Interview: The new women’s BFF


Gaëlle Haag, pictured, launched Startalers in 2018 

Luxembourg has one of the smallest gender pay gaps in Europe. But Gaëlle Haag says women are less prepared when it comes to taking care of their long-term future, which could leave them vulnerable later in life.

Various studies have emerged showing women would rather talk about sex, death, anything than money. “It shows what a taboo it is,” Gaëlle Haag, CEO of the women’s investing platform Startalers told Delano.

The mother-of-two saw there was a lack of awareness and urgency to act among her female peers when it came to making financial investments for their own futures. This short-sightedness proves critical in old age when women are most at risk of becoming financially disadvantaged.

Barriers to investing

The barriers, she learned, were lack of confidence, knowledge and trust in what has traditionally been a male-dominated arena. Even Haag, who forged her career in wealth management, didn’t trust the industry to make investments in her best interests.

“Also, women were much more interested in where the money would go than the average male investor.” This highlighted an even bigger need to advise women on investments which are both socially and environmentally sustainable. “I thought this was something I could really do something about, thanks to my background and experience,” the entrepreneur explained.

In January 2018, Haag quit her full-time job in wealth management to join forces with Thierry Smets and start Startalers, a women’s best financial friend (BFF) offering a financial education, and sustainable investing platform aimed at female investors.

On 8 March 2019, International Women’s Day, they launched Donna, the startup’s first wealth management education chatbot. And, in November, Startalers raised €520,000 in a first funding round led by the Luxembourg Stock Exchange. The funding will help ensure the launch of its goal-based financial planning tool, expected in Luxembourg, Belgium and France in September 2020.

The project is moving fast. In January 2020, Startalers welcomes its first employee, a CTO, with a second expected shortly afterwards. And, perhaps most importantly, through the workshops Startalers has hosted with wannabe women investors, she sees the first signs they are overcoming the stigma of talking about money. Haag said: “They welcome the setup of these workshops where they can talk openly about money and the impact on their future lifestyle.”

Invested in wealth management

Gaëlle Haag worked in wealth and asset management for global management consultants McKinsey & Company and then for KBL European Private Bankers from 2012 to 2018. She has a master’s in finance from the Université Libre de Bruxelles and a master’s in business engineering, advanced management and finance from Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management.

This article was originally published in the Winter 2020 edition of Delano Magazine.