FintekNews is pleased to offer our 7th installation of our 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 we are pleased to introduce you to Steve Dunlap, President & COO of FolioDynamix, a cloud-based fintech positioned to the wealth management sector.
President & COO
How did you personally become involved in fintech?
As is so often true with career paths, I fell into fintech mostly by accident. I was a financial advisor (or stockbroker, as we called ourselves then) at Legg Mason. A salesman for a new mutual fund illustration system being built by CDA/Weisenberger, which was owned by Thomson Financial, stopped by. As an early adopter and computer nerd, I was one of the only two people in the branch that owned a PC in those days, so the branch manager sent him to talk to me. After 30 minutes of me telling him how his software program should work, he suggested I meet with the CEO. I was soon hired as the product manager for the new system, and spent the next year designing the system. We ultimately built a $26 million business around that product, and it’s still part of Thomson One today. That was it – I was hooked on fintech and hooked on building platforms and products that long outlast my tenure.
What area/s of fintech do you believe will grow the most in the coming 5 years?
At FolioDynamix, we coined the term “fiborg” to encapsulate our view of the most impactful trend in our space – the merging of the human touch with technology. For financial advisors, this means leveraging technology to make them better at what they already do and improve how they deliver their service and advice to their customers. Robo is a poor analogy because robots generally replace humans, while cyborgs are technology-enhanced humans: hence, the dawn of the fiborg.
This area of technology, enabling firms and advisors to adapt to or create new digital/analog hybrid service models, and enable online collaboration, innovative service models, asyncronous communications, and services that are enhanced by advanced analytics is the most significant growth area for fintech. Most financial services are already delivered through financial intermediaries in some form, and providers need help re-imagining their service delivery models and the technology that supports them. More significant changes are coming, and technology-enhanced service delivery is already table-stakes in other industries. Traditional financial advisors are behind the curve, but as this segment co-opts the experimental technolgies pioneered by early-stage robo advisors and other innovators, the industry will blossom and grow as winners rise and find ways of serving digital natives while those that fail to adapt are left behind.
What has been the biggest success in your firm to date?
The towering strength of FolioDynamix and the primary driver behind our extraordinary success is the powerful technology we built to automate highly complex model-based trading and rebalancing. No other firm provides comparable flexibility and power to individual financial advisors and asset managers, and since in some firms up to 80% of advisory assets may be in advisor-directed programs, there is very strong demand for this capability across the industry. Simply put, we solved a complicated problem and did it better than the other guys.
Similar innovate will be behind our future growth, too. With a singificant installed base for our full wealth management platform, we are well positioned to provide additional innovative capabilities that help our clients grow their businesses and surf industry trends. We have numerous new initiatives and technologies “in the lab” now, so stay tuned.
About Steve Dunlap:
As President and Chief Operating Officer of FolioDynamix, Steve is responsible for driving innovation, keeping customers happy, and ensuring the company operates soundly. Over nearly three decades in the financial services industry he has made a name for himself as a creative thinker, a passionate leader and a tireless advocate for the financial advisor. He is well known in the financial technology or “fintech” space, serving on the boards of several other innovative companies. He has spent his career developing technology businesses that enable financial institutions and their advisors to better serve investors.