O-n-i-s-t may look like a strange word. How is it pronounced? What does it mean? Where did it come from? These are questions I’m asked every now and then. So here’s my answer.
In the Fall of 2014, I spent countless nights in the basement of our CTO Amit’s apartment building, brainstorming around the creation of a product like Onist. Every few hours, we’d take a short pause in our discussions to purposefully search for a viable name for the company/product we were proposing to build. We wrote so many ideas for names on our whiteboard but, to our dismay, whenever we all agreed on a name and conducted a simple domain search, it was always taken.
We needed to take a step back.
I had close friends in wealth management who shared their frustration with how much “candy coating” went on in financial services. It seemed like nobody in the industry was upfront and honest – neither with themselves, nor with the clients they served.
On the technology side, I had seen how many upstart fintech companies claimed to be a free service, but then sold their users’ data or did other things to monetize their customers’ personal information – making them not as free as initially advertised
Amit showed me an article he found online which suggested, much to my surprise, that money – more so than infidelity, intimacy, children, or who should do which chores – was the leading cause of rifts between spouses. More importantly, the article suggested money conflicts weren’t caused by the lack of money per se, but rather the lack of communication around it.
We really liked the idea of a virtue such as honesty being the basis for our company name, but we weren’t exactly optimistic about the domain name being available so we didn’t even bother searching its availability. Instead, I looked up “honest” in an online dictionary for inspiration and the phonetic spelling, [on-ist], just stuck for us.
We are working hard to help create a world where spouses and other people in a household fight much less about money, where fintech companies are upfront about how they monetize their users’ data, and where financial professionals are empowered to create positive financial outcomes for the customers they serve, based on a sincere and realistic analysis of their clients true financial picture. And it all starts with a modest shift it our beliefs and behaviours – because when it comes to finances, honesty is the best policy.
You can read more about why we started Onist here.