Home Estate Planning GoHenry boss Louise Hill: I’d have loved to stay UK-owned

GoHenry boss Louise Hill: I’d have loved to stay UK-owned

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Each week Charlie Conchie interviews the biggest names in the world of finance and tech. This week he sits down with Louise Hill, the founder of kids’ money-management business GoHenry, which was taken over last year

“I blame my kids,” laughs Louise Hill from her office in Farringdon.

The founder of children’s finance app GoHenry used to stick an invoice on the fridge every time her son landed a new iTunes bill in her inbox. When he went to collect his pocket money every weekend, he would find a chunk of it already spent.

“On Saturday mornings he stuck his hand out expecting £4 and I would go ‘here’s your invoices. Hope you’re enjoying your music. But you’ve spent £3.20 on iTunes this week, so here’s 80p’.” 

At the school drop off, she would chat about her kids’ covert spending habits and realised every parent was facing the same issue. One said her daughter had spent £400 on Mylittlepony scrunchies, another had a banged-up car delivered to the house after thinking he was buying a flashy toy for £600.

Kids, she realised, weren’t equipped to understand the world of online spending – they needed both some guardrails and, crucially, some guidance. GoHenry began to take shape.

‘The simplicity of cash is gone’

Hill, a retail specialist and consultant by trade, tapped into the uncertainty facing both parents and kids as they navigated a new world of online spending. 

Founded in 2012, the firm had swelled to around two millions customers and had already stretched into the US when it was sold to Californian wealth fintech Acorns last year.

Despite that growth, however, she says the issue of financial education is still as pressing as ever.

“I think the simplicity of having money in my pocket and when it’s gone I can see it, we’ve all lost that – and not just kids.”

The firm now offers both a core debit card for children and teens as well as financial education tools to educate children with saving and budgeting. With its new parent company Acorns, it is now also offering them a route to stay with the firm into adulthood.


The need for financial education has transformed Hill into something like campaigner-cum-boss at the helm of GoHenry, banging the drum for more work. 

Despite the government putting financial education on the curriculum ten years ago, Hill says far too many are still falling through the gaps. She wants financial education to be compulsory and consistent across schools. 

I think parents realised that they needed something to help their children manage money online and within limits, and that catapulted our growth

“There’s a gaping hole [in financial education],” she adds. 

“Most schools don’t have to follow the curriculum. Certain groups of church schools don’t have to follow the curriculum. Any state school that’s joined in the Academy system does not have to follow the curriculum.”

The gap in learning has been crystallised by the pandemic and cost of living crunch in recent years, she adds. Despite its world-beating financial industry, the UK ranks 15th out of 29 OECD countries for financial literacy. A Bank of England deepdive showed last year that even kids want to be taught how to better handle their cash.

That need has also been “exacerbated” by the pandemic, the Bank said, as timestrains and a lack of access squeezed financial education even further out of the curriculum. 

Pandemic boom

For Hill and GoHenry, the times of economic strain have therefore proved a rather unwanted boon. Covid pushed parents and kids online and onto its app and revenues at GoHenry firm doubled in 2021.

“I think parents realised that they needed something to help their children manage money online and within limits, and that catapulted our growth,” she says.

That growth set GoHenry up for its sale to Acorns last year for an undisclosed sum. While Hill could be forgiven for thinking ‘job well done’ after selling up, she’s not entirely satisfied.

For many, GoHenry’s sale to Acorns was a symptom of an issue in the UK’s tech sector – another homegrown, high-growth business forced to look across the pond after failing to find the domestic backing it needs.

Would she have liked it another way?

“I would have loved for us to remain entirely UK,” Hill admits for the first time.“I’m a staunch supporter of Team UK,” she adds.

GoHenry’s earlier funding rounds “came relatively easy” in the UK, she says, but the firm then fell somewhat into the well documented ‘scale-up funding gap’ plaguing UK’ start-ups.

 Acorns, however, has made a good partner.

“It sounds corny when I say this, but they talk like us. They’re excited by the things we’re excited by, they care about educating people. 

“We’re just so closely aligned.”

Homegrown success

Hill is still well and truly hands on with the firm after the acquisition. Acorns and GoHenry are readying new products to launch across the UK and Europe, and she’s just launched a new petition and campaign to make some noise around financial education.

While she may wish the firm was an entirely homegrown British success story – there may be another piece of advice in there for her customers: when the deal’s good, take it.

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