Guest Opinion: Blessed Are the Meek, for They Will Inherit Residential Housing

Guest Opinion: Blessed Are the Meek, for They Will Inherit Residential Housing

In the four years since Marc Andreessen cast his gaze on financial services and declared that “we can reinvent the entire thing,” unleashing torrents of unbundling narratives, the incumbent banks seem to be rediscovering their groove in residential housing, leveraging their span of customer engagement to develop a fintech-powered take on the age-old financial supermarket narrative.

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Guest Opinion: Financial Reporting Standards Can Foster Municipal Market Disruption

Guest Opinion: Financial Reporting Standards Can Foster Municipal Market Disruption

While fintech start-ups are disrupting many financial markets, the US municipal bond market has been largely left behind. As a result, the $3.9-trillion muni market remains largely inefficient, replete with frictions that reduce investor returns and raise costs for issuers. Higher costs for municipal bond issuers translate into a combination of higher taxes and reduced services, so minimizing issuance costs and constraining coupon rates is a matter of public interest, and should attract support throughout the political spectrum.

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Guest Opinion: Lending a Hand: Venture Capital Can Bring Growing Pains for Entrepreneurs

Guest Opinion: Lending a Hand: Venture Capital Can Bring Growing Pains for Entrepreneurs

Finding and securing a steady inflow of capital is the harbinger of uncertainty for many founders and start-ups. Whether it’s bootstrapping with whatever resources are available or securing seed financing, start-ups face the ever-present challenge of keeping the ship above water. For some, this eats away at productivity that could have been used somewhere else. For others, it’s a sure-fire sign that infighting could threaten the company’s lifespan.

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Guest Opinion: Retirement 2.0?

Guest Opinion: Retirement 2.0?

As the onslaught of dire warnings about the disappearing ability to retire continues to inundate the popular press and our inbox , it begs the questions: “Are the warnings justified?”; “Is this true?”; and if so, “Why?”  Have people simply become less responsible, or is there perhaps more to this than meets the eye? This sea change led me to take a look back to when the current crop of retirees entered the workforce, to understand what may have been different than for those who came before.

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Guest Opinion: A Global Macro View on Amazon HQ2

Guest Opinion: A Global Macro View on Amazon HQ2

Amazon has been getting a lot of free buzz lately.  The Seattle FANG has been holding a bake-off to see which city will host the company’s second headquarters, and towns have been falling over themselves to offer tax breaks and every benefit they can drum up.  Excitement has been building as cities have been eliminated, and now we’re down to twenty survivors.

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Guest Opinion: Financial Services Should Fully Embrace Deep Learning

Guest Opinion: Financial Services Should Fully Embrace Deep Learning

At first glance, deep learning has the hallmark hype of a technology trend that prudent institutions would do well to avoid. But beyond their celebrated successes in image recognition and translation, there are subtle and persuasive reasons for financial services organizations to deploy deep learning models, even if they haven’t used simpler machine learning methods before.

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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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