Providing Brazilian Investors with Access to Financial Opportunities
XP offers extensive education and fee-free products to make it easier for retail customers to invest and manage their finances.
XP is committed to helping its customers gain control of their financial futures by being savvy investors. The Brazil-based asset manager makes its products, services, and educational content available through multiple channels and under established brand names.
The firm got its start as an investment advisor, and it still markets its investment offerings through independent financial advisors. But since December 2016, it has owned Rico, a digital platform that enables customers to invest in the markets directly on their own. As part of the firm’s goal of democratizing investments, Rico does not charge any brokerage fees for online stock trading. In 2014, XP also acquired Clear, which was one of the largest Brazilian broker-dealer to specialize in equities, and Clear no longer charges any brokerage fees.
XP is differentiated as an asset manager in that it also owns media properties, such as InfoMoney, which publishes a financial magazine and operates one of the largest investment websites in Latin America. That site experienced more than 225 million visits in 2021. It offers education and publishes daily news, analysis, and advice created by its own team of journalists.
InfoMoney also hosts some of the country’s most popular financial podcasts, including “From Zero to Top” and “Stock Pickers.” InfoMoney’s YouTube videos have had more than 10 million views, and its Instagram account has 24 million followers. The app, which has more than 1 million users, helps people make better financial decisions by enabling them to use mobile devices to track their investments, obtain financial education, and follow market news.
A Commitment to Educating Since the Firm’s Outset
Education is a key part of the firm’s mission, and its media properties support the company’s efforts to teach existing and prospective customers about the world of investing. That mission has been embedded with the company since its birth. Its founders, Guilherme Benchimol and Marcelo Maisonnave, recognized that, in addition to serving the altruistic purpose of teaching people how to better manage their finances, educating the population about investing would be essential to their firm’s growth.1
Benchimol knew that his fledgling firm would not be able to provide its expertise unless people had a basic understanding of the stock market. A lecture he gave at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio De Janeiro showed him how eager people were to learn. To accommodate that interest, he borrowed money from a family member to place local newspaper ads promoting his classes.
The success his initial students had implementing his lessons in the stock market attracted even more students, and the blossoming business rented 10 computers and office furniture so the founders could open an office in the center of Porto Alegre, the biggest urban area in southern Brazil and the capital of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. From those humble beginnings in 1998, XP grew over the next 25 years to become a firm with global offices that manages 925 billion2 Brazilian reais ($179.6 billion) for 3 million customers.3
Lowering or Eliminating Fees to Increase Access
To ensure that people of even modest means can invest in the financial markets, XP has continually worked to lower and even eliminate the fees on its products and services. Clear began offering zero brokerage fees in 2018. Rico eliminated brokerage fees for online stock trading in 2020, and that effort has continued with the firm’s other product offerings.
In 2020, XP Bank launched its first credit card products. They charge competitive fees while also offering a better experience for customers. In 2021, XP launched the Visa Infinite Credit Card, one of the first credit cards in Brazil with no fees. The card also offered a differentiated “investback” feature, which allows a percentage of purchases made with the card to be used to make investments on the XP platform.4 In 2022, XP also introduced free digital bank accounts without any of the account maintenance fees charged by traditional banks.5
Supporting the Interest in Sustainable Investing
Throughout its history, XP has supported evolving trends in the industry. Today, it is fully embracing the growing interest in sustainable investing, as investors look to own companies that are reducing environmental and social risks. It recently introduced three environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ETFs that allow investors to focus on the companies that exhibit strong ESG practices as measured by MSCI. The firm now has a large sustainable investment platform that includes 46 ESG-oriented investment funds, including local and global equity, fixed income, hedge fund, and private equity strategies.
To also respond to people’s eagerness to learn more, the company partnered with BlackRock and B3, the Brazilian stock exchange platform, to offer a free online course titled “ESG: a new way of investing” on the B3 Education platform.
Education Initiatives for Underserved Groups
XP offers an annual conference called Expert for investors. It is the largest investor conference in the world. The 2022 conference was offered to 30,000 in-person attendees and more than 1 million online viewers. The company is committed to educating the Brazilian population about the value of investing and considering options for managing their financial future that extend beyond low-returning bank savings accounts.
In 2021, XP launched Xpeed, which is now the largest financial education platform in Brazil. It offers more than 50 courses, ranging from basic investment information to lessons on advanced strategies for those who have become sophisticated investors.
In 2021, the firm also launched the XP Institute with the goal of providing financial education to 50 million people over the next 10 years. The institute acts as a grant-maker to support local programs and organizations whose final beneficiaries are minority groups, primarily children and youth, public school students, and women. All the courses and projects with which people are invited to engage are 100% free to their beneficiaries.
Examples of XP Institute projects and grant recipients include:
- In-person education courses: In partnership with the company Alicerce Educação, XP provides free, face-to-face lessons on subjects such as investments, budgeting skills including bill payments and debt management, economics, and retirement planning. More than 200 educators were selected and trained to facilitate the course. The partnership’s 16-hour course brings financial education to young people and adults at 93 Alicerce centers in peripheral regions of Brazil.
- Educação Garantida: Developed with Instituto da Criança, the project aims to strengthen educational development by working to prevent school dropouts and offering full scholarships to children from vulnerable families. From March 2018 to 2021, it sponsored more than 31,000 scholarships for children and teenagers. The program helped bring about a 77.5% improvement in academic performance for the students who were able to take advantage of the services offered. Thirty percent of the scholarship holders are students with a disability or other medical issues.
- Mathematics Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro: This competition, held by the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Department of Education for students from public schools, encourages learning as a fun activity that can also help young people identify their talents and chart a course for their professional development.
Sustainable Development Goals
The Sands Capital six investment criteria tend to lead us to businesses that are innovators or vital facilitators of change in industries undergoing significant transformation. XP is one of many portfolio businesses that create impact by addressing at least one major social or environmental challenge identified by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With the initiatives described here, XP supports SDG 1, No Poverty; SDG 4, Quality Education; SDG 5, Gender Equality; and SDG 10, Reduced Inequalities.
Disclosures: Unless otherwise indicated, all data and information in this article comes from the XP, Inc. Integrated Annual Report, 2021
1 The source for this anecdote about the firm’s origins is: “Guilherme Benchimol e a fundação da XP Inc | InfoMoney.”
2 Source: “Brazilian Broker XP’s profit gains from higher client assets,” Reuters, 11/8/22
3 Source: XP Inc. – Wikipedia
4 Source: “XP launches a credit card and plans to manage BRL 1.4 trillion (labsnews.com).”
5 Source: “Brazilian broker XP launches digital bank accounts,” YahooFinance, 6/20/221
This article is part of a larger series highlighting businesses that create impact by addressing at least one sustainable development goal. The series uses rotation to feature different goals. The business profiled was selected based on its reported alignment with one or more U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. The views expressed are the opinion of Sands Capital Management and are not intended as a forecast, a guarantee of future results, investment recommendations, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. The views expressed were current as of the date indicated and are subject to change. This material may contain forward looking statements, which are subject to uncertainty and contingencies outside Sands Capital’s control. Readers should not place undue reliance upon these forward-looking statements. There is no guarantee that Sands Capital will meet its stated goals. Past performance is not indicative of future results. A company’s fundamentals or earnings growth is no guarantee that its share price will increase. The specific securities identified and described do not represent all of the securities purchased, sold, or recommended for advisory clients. There is no assurance that any security will continue to be owned by Sands Capital Management. You should not assume that any investment is or will be profitable. Latest GIPS® Reports and additional disclosures for the related composites may be found in the Sands Capital GIPS Report. RO#2626492