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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Guest Opinion: Burning Down Markowitz’s House

Guest Opinion: Burning Down Markowitz’s House

“Watch out, you might get what you’re after” was an anthem sung by a frantic David Byrne in the Talking Heads classic, Burning Down the House.  When the song was released in the mid-1980s, Wall Street was also in a frantic mode of its own. In the ensuing decade, it began providing its clients with more technology to better access markets and more products to replicate the strategies being employed by institutional investors.

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Guest Opinion: A Sharper Focus on Wealth Management’s Future

Guest Opinion: A Sharper Focus on Wealth Management’s Future

Since Steve Jobs’ death in 2011, four biographies, three documentaries and three feature films have been released about him. His legend grows and he continues to inspire. Yet, those in the wealth management industry should never read another word about Jobs. Instead, if advisors really want to prepare for the future and confront the changes they will encounter, it would be prudent to review the career of George M. C. Fisher.

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Nine Things That Could Happen Next Year

Nine Things That Could Happen Next Year

2016 was a bad year for most prognosticators. As such, we’re bringing a humble attitude to the table for our nine predictions for 2017. After all, we could be right on the call, and wrong on it materializing within the next 365 days. Conversely, we could be wrong on our underlying assumption, but predict correctly thanks to a so-called ‘slop shot’ (i.e., a lucky shot in pool). So, with that in mind, let’s play nine-ball.

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Guest Opinion: Time to go Deep on Deep Learning

Guest Opinion: Time to go Deep on Deep Learning

Artificial Intelligence is no longer something to be associated with the future. It is very much in the here and now, and is being employed by corporations and governments throughout the world to make decisions that impact many aspects of our lives. Mainstream attention has exploded in recent years on the back of a rise in ...

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You Can’t Have Two First Priorities

You Can’t Have Two First Priorities

In his recent testimony before the Senate Banking committee, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf  accepted accountability for the phony account scandal that overtook the bank under his watch. He also made it perfectly clear that encouraging employees to cross-sell products and services to existing customers will remain core to the bank’s strategy. As Stumpf said ...

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