Leo Tam is a Director of Corporate Banking at ATB Capital Markets. He's worked in the financial industry since 2008 and has specialized expertise in the energy and tech sector.
Neo Financial began in 2019 with an idea on a piece of paper, but when it’s the brains behind SkipTheDishes writing down that idea, that’s all it takes.
With their experience with technology that significantly impacted people’s everyday lives, Neo co-founders Andrew Chau, Jeff Adamson, Kris Read and Chris Simair began with one question: why are things done a certain way? Chau, CEO of Neo, sets out to figure out “why?” and in the process unlocks the ability to reimagine how people think about an industry and how Canadians interact with their money.
Neo offers a tech-forward, user-friendly approach to financial services that makes it easy and convenient for Canadians to manage their money. “There’s a trend towards people wanting to save more money. There’s a trend towards people wanting to use their phones every day,” says Chau. “That’s the intersection where Neo operates.”
From the start, the team has followed the “jump right in” principle. Your original models generally don’t play out as planned, Chau notes — the easiest way to find out if something will work is to try it. While the team has always known where they want to go, how they’ve gotten there has sometimes differed, drastically. But evolving to meet market demands is in Neo’s DNA, and the fact it builds all its technology from scratch helps it respond dynamically to customer feedback.
Since launching with a cashback credit card issued by ATB Financial, Neo has expanded its offerings, including its latest launch of the Tims® Credit Card. Underlying it all is a shared company-wide ambition: to impact every Canadian, whether it’s by helping them save, invest, retire faster or grow their business.
ATB Financial: with Neo from the start
ATB was one of Neo’s first financial partners. “ATB was instrumental in getting us up and running when it came to issuing our first product,” says Chau. “The ATB team has been extremely resourceful, helpful and proactive. ATB is always one of the first calls we make for financial-related products or advice.”
He especially appreciates that it isn’t a strictly transactional partnership — the organizations share a vision to build a better Alberta. “It’s more of a values-based relationship, and something for the long term, which we really value. Like ATB, which has been supporting Albertans for the past 85 years, Neo is here to build a generational company that can last hundreds of years.”
To help fund future growth opportunities, Neo recently worked with ATB on a venture debt facility. This product allows tech companies to extend their runway and hit milestones in time for the next equity raise or product launch. “We think that’s a real value-add to tech companies in their growth journey,” says Leo Tam, Director of Corporate Banking with ATB Capital Markets, whose focus is on diversifying tech businesses in Alberta.
Keeping opportunities in Alberta
Neo was born and bred in Alberta by design. Its co-founders saw people leaving the province for US tech giants and wanted to bring those opportunities back home — to help people thrive and give them a reason to stay. “The potential that we have in Alberta, especially in the tech industry, is massive,” Chau says.
He believes the outlook for Alberta’s tech ecosystem is “up and to the right.” It’s still early days, but more entrepreneurs and startups are emerging all the time. “We’d love to see more companies coming out of the woodwork and creating a much more tech-forward Alberta.” That momentum takes time to build, but Chau is confident the “seedlings” that have been planted will soon start to bear fruit.
The future is busy
What’s in Neo’s future? “A lot.” The beauty of tech, Chau points out, is that if you can imagine it, you can build it. As such, Neo’s team of over 700 is working on a “massive road map” of new products and features.
That growth never loses sight of Neo’s values. “At the end of the day, it all comes back to how do we add more value to Canadians? How do we make their lives easier?” Tam says this commitment is integral to Neo’s success: “I believe Neo Financial has grown so rapidly because they are singularly focused on their mission.” It’s clearly working. In 2022, Neo became one of Calgary’s $1 billion tech unicorns.
But Neo isn’t resting on its laurels. “We’re never really going to be done,” says Chau. His long-range vision? To see Neo on every Canadian’s phone.
Find out more about Neo Financial.