FintekNews is pleased to offer our weekly feature column “3 Questions”. Each week, we feature a thought leader within a unique sector of fintech and ask them to answer just 3 questions for our audience in their vernacular. This week, as we observe the Thanksgiving holiday, FintekNews is pleased to reintroduce you to our friend and ardent fintech advocate and thought leader, Dara Albright, who was the first to be featured in this column when we launched in July 2016. Dara is the founder of Dara Albright Media, and also co-founded the the FinFair Conference & LendIt Conference. On November 15th, she hosted an event in NYC to a sold out house, “The Trillion Dollar FinTech Opportunity”. You can view the slideshow from the event at this link.
NAME: Dara Albright
COMPANY: Dara Albright Media
WEB ADDRESS: www.daraalbright.com
How did you personally become involved in fintech?
My entree into FinTech dates back to the late 1990s when I left my Wall Street job, put on my first entrepreneurial hat, and set out to launch an Internet-based solution that would help investment bankers, investor relations professionals and sell-side syndicates more effectively market securities offerings. Concurrently, the product sought to democratize investor access to Wall Street’s roadshow and conference calendar.
The idea came to me at a financial conference in 1996 as I observed our presenters’ stocks tick up just as portfolio managers swarmed the hotel lobby payphones to place buy orders with their trading desks. I realized that I was witnessing the live proliferation of stock demand – something that even the most insightful traders are unable to detect simply from monitoring tickers. Especially during the great bull market of the 1990s, Wall Street’s conference and roadshow calendar was a reliable leading indicator of stock price surges. Near the end of the decade, as online trading became more prevalent, I endeavored to bring this time sensitive institutional-level data to a growing market of online retail investors.
Unfortunately, just as my “FinTech” startup was beginning to gain some traction, the dot com bubble decided to burst. While, at the time, it was both financially as well as emotionally crushing, strains of that initial concept reverberate within every FinTech endeavor I’ve pursued ever since.
In 2011, upon detecting shifts in online finance driven by new legislative proposals and social technologies, I began producing cutting-edge conferences and content to introduce the investment community to the new alternative asset classes and FinTech opportunities emanating from these changes. I continue to remain on the forefront of this FinTech revolution.
What area/s of fintech do you believe will grow the most in the coming 5 years?
I believe that tax-deferred micro alternative investing is the future of financial services (read article here). As such, I foresee the biggest area of FinTech growth occurring in the retail retirement sector. This is a $14 trillion market that is ripe for innovation and disruption – particularly as more and more retail investors embrace online lending, crowd-investing and demand access to a broader array of alternative asset classes in general.
Retail investors generally invest with their retirement dollars – not the cash they have sitting in taxable accounts. And since traditional IRA and 401k plans don’t support most alternative investing, the only way for retail investors to access these alternative products is through the Self-Directed IRA (SDIRA). Until the very recent launch of IRA Services’ ISCP™ technology, SDIRA investing has proved to be too cost prohibitive and cumbersome to be employed by smaller retail investors and online finance platforms.
ISCP™ technology, a cloud-based API solution, finally makes tax-deferred micro investing both economical and simple for even the smallest of investors. Consequently, this technology could inspire a new wave of FinTech innovation focused on giving small retail investors the very same opportunities to diversify retirement portfolios as investors of size are able to enjoy.
As tax-deferred micro investing spreads across the masses, the modern SDIRA could very well do for retail alternatives what the IRA/401k did for mutual funds more than 30 years ago – allow a nascent asset class flourish into a multi-trillion dollar market.
What fintech leader do you admire the most and why?
This is such a tough question because I truly admire so many. I think Ron Suber of Prosper has been a tremendous spokesperson and visionary for the peer finance industry, and I admire his efforts to unite the industry through educational awareness. I am a huge fan of Mark Rockefeller of StreetShares and Brian Dally of GROUNDFLOOR – both have been able to employ new legislation to create higher yielding credit products for the masses. I appreciate their strong dedication to serving the retail investor. But if I must pick one, I am going to have to say Andy Klein of WIT Capital, the company that first proved the Internet’s capability in facilitating online offerings. It was Andy’s work in the 1990s that not only inspired me, but paved the way for the next evolution of financial services.
Finally, since this feature is called “3 Questons”, we can’t ask you another quesiton, so please share with us your favorite invention of all time.
The Flux Capacitor
Dara Albright is a recognized authority, thought provoker and frequent speaker on topics relating to market structure, private secondary transactions, next-gen IPOs, P2P, FinTech and crowdfinance. Albright has held a distinguished 23 year career in IPO execution, investment banking, corporate communications, financial marketing as well as institutional and retail sales. She is a graduate of the George Washington University and has held securities industry Series 7, 24, 31 and 63 licenses.