Guest Opinion: Facebook and Asset Management: Where is the Love?

Guest Opinion: Facebook and Asset Management: Where is the Love?

Facebook has over two billion users: a following no other social media company has been able to achieve. Blackrock has over $6 trillion in assets: an amount no other asset manager has ever managed to best. If you search “Blackrock” on Facebook, however, you are likely to default to the “Blackrock Steakhouse” page, as Facebook search uses the number of fans to rank results.

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Guest Opinion: Mortgage Companies: Beware of Fintechs Bearing Gifts

Guest Opinion: Mortgage Companies: Beware of Fintechs Bearing Gifts

It’s 2018, and Quicken Loans, the consensus tech darling of major mortgage companies, has surpassed Wells Fargo to be the top originator during the preceding year.  In rapid succession, both Bank of America and Suntrust announced digital origination platforms.  Not to be outdone, LoanDepot debuted a $100mm HQ for its mello digital brand, complete with a 30-foot slide.

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Guest Opinion: A Case for Belief-Aligned Investment Advice

Guest Opinion: A Case for Belief-Aligned Investment Advice

[Disclaimer: This post is intended to support investor activism, irrespective of investors’ political preferences.] If recent world events are any indication, we should expect to see an increase in individual investors demanding that their investments reflect their beliefs; it’s their money, after all. The gap in today’s personal finance and investment advice space to service this demand presents an opportunity for all types of financial advisors

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Guest Opinion: Millennial Mismatching in Housing Finance

Guest Opinion: Millennial Mismatching in Housing Finance

Fellow NPR nerds likely spent this past week eagerly awaiting excerpts from an interview with Messrs. Bernanke, Paulson and Geithner (the “Committee of Three”) marking the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis that precipitated the Great Recession. As if to underscore its proximate cause, Paulson remarked that “mortgages are ground zero of, you know, the crisis…”

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Guest Opinion: What Fintech Entrepreneurs Can Learn from a Nation’s Complaints

Guest Opinion: What Fintech Entrepreneurs Can Learn from a Nation’s Complaints

While the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) tries to figure out who it is under the Trump administration, we’d like to shed some light on one of its more populist functions:a soap box upon which to complain about the indignities of our financial products. My colleague Will Thomsen and I had a hunch there might be some nuggets of wisdom and opportunity for fintech entrepreneurs

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Guest Opinion: Can We Put a Price on Higher Education?

Guest Opinion: Can We Put a Price on Higher Education?

It will come as no surprise to most readers that student debt is one of the most prominent forces in many people’s lives. At $1.48 trillion, US student loan debt exceeds the GDP of 84% of the countries on earth. This is spread across 44 million borrowers, with the average graduate in 2016 leaving school with over $37,000 in debt. 

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Guest Opinion: In Code We Trust?

Guest Opinion: In Code We Trust?

For something to have worth and command a price, it must provide some utility, benefit or satisfaction to a buyer. Intrinsic value is the quantification of that worth. Once there is value, the forces of demand and supply in the marketplace determine price. Tangible assets such as food, a car or real estate are easy to value.

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Nine Things in the Offing for 2028

Nine Things in the Offing for 2028

There have been a sizable number of great prediction lists covering the upcoming year. As such, we decided to avoid the 2018 talk. Instead, I put a quarter into the magical coin operated binocular viewer near our office and set the dial to 2028. The images were blurry, but many of them looked really cool anyway.

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Keeping up with Quantopian’s John Fawcett

Keeping up with Quantopian’s John Fawcett

Last December, I had the chance to sit down with John Fawcett in a Boston coffee shop soon after his company, Quantopian, announced its shock-and-awe Series C. That round had been led by Andreessen Horowitz and included a host of top VCs, along with Steve Cohen’s Point72 Ventures. As a seasoned entrepreneur, Fawcett knew that taking in a fresh $25 million of capital from a Who’s Who of heavyweights wasn’t cause for celebration.

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Guest Opinion: The Digital Evolution of Stock Trading

Guest Opinion: The Digital Evolution of Stock Trading

Some people in life you don’t forget. For me, one of these people is Shawn Dorsch, president of Clear Market Holdings, an electronic trading company. I first met Shawn at Art’s Barbecue in Charlotte, NC, after he agreed to be a mentor to our company. Shawn has the impressive skill of switching contexts effortlessly. One moment, he would be explaining to us the intricacies of the stock market. The next, he would be on the phone with an investor in Tokyo, rattling off Japanese.

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Guest Opinion: Innovation Davids vs. Scale Seeking Goliaths in Payments

Guest Opinion: Innovation Davids vs. Scale Seeking Goliaths in Payments

Malcolm Gladwell turned the biblical story of David and Goliath on its head by noting that the giant was actually much weaker than his opponent. So why, as Gladwell asks, do we continue to tell the story the way we do? Maybe it’s because we’re built to root for the underdog while fearing the giant. I think the same dynamic is at work in the payments field, with tech start-ups the traditional Davids and payments processors the Goliaths.

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Guest Opinion: Our Dangerous Innovation Blind Spots

Guest Opinion: Our Dangerous Innovation Blind Spots

Just the other day, I was on the phone with an entrepreneur I met at a start-up event. During the course of the conversation, he told me that he was relocating from Houston to the Bay Area. In fact, he was literally driving as we spoke. His main reasons? A lack of mentors and a support system back home. In the course of the next three short months in California, on Castro Street, he was able to meet investors, mentors, and people that he otherwise did not have access to, one of whom became the CTO of his company. 

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Guest Opinion: Data is Holding Back AI

Guest Opinion: Data is Holding Back AI

I remember grumbling, “Good lord this is a waste of time,” in 1992 while I was working on an AI application for lip-reading. The grumble escaped my lips because I felt like I was spending half my time inputting data cleanly into the video processing neural network. Bouncing from a video capture device to a DEC workstation to a Convex Supercomputer to a Cray, I felt like I had been thrown into a caldron of Chinese water torture.

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Guest Opinion: Sales Practices Under the Microscope

Guest Opinion: Sales Practices Under the Microscope

The use of sales incentives to influence the behavior of salespeople and how they sell to customers has a long history in the United States. For this, we have the National Cash Register (NCR) Company to thank, as it widely popularized the use of short-term incentives (STIs) in the late nineteenth century. Today, of course, a myriad of sales programs are used by countless companies to align agent and principal goals. 

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Guest Opinion: The Reemergence of De Novo Bank Charters

Guest Opinion: The Reemergence of De Novo Bank Charters

The ability to charter a de novo bank, once a reasonably achievable task, has, over the past decade, become an almost impossible feat. Part of the reason de novo bank creation has stalled is the regulatory reaction to the 2007-09 financial crisis. The crisis caused bank regulators to recoil from any action they perceive might increase systemic risk, and they have thus diverted their efforts to implementing regulatory reforms and managing bank failures

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Guest Opinion: Recent Hacks Could Accelerate Risk Management Innovation

Guest Opinion: Recent Hacks Could Accelerate Risk Management Innovation

The severity of the recent data breaches at Equifax — in which personally identifiable information on over 143 million US consumers was stolen by unknown hackers — and the US Securities and Exchange Commission — whose Edgar database processes over 1.7 million corporate filings per year — underscores the enormous issue of cyber risk.

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Guest Opinions: The AI-Driven Bank in Emerging Markets

Guest Opinions: The AI-Driven Bank in Emerging Markets

If you think artificial intelligence is a thing of the future, ask yourself why your Amazon homepage looks different from ours or how Google translates websites on the fly. Consumers in developed and developing countries are benefiting today from these smarter types of software. In particular, the subfield of Machine Learning is making rapid strides in everything from detecting rare types of cancer to correcting our grammar. In essence, software development is transitioning from a process where humans figure out a few rules for the machines

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Guest Opinion: Know Your Customer? Are You Sure?

Guest Opinion: Know Your Customer? Are You Sure?

I love movies about great mathematicians, real or fictional. The Imitation Game and Good Will Hunting are great ones, but A Beautiful Mind is my favorite. This movie profiles John Nash, who became a pioneer in game theory and won a Nobel Prize along the way. Because of this, I paid quite a bit of attention to game theory in grad school and constantly looked for applications. Over time I became disappointed, as the models I experimented with didn’t work as well in the real world as in the “games.”

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Guest Opinion: Why Robo-Analysts, Not Robo-Advisors, Will Transform Investing

Guest Opinion: Why Robo-Analysts, Not Robo-Advisors, Will Transform Investing

Robo-advisors and robo-analysts are both important to enabling wealth management firms to cut costs without sacrificing quality of advice, but the importance of a robo-analyst to enhance the quality of investment advice shouldn’t be underestimated. Today, many of the tasks performed by robo-advisors are low value-added services such as determining and communicating asset allocation strategies (e.g., 60% equities, 30% fixed income and 10% cash).

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Guest Opinion: The Coming Resurgence of Active Management

Guest Opinion: The Coming Resurgence of Active Management

Active management has long been the foundation of a well-functioning stock market.  Many of the brightest minds on Wall Street have dedicated their careers to separating the good ideas from the bad, doing deep research to allocate capital to the right themes, sectors and companies.  The by-product for the rest of us has generally been an exceptionally healthy stock market with relatively efficient asset prices.

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