WealthTech Insights #3 with Lex Sokolin: When Financial Apps Might Use Blockchain

Here, you can read another interview with a WealthTech expert and get to know more about innovations in wealth management and robo-advisors, a financial software product that is becoming more and more popular. My interlocutor is Lex Sokolin.

Lex Sokolin
Global Director Fintech Strategy at Autonomous Research

Lex is passionate about financial services, new media, and technology. He has held several roles in the investment industry—including in investment banking, strategy, and venture capital—and received a JD/MBA from Columbia. Lex was founder and CEO of NestEgg, and led product design and corporate development at AdvisorEngine (Vanare). Currently, Lex directs FinTech Strategy at Autonomous Research, a global research firm for the financial sector that helps clients to understand and leverage innovation. Lex is active on Twitter.

In this interview, Lex shares his vision of robo-advising, what financial products have the most prospects among millennials, whether robo-advisors might use blockchain, and how high-tech companies impact our lives. We discuss problems faced by young people in the US and Western Europe, and how these are escalating the growth of the WealthTech industry.

Q: How did you get into the wealth management industry, and what changes have you been observing in this niche in recent years?

Lex: I started in wealth management in 2006. My first job was at Lehman Brothers in the investment-management division where I worked for a strategy group that oversaw a pretty large wealth management business. I was mostly involved in the distribution side, high net worth wealth management. I was also involved in projects on the manufacturing sides: investment products, asset-management, manufacturing side of the business.

I had the pleasure of going through the Lehman collapse very early in my career. It was very painful but it was also very informative. I learned a couple of things there. Number one is: people at every level of seniority and any level of education make very simple behavioral mistakes in terms of allocating their own money, as well as allocating their clients’ money. I learned to appreciate diversification in a very intuitive way after that happened—for me that was pretty lucky.

The other thing I learned is definitely about the trade itself. What do financial advisors do? How did they do it? What software do they use? What is the interaction like? What are the investments that they use? and so on. I also understood that this type of service was not scalable to clients who had small accounts. The reason for this was that you have very expensive people who interact with clients, gather the data, and then take the software that’s on their computers—again, this is 2007.

So somebody with $5 million in assets and somebody with $50,000 in assets—they have a very similar problem. They have the same problem with asset allocation, trading rebalancing, and all of that sort, but the process of having an expensive human being taking that data and then adding it to software is basically not scalable. Lots of people couldn’t get that access. Today this idea is extremely obvious, but in 2010 it wasn’t obvious because people didn’t think they could invest over the internet. The idea of a Web 2.0 approach to finance was untested. You had Mint.com but you didn’t have lots of interactive financial software on the web. It was just the beginning of the exchange trade fund revolution. Meaning that people still thought they needed to pay 150 bps and so on.

It was the ETF revolution just starting that let me combine all those things together to start NestEgg Wealth in the end of 2009– beginning of 2010. It was a straightforward B2C robo-advisor. The concept was very similar to what today is Personal Capital. You know, we started a little bit earlier than them. We were not nearly as well funded but we went through the experience of building the alpha and the beta and trying to figure out what the market was.

Through that we landed on the main problem of robo-advice, which is customer acquisition. Customer acquisition, even for today’s largest robo-advisors, is very difficult and it’s unclear whether at the margin each incremental customer is profitable. It is very difficult, it’s hard to build that business. There were different directions we could take in order to scale application of the technology because we knew that the technology answer was correct. That’s proven out today in 2017, where every single firm, from Bank of America Merrill Lynch down to a free firm like WiseBanyan, offers essentially the same robo-advisor stack workflow to automate what a financial advisor does. We knew we had the right technology and then the question was how do we scale it. Through networking and trying things out, following the B2B2C route, we thought about targeting it toward financial institutions because this had become something we heard a louder and louder demand for.

By 2013, there was this almost overwhelming desire in the independent or mid-sized financial advisory world for private labeling this software for serving smaller millennial accounts. In 2013, we decided to go that direction. We were bought by Vanare, Rich Cancro’s company, which is now AdvisorEngine, essentially as a way to bring two ideas, two things together. Those things were:

  • the robo-advisor concept, which at the time did not exist within traditional wealth management platforms at all; and
  • combining that with a traditional platform, which of course had to be built.

Rich’s experience basically brought that platform to the table and we thought this was the best solution for both helping advisors as well as helping clients.

“What’s really important that people understand that it’s just process automation. It’s not artificial intelligence, not the manufacturing of an investment management product; it’s not a new way of investing.”

Q: Many people think about different things when we say “robo-advisor.” What are the main features in the wealth management solution that are counted as robo-advising features?

Lex: It depends. You can have a fully automated service that’s very simple and optimized or you can have a hybrid service where the financial advisor is still driving the relationship, as in a cockpit. But at the end of the day it’s about automating all the workflows involved in the delivery of financial advice.

I think what’s really important that people understand that it’s just process automation. Meaning, it’s not artificial intelligence, not the manufacturing of an investment management product; it’s not a new way of investing. In fact, it’s an extremely traditional way of investing. It’s a very conservative way of investing that’s often rooted in modern portfolio theory that has been sold for the last two decades to wealthy individuals. The innovation is very simple. It is just taking a human process and turning it into a machine process. You’re building discrete systems where you know all the answers and just code them up in a logic tree.

If you want to go through the features, it’s marketing through a consumer site, whether that’s Web or mobile. It is a conversion of prospects into clients through online account opening. It’s then onboarding of those clients into some sort of CRM. Sometimes it’s connected into a content-management system. It is the recommendation of liquidity assessment, risk assessment, and an investment program to clients through an asset allocation or through security selection, and then it’s automatic, or automated as far as possible, trading and rebalancing of that investment program, often with tax overlays so that you can harvest losses. Then of course it’s billing, finance, and everything you need to manage things well.

In large part, robo-advice blends into personal finance management things like data aggregation, financial planning, and budgeting. These days, even banking and lending are becoming part of the feature. The limited idea of the robo-advisor from 2013, which was just an online investment portfolio-rebalancing tool, is less and less differentiated today. What you really need to do is have software that solves the problem of how somebody lives their financial life from start to finish. From “How do I pay my credit cards?” to “Should I pay off my student loans or invest in the stock market?” all the way through “What are my alpha-generating investment opportunities?” to “How do I buy a house?” All that stuff is going to be part of financial software and how that financial software speaks to you or communicates with you is an evolution as well.

Today, human beings are continuing to use this software to have relationships with other human beings, but with the generational change that’s occurring and the transfer of money to younger people more and more is going to move into chatbots like Facebook Messenger. More and more of it is going to move into Amazon Alexa or Google Home, into voice interfaces. That’s already happening. So the initial definition of robo-advisor basically defined modern wealth management. Now you’re just applying modern technology to see where it can go.

“The real problem is that people hate financial products and the interaction that most people have with their money is a negative interaction.”

Q: In robo-advisor solutions we need to identify the risk tolerance for each user, and typically we use some kind of questionnaire to do this. Do you think this methodology of using a questionnaire is inefficient? Do you think it could be improved somehow, especially, for example, using some kind of Big Data analytics to identify the risk tolerance in a more accurate way?

Lex: The answer is broader perhaps than the question itself. There’s a problem between financial professionals and regular human beings. Human people and financial people, there’s a big divide. For a financial person, for a financial advisor or financial technologist, it’s cool and interesting to create or engage with financially sophisticated concepts. So I can answer your question and say, “What would I really want?” Well, what I would really want is for my Google Graph, meaning all my searches and so on, or my Google Images results or my Google Photos, to be scanned by computer vision and to pick up on my life events from my photos and to understand it based on how I behave in the real world. Again through computer vision and maybe some sort of analysis of that, or perhaps through data such as transactions or my financial data, you can create much more precise and much more rigorous and interesting measurements of risk tolerance, risk propensity. They’re far deeper than a paper questionnaire.

Let’s say I claim that I’m an extremely high risk taker and not only do I want to be in equities, but I want to be 50% in cryptocurrencies. I want to just speculate all my money, right? Let’s say that I have a kid. So my Google Graph says, “You have a two-month old kid. Do you really think that you should put everything into bitcoin?” That’s a useful interaction of Big Data, of understanding who I am, of helping me fulfill my financial journey, and I think that’s really useful and that’s where I would like to have the digital wealth industry go. In exploiting that Big Data and being far more accurate in those assessments and being much smarter about the types of investment it can set up for me, and of course I’d love to have smart contracts that spin up investment portfolios without me having to authorize all these things and constantly be bothered with financial decisions, and that just gets me to a happy financial life.

I would like that. But I would like it because I am a financial professional who enjoys that type of geekiness. The problem is that real people hate financial products. They really don’t like them and the interaction that most people have with their money is a negative interaction. If you tell somebody to go and refinance their house or figure out how they should allocate their retirement, that is usually a negative utility interaction. Which means they don’t want to do it, they don’t want to log into their app and they don’t want to read all this. It’s boring to them.

That’s very different from something like Instagram, where every time you login you get a dopamine hit and are happy because it’s designed in a way to give you pleasure, whereas financial products are designed like homework. They make you do work and feel bad. That level of sophistication — of using much more complex analysis than a questionnaire on a scale of one to ten (e.g., you have three questions and then you assign somebody a portfolio, one out of five portfolios) — making it more complex than that can have the effect of losing your customer because they won’t understand what’s going on. To me, it’s a frustrating equation because there’s a lot that can be done to improve what services are provided and to make them more specific. But if you can use Big Data to remove the work that humans have to do in diagnosing themselves. I think that is a no-brainer.

Q: There are robo-advisors that are more focused on the B2B space; however, we see that this niche right now is more emergent for the B2C market. Will B2C robo-advisors totally replace the B2B robo-advisors, or it will be some other mix of different solutions?

Lex: We had that first wave of robo-advisors and then after that we had a second wave of B2B players, companies like Jemstep and Vanare/AdvisorEngine, Riskalyze. That was a response to B2C. I think two things are going on.

The first is there’s a new iteration. There’s a new generation of online investing services called micro-investing services and they’re mostly for very small accounts. It’s things like Acorns, Stash, and Robinhood, too. They mostly live on the phone. They don’t live on the Web. They have millions of customers as opposed to a hundred thousand customers. So that’s the B2C model that I see being successful. By successful, I mean it’s differentiated from large financial institutions. Whereas, I don’t think Betterment is differentiated from large financial institutions any longer.

Another question is what is the competition in digital wealth really about today? To me, it’s no longer about startups because startups have essentially no advantage. The competition is between Wells Fargo and Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Vanguard and Schwab. The big question is how will Schwab defend against Bank of America Merrill Lynch? Because that’s where most of the assets will go. If the B2B startups, the private-label robo-advisors, lend a hand in that war and really help drive assets, then I think they will make a bigger difference than those first initial B2C entrants. I think the B2C entrants will continue to exist, they’ll be able to have a business and certainly some of them have already gotten to scale, but we’ve passed that question. That question has already been answered and the answer is “yes:” all of wealth management will have a robo-advisor and everything will basically look the same. There’s a new channel and a new offering. The competition has just shifted.

“Younger people are in more debt than their parents and they work harder than ever.”

Q: The wealth management industry was initially mainly associated with the chance to secure one’s retirement, and players in this niche used to be 40 years old or older. Today, we observe that the potential audience is becoming younger. Why do you think this is? Do you think that these new WealthTech startups can promote the investing culture among the younger generation and millennials?

Lex: That’s a really hard question to answer. I keep giving very American answers in the sense of “what’s the American problem?” I think that robo-advisors are a global phenomenon that has nothing to do with wealth management or finance. It’s just the phenomenon of continuous digitization of everything there is.

You probably know the quote by Andreessen, “Software’s eating the world.” What’s happening in investment management is almost boring because it’s the same thing. First it’s music. Then it’s books, movies, clothes, food, transportation. Then it’s finance, healthcare, politics. Then we’re all uploaded into the singularity and that’s it. We’ll live in virtual worlds. There’s a line that we’re moving on; it just happens to be now that you and I are talking about wealth management and financial services, but there’s a broader thing at play.

The question: Are millennials investing more? I’ll give you the American answer. Part of it is that the robo-advisor technology has made it possible for people with smaller amounts of money to invest. It’s democratization. The simple answer is yes, because it’s more accessible and it’s cheaper. And because it’s more accessible and cheaper for millennials it is now more accessible and cheaper for wealthy people as well, so that they are saying, “Why would I hire Goldman Sachs or UBS for 200 basis points when I can get a similar thing for 40 basis points?” It’s affecting the whole industry.

Millennials are becoming much more tech savvy, and when you’re more tech savvy and you live on your phone, installing one more app on it, like Acorns or Robinhood, is effortless and sort of intuitive. You’re not even thinking about it in the way that I described before as homework, because it’s just an app and it’s instead like all other apps. Finance starts to look like everything else, like the rest of the software, a kind of consumer software—I’m not talking about capital markets institutions. The more it looks like consumer tech, the more millennials will invest just because it’s part of their ecosystem and how they navigate their world.

A separate part of your question is intergenerationally, what are the dynamics. I know the answer for the US and there are some specific and strange things in the US that are causing this. In the US, every person is their own investment manager. You don’t really have a strong pension system the way you do in a lot of Europe.

Then you also have much more borrowing for young people than ever before intergenerationally. That’s true globally because of the way the population pyramid looks. People have fewer kids so now there’s fewer people to finance their parents’ retirement. Younger kids end up borrowing to pay for their school, to pay for their houses. They’re in more debt than their parents. They’re more educated and they work harder than ever. There’s a frustration, like “What do we do? We don’t have the same access to economic growth that the generation above us has.”

That’s a very American situation. That’s also probably the Western European situation. I don’t think that’s true for any of the former Soviet states or for China, which is a huge place where online investing is enormous. So it’s a very Western problem but that’s who is innovating this stuff, and young people who have all this debt need to find a way to feel comfortable about their future. They have more anxiety about their future and they’re more likely to interact with financial services and try to save and use these apps to get ahead.

“You have to create teams where you have very deep domain experts in financial services and extremely confident technologists, and then you need to find ways for them to talk and respect each other.”

Q: Talking about the wealth management technologies and WealthTech, we have two major groups of people in this area: financial advisors, people with financial expertise; and software people, technology people who are basically building the technology. Do you think there is a knowledge gap between these two groups of people, and do you think they understand each other in an efficient way?

Lex: It goes back to the digitization point. If you think about a traditional financial firm, like a large investment bank, the way they are usually laid out is that business people, financial professionals or portfolio managers, are the rock stars. They get paid millions of dollars at the top and then the technology is in the back office. Bank of America might be one of the largest technology employers in the country. But technology is IT, it’s support. Tech is in a different State or they’re just separate from the core of the business, and seen as just a cost.

Then you look at a company in high tech, such as Google or Facebook or Tesla and their developers—it’s not a programmer anymore, it’s not IT; it’s a developer, it’s an engineer, and the developer is the rock star. If you look at the guys who are building self-driving cars or self-driving trucks, at what company X was bought for, and how much those guys are getting paid—it’s millions of dollars because they are building the future, that’s the core of a tech company. Then you have all the business people, the sales people somewhere separate. You have to have them because you need to sell your product. The business people are supporting these tech innovations. And these two cultures are very different and almost opposite.

FinTech within the last five years has been doing the work of bringing them together. Large financial institutions through venture-capital investments, through innovation programs, through partnerships with Amazon or Google or IBM or Microsoft, have come to appreciate the world that we’re entering, the world where the developer is the rock star. The world where everything is software and so that means that the person who understands and creates the software is building the boundaries. It’s not a cost—it’s the revenue, it’s the software itself. That’s something I believe in very strongly.

In 2017, I think any opinion that software is a cost and is secondary to business is just insane. That’s patently wrong. This pertains more to your question on financial professionals understanding technology and vice versa. The culture would be very difficult, especially for professionals on both sides, technology and finance, that grew up a certain way and have come to accept certain roles in the industry. So if you spent the last 20 years thinking about technology as a cost and nothing else, it’s going to be very hard to shift that mindset.

I think the best thing that can happen is people building organizations, new businesses, combine these things in a better way. And that’s what FinTech is about. It’s a difficult thing to do because you have to create these teams where you have very deep domain experts in financial services and then extremely competent technologists who know how to scale modern infrastructure, and find ways for them to talk and believe each other and respect each other. That’s a difficult thing to create.

You can’t just have lectures where one side talks about DevOps and scalability and Agile development and the other side talks about how the stock market works—that’s not enough. What you really need to make it gel together is a combined mission. The mission will drive the culture.

So if you get people with different skillsets and different opinions but you give them a goal that they care about, not because of money but because they have an emotional connection to the end results, if you tell them: “There’s a hundred thousand people who would end up broke and in debt and have pretty terrible lives because nobody is there to help them. If you work together, these people will be able to spend time with their families and with their children and make art and pass on a legacy and that’s what you’re doing,” then people will get along and they’ll find a way to create a culture that is very additive. But if you tell people, “Your job is to make money and the person who makes the most money gets paid the most,” there’s no way you’re going to get any sort of cooperation or mutual respect from these very different disciplines.

Q: Investment banks are establishing innovation labs that are separate departments from IT, which are more about incubating new technology because they need to innovate, not only use IT for operations and for support. Do you think this is a good strategy for banks, or do they need to focus more on helping FinTech startups?

Lex: Well I think it’s a continuum of risk taking. The financial company, the financial incumbent, has to first undergo a mindshift to understand and respect FinTech, saying “How we do things today is going to erode and so we need to do something about it.”

Even that is extremely difficult. It has to happen at the board level. The CEO has to believe it. If you look at JP Morgan or Wells Fargo and you look at the external communication, they talk about this approach a lot. JP Morgan spends nine billion USD on technology per year, but there are other financial companies that just don’t have that same respect or that same realization.

Then you’re in a position: “I have this gigantic company and it’s very heavily regulated and I can’t really jeopardize it so how far do I go? The least I can do is establish a venture fund where I invest a little bit in different startups. That’s not very connected to the operations of my business but that at least gets me to own some part of Fintech.” After that, maybe you set up an incubator or an accelerator where not only do you write a check but you allow these firms to run a pilot or a proof of concept with an operating business inside the large firm. That’s one step more. So if you think about Fintech as outsourced research and development, it’s basically how close do you want it to the core of your business?

After the incubator, you might have a strategy for acquiring companies. You might have a strategy for partnering with outsourced vendors and having very strong legal contracts. If you write an investment check or if you write large revenue into a startup, it ends up being very similar where they’re essentially dependent on you. So then you can have commercial agreements with the operating business in a startup.

There are different steps within the risk appetite of a company, and I would say that I think the most productive is for the operating business, for the person that runs investment management, the person that runs investment banking, to say “We want to integrate or we like what the startup is doing; let’s build it or let’s buy it or let’s partner or let’s invest. Let’s figure out what to do about it.” I think that the operating decision is more effective than just saying “We’re going to have an innovation lab and then we’re going to visit startups. Not necessarily take any action.” It’s easy to see why it’s hard for these firms to do it. It’s risk and they generally don’t like technology risk.

“For a robo-advisor to have their stuff in the blockchain means the custodian that supports the robo-advisor needs to have a production blockchain for essentially all their trades.”

 Q: What do you think about the blockchain or distributed ledger technology? How could it be applied to WealthTech? We have observed that distributed ledger technology is something everybody is talking about. However, the real use case right now is only cryptocurrency. In what way and how do you think distributed ledger technology can be used for wealth management in the near future?

Lex: There is an issue of timing and an issue of operating stack. In the US, there’s a separation between where the money sits (the custodian), how investments are traded (the broker), who’s providing the advice (the registered investment advisor), and other consumers. Each part is fairly isolated.

Blockchain in its logical application would mean the following: all money, all equities, all bonds, an exchange rate of funds, an asset allocation, our digital assets, all of them and all trading from start to finish, every ETF rebalancing, every money movement, every single thing to do with the client portfolio, retail or institutional, happens on a shared ledger. It doesn’t have to be the same one; it can be Hyperledger, it can be Ethereum, they can connect. But on a shared accessible blockchain where everybody knows the records of what happened. The implication of that is that you don’t have any reconciliation — period. If transactions happen, everybody knows that it’s a true transaction and you don’t need to figure out between your trading software and your performance-reporting software and your system of record of a custodian, or your clearing house—any differences, because you just by definition could not have any. That’s a strong use case for blockchain.

It’s happening first in the world of institutional capital markets. You and I are talking about wealth management, where accounts are $50,000 to $5 million dollars, let’s say. In institutional capital markets, a trade can be $100 million or $20 million. It’s a big trade. When you have a very big trade, you can have much bigger back-office costs to support those trading systems. We are replacing that, we’re automating that. And making that easier becomes more important.

So what’s happening now is that in the institutional world, blockchain is 100% being piloted and put into production around bonds, insurance, derivatives and large B2B payments. That is step one, and that has to happen way before it trickles down to wealth management because wealth management is a consumer of infrastructure rather than a builder of infrastructure. For a robo-advisor to say “Our stuff is in the blockchain” in a meaningful way, not just in a marketing way, means the custodian that supports the robo-advisor needs to have a production blockchain for essentially all their trades. Otherwise, it’s useless.

Would it be okay for Schwab or Fidelity or TD Ameritrade to have all their trading on blockchain? It would be less likely. But for somebody like BNY Mellon Pershing, because they have a lot of institutional business and they need to have a blockchain production system for all their trading, it could be more likely.

Once you end up moving all the institutional trading and all the exchanges to a distributed ledger you might have retail custodians move onto a distributed ledger. Then, once the retail custodians are on a distributed ledger, every cent of it will just flip. Once that’s coming, everyone will just have to rewrite their trading software to work with whatever the new source of truth is. We are looking at efficiency gains of 30% to 40% in terms of the software, less manual intervention, and so on. Again, it’s just waterfall, it’s almost impossible to start from the retail customer and push distributed ledgers into the infrastructure. It has to go the other way. The infrastructure has to first happen to a different type of trading. It’s happening for Goldman and for JP Morgan, it’s happening in the capital market side of the business rather than the retail investment-management side of the business.

I could give a different example. FIX trading is something that hedge funds and institutional clients do. But FIX APIs never really made it to RIAs on wealth management custodians. We would have loved to use FIX trading for rebalancing a $5,000 account, but that’s just not how custodians want to do it. It could be the same thing with blockchain. It might never come to retail because it gets stuck somewhere, but hopefully that won’t happen.

“Just because software gives options doesn’t mean that I’m forced to do all of it.”

Q: What companies do you see as the most innovators at the moment, and who do you think will have the biggest gross in the near future?

Lex: I’m going to be really biased about innovative companies.

There’s a shorter term and there’s a longer term. So in the shorter term there is a very discrete problem to tackle, which is the mind share of American consumers and transitioning them to digital wealth as opposed to traditional software. That means Schwab, Fidelity, Vanguard, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan competing over the average person who’s never heard of robo-advisors before but will now hear about them all the time because large companies are investing in them. You have to think about intergenerational wealth transfer, about millennials starting to invest for the first time, about bridging generations. We have high net worth parents with their complex household and all the needs of that household and then their kids, and then have to give them different experiences at the advisor level, at the phone level, or at the Chatbot level, that all plug into the same investment product and architecture.

AdvisorEngine is the answer to that question. It was designed for that. But the problem has not been solved. I still think it’s an amazing opportunity to help translate that digitization. AdvisorEngine’s doing that. Orion is doing it well, and Envestnet is trying to do that well. I have to respect the competitors because they understand where things are going and they’re also moving in the right direction. I also have to respect when we compete against FutureAdvisor and SigFig; they’ve done a nice job of working with large organizations and gaining the trust of those organizations. Between those five names—AdvisorEngine, Orion, Investnet, SigFig, and Future Advisor—basically that’s the vector of digitization of all wealth management assets in the US.

That’s a short-term problem and that’s a problem that has an end. There’s a longer-term problem, which is what I’ve been focusing on at Autonomous Research. What I am doing now is thinking about not just wealth management, but all aspects of FinTech and all aspects of technology, and this fundamental question of what happens to humans and financial services in a world that looks nothing like what we grew up in. In that larger problem, the issue is certainly Big Data and AI.

We’re coming into a world where software knows us better than we know ourselves, not in terms of consciousness but in terms of statistical inference. It is true that software literally knows our choices better than we know how to make our choices. When you’re in a place like that, where the large high-tech companies can manufacture choices for us, the question is who will do that from a financial perspective? Will it continue to be the traditional financial companies who somehow develop the capability of Big Data and AI, or will it be the large high-tech companies who already have this data and somehow trip into manufacturing financial products, or will it be financial technology startups that are somehow able to grow even though there’s very little space to grow in? It’s a very hard soil for them to grow in.

To me, that’s the big question because I want to live in a world where people have their financial lives, they’re not stressed out about it, and they can overcome these demographic challenges. They’re also able to make choices. Just because software gives options doesn’t mean that I’m forced to do all of it. I can think for myself and that’s a big question mark. I’d say that’s also the biggest opportunity for people that are starting companies now.

Interviewed by Vasyl Soloshchuk, CEO and co-owner at INSART, FinTech & Java engineering company. Vasyl is also author of the WealthTech Club blog, which conducts research into Fortune and Startup Robo-advisor and Wealth Management companies in terms of the technology ecosystem.

Josh Book

CEO of ParameterInsights

WealthTech Insights #27 with Josh Book: Build, buy or partner? How tech engages with wealth management

Continuing the dialogue with WealthTech influencers, we spoke with Josh Book, founder and CEO of Canadian ParameterInsights, and discussed what’s trending in the market as well as the future of…

Matthew Wolniewicz

President of Fi360.

WealthTech Insights #26 with Matt Wolniewicz: Automating tasks and adhering to the changing regulatory landscape

Matt Wolniewicz, the president of Fi360, shares his thoughts on major trends, benefits of big data analytics and artificial intelligence, FinTech companies to watch. Matt also gives some insights about…

Alexis Kalmanovitz

Founder and managing director of Zelig Associates

WealthTech Insights #25 with Alexis Kalmanovitz: On cultural difference and high touch in wealth management

With Alexis Kalmanovitz, who specializes in financial technology focusing on enterprise services, we discuss upcoming trends in wealth management, such as digitizing the industry, big data and AI, and the…

Stephen Huppert

Head of Engagement at Optimum Pensions and Director…

WealthTech Insights #24 with Stephen Huppert: Superannuation funds demystified

With Stephen Huppert, a Melbourne-based superannuation expert who recently started his own independent consulting practice, we discussed the difference between robo-advice and digital advice, AI, machine learning, data analytics, regulations…

Robert J. Stanich

Global Banking and Financial Markets Offering Manager at…

WealthTech Insights #23 with Robert J. Stanich. Modern-day wealth management: A top-line revenue model

For this interview, we met with Robert J. Stanich, an offering manager for the wealth-management and banking arms at IBM Watson Financial Services. Here, we present his thoughts on industry…

Bryan Sachdeva

Vice President of Wealth Management Solutions at NexJ Systems

WealthTech Insights #22 with Bryan Sachdeva: Highly Personalized Experience will define the Industry Winners

With Bryan, I discussed global trends in wealth management and how these differ around the world, and tapped into the persisting debate about humans and robo components in the industry…

Bertrand Rassat

Director of TradingScreen SA (Suisse)

WealthTech Insights #21 with Bertrand Rassat: Regulations as Industry Drivers

An interview with Bertrand Rassat, Managing Director Wealth Management Division & Director of TradingScreen SA (Suisse). Bertrand is an expert in wealth management and technological disruption. He compares the European…

Jeff Marsden

Chief Product & Strategy Officer at Xtiva Financial Systems

WealthTech Insights #20 with Jeff Marsden: Robo-Advisors Bring Leverageable Advantage to the Advisor Marketplace

Jeff shares his vision of the wealth market in the US, UK, and Canada, and expresses his expectations of using big data analytics and the benefits this may bring. We…