The Financial Solutions Lab’s highest-rated meeting last year was a two-day series of high-profile events in D.C. and New York City. Many of the Lab winners cited this meeting in their evaluation of the program as the most valuable to their business. As Ethan Bloch, CEO of Digit told us, this kind of access Financial Solutions Lab provides “has been phenomenal as it has allowed Digit to be involved in conversations directly impacting the future of fintech.”
This year, we returned to Washington, D.C. and New York City with our 2016 class for another round of much anticipated and highly impactful meetings to close out the calendar year 2016.
Washington, D.C. – Day 1
Financial Solutions Lab spent a total of 10 hours in D.C. Our first stop was the White House. Financial Solutions Lab companies participated in a special briefing with Adrienne Harris, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at the National Economic Council. Harris and the Financial Solutions Lab companies candidly discussed a range of policy implications in the financial technology sector and opportunities ripe for fintech innovation.
Next, the Financial Solutions Lab companies had 30 minutes to shuttle themselves over to the Bipartisan Policy Center, which graciously hosted a Regulatory Roundtable discussion with over 30 senior representatives from all major financial regulators at the federal level. The impressive turnout was equally matched by the level of engagement in the room. Financial Solutions Lab companies provided a deeper look into the mechanics and consumer impact of their products, and also shared some of the regulatory hurdles hindering their ability to scale. The exchange of questions, comments, and feedback positively reinforced the critical role the Financial Health Network and the Financial Solutions Lab play in bridging the divide between regulation and financial technology.
Following the roundtable discussion, several Financial Solutions Lab companies attended one-on-one meetings with key regulators and congressmen, including other regulatory agencies and offices of key members of Congress. After a short break, the Financial Solutions Lab companies reconvened for a second roundtable discussion with consumer advocates, civil rights organizations, and national advocacy groups. Attendees included AARP, Consumer Federation of America, CFED, Credit Builders Alliance, National Disability Institute, National Urban League, World Disability Institute, and many more.
The day concluded with an evening reception where Financial Solutions Lab companies were able to meet and network with a broader set of influential D.C. stakeholders across the policy and advocacy communities. With luggage in hand, we then departed to take an Acela Express straight to Penn Station in New York City.
New York City – Day 2
Lab companies spent the next day at JPMorgan Chase’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. Senior leaders at the bank discussed a variety of topics with the Financial Solutions Lab companies, including how the bank views the future of banking, evaluates and executes partnerships with fintech companies, and sources and assesses strategic investments, among other topics. Financial Solutions Lab companies often tell us that getting this level of expertise and insight from industry leaders is a really valuable resource they are able to provide.
Financial Solutions Lab companies also got to hear more tactical advice on either how banks apply the Community Reinvestment Act credits or how human resources departments are starting to think about financial wellness benefits for employees. Next, each company met with three different JPMC senior executives that oversee areas relevant to the companies. The day ended with a reception with JPMC employees, nonprofit partners, and other ecosystem partners of both the Financial Health Network and JPMC. Several Financial Solutions Lab companies also had separate meetings with various JPMC employees, organized by their assigned JPMC mentors.
Overall, the two-day meeting served as a reminder that the fintech ecosystem is more than startups and VCs. Incumbents, regulators, consumer advocates, and many others have important roles that early-stage startups often overlook.