This week’s tech news, filtered for financial services execs

April 18

Hello and welcome to Insights Distilled, a weekly email briefing that curates tactical technology news for financial services execs. Every Tuesday morning, we send you the top five stories you need to know – and explain why they matter. Our tech news roundup helps you stay on top of the innovations driving business agility in your industry. To get next week’s edition in your inbox, sign up here.


This week’s edition includes several stories about partnerships and highlights a handful of blockbuster funding rounds, representing more than $450 million in total invested capital and showing how the overall funding drought can be broken for the right companies.  

Each featured firm’s funding includes at least one strategic financial services investor: Vanguard for Altruist, IMC Financial for Clear Street, and Goldman Sachs for AlphaSense.  

These kinds of investments are often a launchpad for deeper partnerships or synergies (for more on ways that FinServs and ScaleUps can work together, check out our advice-packed report here). 

Let’s dive in: 

  1. Better knowledge management: How Goldman Sachs could use an AI-powered chatbot
  2. Blockchain benefits: A group of investment firms are testing on-chain trade execution
  3. An upgrade for investment advisors: Meet the startup taking on Schwab and Fidelity
  4. Move fast, break nothing: Why a UK regulator has partnered with NayaOne
  5. Modernization moment: How Clear Street is rethinking capital markets tech

Goldman Sachs’ CIO has a vision for how to use an AI-powered “ChatGS” to help shape knowledge sharing within the bank.   

Musings on ways to use generative AI in finance have continued: A tech leader at Goldman Sachs believes that large language models and chatbots could enable better knowledge sharing than traditional software-management systems, which have often failed to live up to expectations.  

A top Goldman Sachs executive suggests that an AI-powered chatbot could help the bank record, store, retain, and access institutional knowledge.  

Chief information officer Marco Argenti sent an email to the bank’s engineering staff, seen by Fortune, where he laid out a vision for a tool that could transform how the bank stores and accesses institutional info.  

“Within a corporation, most knowledge is not codified. It’s tribal,” Argenti wrote. “It resides in the minds of ‘experts,’ connected by an internal social network that takes years to master.”  

That obviously has its downsides: It’s difficult to know where to find key info, and it can be lost completely when employees leave. However, a “ChatGS” system that allows users to add and query information via natural language could make it easier for it to be recorded, stored, and made accessible. 

By removing the manual processes or specificity needed to update and search more traditional corporate knowledge management systems, this strategy could break down information silos. In that way, large language models (LLMs) are “a breakthrough in knowledge more than they are in productivity,” Argenti said.  

Internal knowledge sharing is just one way that financial institutions are thinking about using large language models and generative AI: 

For example, Bloomberg is working on a tool that would let its terminal clients quickly retrieve proprietary information and ask financial-analysis questions, Morgan Stanley is giving its advisors access to a tool that synthesizes its research, Swedish investment firm EQT programmed a chatbot to help its dealmakers benefit from its “Motherbrain” data platform, and fintech Klarna has deployed it externally for shopping recommendations.    


T. Rowe Price and other investment firms have started experimenting with blockchain-based trade execution through Ava Labs’ Spruce. 

There’s a renewed push on Wall Street to collaboratively test how blockchain technology could make financial transactions more efficient, in a low-risk way.

There’s a new project among a group of investment management firms to test the benefits of blockchain-based trade execution and settlement.  

T. Rowe Price, Cumberland, WisdomTree, and Wellington Management Group have kicked off an experiment to use Ava Labs’ Avalanche Evergreen Subnet “Spruce” to execute foreign exchange and interest rate swaps. This joint effort between stakeholders is noteworthy, as institutional blockchain efforts have often not been interoperable.  

Spruce purports to reduce costs and cut down on counterparty risk through simultaneous and instant settlement, permissioning based on know-your-customer certifications, geofencing, custom gas token selection, and more.  

“These features have been tailored to financial institutions’ needs after in-depth discussions with industry leaders on their prior challenges regarding broader public blockchain adoption,” Ava Labs director of business development for institutions and capital markets, Morgan Krupetsky, told Insights Distilled.  

The test project, which involves valueless tokens, “is an opportunity for us to really begin to explore … in a super low-risk environment, where there’s no capital at risk,” T. Rowe Price’s head of digital assets strategy, Blue Macellari, told Bloomberg.  

While the heyday of financial firms’ blockchain projects has faded, the comparative lack of hype actually makes it a good time for education, experimentation, and partnerships.  


A startup taking on Schwab and Fidelity in the $128 trillion investment advisor market just raised fresh funding.  

With funding from Vanguard and Insight Partners, among others, Altruist is betting that its all-in-one software stack can save registered investment advisors (RIAs) time, money, and manual work. The lesson for legacy players? Modernize or partner up.

Watch out incumbents: Altruist aims to be the modern custodian for RIAs.  

It posits that “legacy custodians have little incentive to innovate and rebuild technology,” which hampers advisors’ potential reach. By comparison, its platform can be a “game-changer.”  

Altruist says that its integrated clearing, custody, and advisory tools help advisors eliminate disjointed software, paper processes, and high operational costs.  

“It’s a deeply technical problem at every level that the team has solved with an intuitive user experience that’s unlike anything the RIA industry has ever seen,” according to Insight Partners managing director Jonathan Rosenbaum.  

The company’s $112 million Series D was led by Insight Partners and included industry leaders Bill McNabb, Ron Carson, and Marty Bicknell. The firm also disclosed a $110 Series C from November 2021 led by Declaration Partners, with participation from Vanguard.   

Altruist will use its fresh funding to expand its capabilities in portfolio management automation and personalization for clients, among other things. As of now, it has 3,300 RIAs using its platform and aims to increase its slice of the RIA market, which has $128 trillion in assets under management.  


The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority selected NayaOne to launch its new digital sandbox to tackle challenges like scam detection and greenwashing.  

So-called digital sandboxes – or self-contained test environments with synthetic data and prototyping tools – can take the pain out of proof-of-concepts for startups eager to work within the financial industry.

The chief data, information, and intelligence officer of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority just announced that the FCA will work with upstart NayaOne to build a safe, efficient way to test fintech products.  

The move to create a permanent sandbox follows several successful pilots. It also comes less than a year after the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau decided to shut down its own fintech-focused sandbox, which was unpopular with consumer protection groups and deemed “ineffective” by the CFPB. 

The FCA’s sandbox will give fintechs access to over 200 assets that they can use to test their tools, prove their products work and can protect consumers, and be a launch point for potential long-term partnerships. The regulator is particularly interested in tools that could help solve issues with authorized push payments fraud, greenwashing, and other scams.  

“One of the primary reasons we invest in tech and innovation is to provide better support and to regulate,” exec Jessica Rusu said. “The FCA digital transformation programs are centered on driving efficiencies and reducing the regulatory burden for firms.” 

Through its sandboxing tools, NayaOne promises to help firms test out tech for the highly regulated financial services industry securely, in less time, and at a lower cost. The firm announced a similar partnership with Lloyds Banking Group late last year.  


A startup that aims to shift capital markets trading from mainframes to modern infrastructure just raised $270 million.  

Clear Street has raised fresh funding – including from market maker IMC Financial – to replaced outdated infrastructure through its prime brokerage and clearing systems, which will help with “maximizing returns and minimizing risk and cost for clients.”

Clear Street is building the “modern infrastructure” for capital markets – and just raised a boatload of fresh funding to help the US securities industry break away from mainframe technology.  

Its platform integrates clearing, custody, prime financing, and execution for US-based institutional investors, with real-time processing (versus the traditional batch processing), automation, and integration of data.  

“Today our platform supports US equities and options, but the goal is to be a single-source-of-truth that supports any asset class, any geography, for anyone,” chief operating officer Andy Volz told Insights Distilled.  

While the company declined to name specific customers, it said that its prime clearing platform currently processes about $10 billion in daily notional trading value, or about 2.5% of the US equities volume.  

Quick Bits:

Personnel news: BNP Paribas appointed José Placido as chief executive officer of its US operations, Citizens Financial Group poached Richard Stein from Fifth Third to be its new chief risk officer once Malcolm Griggs retires next year, and HSBC’s US unit is hiring four Silicon Valley Bank vets – David Sabow, Sunita Patel, Katherine Andersen, Melissa Stepanisto beef up its focus on startups, tech, and healthcare and allow it to connect to “the innovation ecosystem” and support companies at “every phase of growth.”  

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo announced two promotions for its tech execs: Head of technology Saul Van Beurden will become CEO of consumer and small business banking, and head of consumer technology Tracy Kerrins will take his place as head of technology.  

Money moves: Market intelligence and search platform AlphaSense added $100 million to its Series D funding round, which includes Alphabet’s growth fund, Capital G, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, and Viking Global investors.

Industry happenings: Apple just introduced a high-yield savings account with Goldman Sachs with a 4.15% annual yield – which is much higher than that of most traditional players, and aligned with upstarts like Fierce and Vio Bank.  

Partnership power: Insights Distilled tapped our network to bring you an exclusive report on building successful partnerships between FinServs and ScaleUps.



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