.