The smartest minds in fintech on how Wall Street is going to change

The smartest minds in fintech on how Wall Street is going to change

The advent of technological change is reshaping Wall Street at a rapid rate.

Business Insider surveyed a number of the brightest minds in financial technology, including chief information officers at industry giants, heads of innovation, startup founders and venture capitalists, and asked them one question.

What is the one thing that is going to change finance as we know it in the next decade?

Their answers varied widely, but there was a handful common theme that ran through all of their responses.

The old models are changing, technology is making some systems antiquated, and new players are going to emerge.

Here is what they had to say:

David Gurle, CEO of financial messaging and data platform Symphony

“It’s going to change in a number of ways. I’m not a specialist in finance, I’m a specialist in technology, but what I can tell you is this: there is today an operating system that makes the financial system work, the system that ties things together. That is a vertically integrated system, in the same way Windows is.

Over the course of the next 10 years, with cloud computing, with open source, we’re going to see a model where the transformation of this system is the same as from Windows to Linux. You’re going to see organizations being more technologically driven, like Goldman Sachs and others, and giving components of their assets as applications. That is going to make the life of people who interact with financial services way easier and more cost effective.

“There’s a huge infrastructure and technology cost today. Institutions spend billions of dollars on technology. Why? Because of this vertical model. As this transforms itself into unbundling and a horizontal integration like Linux provides, the cost is going to go down. Eventually, that’s going to benefit all of us because the cost of transactions will go down and we’ll find better deals. I’m pretty optimistic about that.”

Blythe Masters, CEO of Digital Asset Holdings

“By and large you’re going to see people moving into more value-added roles thanks to the advent of blockchain technology which will result in middle and back office operational burdens being dramatically reduced.”

Suresh Kumar, chief information officer, BNY Mellon

“Silicon Valley firms are willing to share technology and knowledge when it doesn’t jeopardize their competitive advantage. They’re focused on talent. Empowering their people to try new things, fail fast and pivot is key to their innovation. The future for Wall Street, and finance more broadly, could also be more collaborative.

“Rather than each firm investing time and money to build its own nearly identical processes, we could work together to create start-ups to improve those functions.”

Mike Cagney, chief executive of SoFi

“We’ll see the emergence of the non-bank bank — because banks won’t fix banking.  Companies will finally be able to secure a national lending license without FDIC-insured deposits insured deposits, giving consumers better technology (mobile) and lower loan rates (less regulatory burden, branch overhead).  These pioneers will aggregate deposits using private insurance, paying slightly more than FDIC costs but avoiding the regulatory burdens that come with that protection.  The massive misallocation of human capital – such as physicists working on Wall Street pricing options – will reverse out, and the influx of human capital into areas like battery technology will benefit everyone. The then-rare Wall Street bulge bracket analyst – whose compensation has fallen by 80% – will even be able to buy an electric car.”

Rob Frohwein, CEO & Co-founder of Kabbage

“The line between banks and non-banks will become completely blurred as more and more companies seek to integrate banking like services into the experiences they provide to their customers – both SMBs and consumers – and banks realize that technology and user experience build trust. Look for the day that Google, Apple & Facebook acquire, and extinguish the brands of, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase and branches, to the extent they even exist any longer, start mimicking an Apple store like experience.”

Renaud Laplanche, CEO & founder of Lending Club

“Online marketplaces will take over financial services the same way they have transformed retail, entertainment, transportation and hospitality. All of US banking activity will be faciliated through a massive online marketplace.”

Wells Fargo’s executive vice president and Head of Innovation, Steve Ellis

“Financial services are essentially digital in nature. The proliferation of mobile devices coupled with the Internet of Things and the emergence of new technologies provides a platform to deliver payments and other finance products in new ways. Traditional financial players are being joined by fintech companies and businesses in virtually every industry in delivering existing and new services to customers.

“One primary key is delivering financial services where and when customers want them, whether that’s at an ATM, through a mobile application, at the point of sale, or at a bank branch. A second primary key is that financial services are delivered by and consumed by people – even with all the technological marvels, bells and whistles, the best run businesses have that human touch. Business is personal.”


Morgan Downey of

“If you’ve ever watched the original Wall Street movie with Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas from 1987 you will notice that almost every trader is sitting behind a screen with a black background and green text.   Every trader on Wall Street had one.  It was called ‘The Quotron’.  The Quotron was a dedicated machine connected over dedicated cables to dedicated servers.  This was just before the internet boomed.   Within a few short years in the early 1990s Quotron went from total domination to bust and ceded trading floors to Bloomberg and what is now Thomson Reuters.  

“Since then, for the past 25 years, there has been little innovation on market information platforms.  There have only been price increases to a now ridiculous $25,000 per user per year. This is now changing.  

“Just like the demise of Quotron, change on trading floors can happen surprisingly quickly.  Global Wall Street is voting with its wallet.  Growth has stagnated at legacy terminal systems.”

Sam Hodges, co-founder of Funding Circle

“We’re on the brink of the largest financial services revolution the world has ever seen. Small businesses are underserved in almost every market by traditional financial institutions, and so we’re building a better solution.

“The marketplace model will eventually become the institutional framework of the global financial system – and this will happen within 20 years. Banks and other traditional financial institutions who embrace this sea-change will have a distinct advantage in delivering a superior experience for their customers, as well as better returns over time.”

Adam Nash, President and CEO of Wealthfront

“For the first time in decades, there are now two huge generations moving through the American economy. In ten years, 90 million millennials will be between the ages of 25 and 45, and will control more than $7 trillion in assets. The biggest changes over the next decade in finance and Wall Street will be based on the increasing demands of this generation that is destined to be the largest one economically this country has ever seen. Demands for transparency, simplicity and automation will dramatically improve the options available for retail investors. In ten years, everyone will be using some form of automated investment service.”

Ethan Senturia, CEO of online lender Dealstruck

“Suits and ties will be replaced by hoodies and blue jeans as new technologies with a user-first focus on transparency and efficiency become the new norm for how the most common financial transactions are done. And with the use of technology, big data algorithms and new data sources will make it much faster and easier to secure financing than ever before.”

Ryan Bailey, CEO of analytics startup Contix

“As greater quantities of high quality data become widely and efficiently dispersed via social media, the finance realm will be far more democratized. The new generation of great traders may not work in Manhattan’s towers.”

Alex Rampell, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz and ex-CEO of TrialPay, a startup recently sold to Visa


“My general sense is that, today, you would build a bank with no branches, no ATMs, fewer employees. It’s a real disadvantage for any bank that was formed more than five years ago.”

Will Rhode, global head of capital markets research at Boston Consulting Group

“We will see new types of intermediaries with access to unique data sets start to emerge and act like banks. We will also see the buy side leveraging their own data to do more business independently of banks. This will force banks to look more like technology companies especially in areas where efficiency is sought or where the value add is lower, such as in the most liquid, simple securities.”

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