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

February 28

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 delves into the different ways that banks are threading the needle: Between catching fraudsters and offering seamless customer experiences. Between digital interfaces and human-to-human connection. Between compliance risk and cutting-edge technology. 

“Banks are extremely allergic to risks (as they should be),” a principal at tech consultancy Capco told Insights Distilled for our story on ChatGPT. Still, they need to find a way to “encourage innovation while also prioritizing data privacy and security.”   

Let’s dive in:

  1. Big banks ban ChatGPT: Experts weigh in on the benefits and risks
  2. Tech-enabled estate planning: Why big FinServs are funding startup Trust & Will
  3. Advising, made easier: Wells Fargo brings financial advisors closer to clients
  4. Software sea change: Discover spotlights open source to draw top talent
  5. AML innovation: How Mizuho is bringing AI to its fraud-prevention efforts

Big banks are banning employees from using ChatGPT at work. Experts say the move makes sense but could have unintended consequences. 

ChatGPT – the AI-powered tool that can respond to prompts and queries in a human-like way – puts data privacy, security, and control at risk for big FinServs, experts tell us. While banning employees from using the tool may provide protection in the short term, banks need to progress their overall AI strategies to integrate its potential, too, they add.

JPMorgan, Citi, Goldman Sachs, and other big financial institutions have restricted employees from using ChatGPT at work, and two experts at tech consultancy Capco tell Insights Distilled that the move provides both benefits and risks.  

ChatGPT threatens data privacy and security, according to R&D lead Ryan Favro, and its algorithmic decision-making also “raises questions about accountability and control.”  

Plus, there are copyright concerns, adds technology delivery principal Luke Penca, and employers may be worried that workers will use the tool to cut corners and become disengaged from their responsibilities.  

Still, banning ChatGPT outright could lead to missed opportunities and frustration among employees (which could lead to riskier workarounds). 

“An immediate drawback to the ‘burn it with fire’ mentality about a technology we barely understand is that our risk adverseness will impede that understanding and stall the arrival of potential benefits to utility and productivity that these tools may hold,” Penca said.  

Similarly, Favro cautions that banks should avoid “unintended consequences” of a ban by considering how ChatGPT could fit into their larger AI strategy and ideating on approaches that “balance risk management with innovation” by protecting data privacy and security.  

For example, Swedish investment firm EQT is using ChatGPT internally to help its deal makers query a giant, proprietary data platform without relying on data scientists. 


A platform for estate planning just raised money from Amex, Northwestern Mutual, and USAA.  

Writing your will isn’t typically an easy, cheap, or uplifting exercise, which could be why more than two-thirds of Americans have no estate plan. A handful of big FinServs are strategically funding a startup that wants to change that by making estate planning a more accessible aspect of financial management.

With the “great wealth transfer” upon us, there’s an increased need for simple, affordable estate planning.  

Accordingly, startup Trust & Will has wooed a whole host of financial services firms in its latest funding round. All told, the startup has raised $48 million from investors including Amex Ventures, Fifth Third Capital Holdings, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, AARP, UBS Next, and USAA. 

“Estate planning is an essential pillar of sound consumer financial wellness,” according to Amex Venture’s Margaret Lim. “Yet today, the process is complex, antiquated, and expensive.” 

That’s where Trust & Will comes in: It provides an easy and fast way to build and settle estate plans online.  

In addition to connecting with people directly, the firm has partnered with a handful of banks and credit unions to offer its services to their customers and Lim told TechCrunch that Amex is exploring ways to deepen its relationship with Trust & Will beyond its funding.   


Wells Fargo’s new wealth management tools combine in-app convenience with the human touch.  

Wells Fargo wants to boost engagement between its financial advisors and clients, in more convenient ways, to foster connection and loyalty.

Wells Fargo wants its wealth management clients and their advisors to stay more closely connected. 

The bank is rolling out LifeSync, a digital platform that lets users create and track financial goals while notifying advisors of changes and making it easy to interact or schedule conversations.  

“It gives clients a real-time platform to share information about what’s on their mind and send that to their advisor in-between more traditional monthly, quarterly or annual review meetings,” Michael Liersch, head of advice and planning for Wells Fargo wealth management, told Insights Distilled

For example, the app aggregates information so that people can track their portfolios, net worth, credit card reward balances, relevant news and content, and specific savings goals in a “hyper-personalized” way (including uploading personal photos tied to their aspirations). Advisors get pinged on updates and this additional “listening post” allows them to weigh in or update plans more dynamically.  

Ultimately, Wells Fargo wants LifeSync to increase client satisfaction, trust, and loyalty. Deposit growth would be helpful, too: It has 12,027 financial advisors assisting 2.6 million wealth management clients with $1.9 billion in assets, as of its last earnings report, but its total pot of clients assets has been stagnant since the end of 2019.  

LifeSync’s launch aligns with a similar trend around the shift away from robo-advising to a “true hybrid advice model” from likes of Truist, JPMorgan, and Ally Financial, where automated portfolio management is paired with phone or video consultations with advisors.


Discover just launched a new website and announced two open source partnerships in a bid to attract talent and deliver better products, faster.  

Open source software can bring a variety of benefits to financial institutions, including increased engineering speed and improved code quality, while helping attract tech workers. Discover expects its new site and partnerships to help it stand out in the space.

Discover just launched a new website dedicated to open source software development and building community in tech.  

“Like all organizations, we use a huge amount of open source in our products,” Discover’s VP of technology capabilities and innovation, Angel Diaz, told Insights Distilled. “It allows our technology folks to express themselves, to build on their skills, to partner with others, and to improve the technology that we use.” 

The public-facing Discover Technology Experience website is meant for knowledge sharing and inspiration and coincides with the firm joining the Linux Foundation and the Fintech Open Source Foundation (FINOS), and committing to sending its engineers to more than 50 events and meetups around the world this year.  

All these actions play into Discover’s plan to recruit and retain tech workers, who view open source contributions as a way to make an industry-wide impact, build community, and earn cachet. 

“You cannot hire a great engineer who doesn’t want to be learning and collaborating: If you’re not giving them an outlet to do that, you’re not going to be able to retain talent,” Diaz said. The site provides the “connective tissue” for “creating better conversations across the workforce,” he added, and will also help attract people to the firm.  

Generally, open source software continues to gain steam among big FinServs: A survey from FINOS late last year found that 20 financial institutions rolled out Open Source Program Offices in 2022 and that 56% of respondents said they got more value from open source last year than in the year before. 


Mizuho’s investment banking arm just started working with an AI startup to battle money laundering. 

Artificial intelligence can inject efficiency and increased success into outdated and shockingly ineffective know-your-customer and anti-money laundering processes. 

Mizuho International just picked a new partner to help it fight back against financial crime.  

The investment bank aims to improve its anti-money laundering efforts by working with SymphonyAI’s Sensa platform, which tracks changes in customer behavior, identifies risk hotspots, and flags fishy activity.  

Mizuho believes the platform will allow its financial crime team to “be empowered and more effective,” according to chief compliance officer for EMEA, Dinesh Joshi. For example, analysts can complete its risk review process in minutes, even for highly complex cases. 

SymphonyAI says its tools improve risk discovery and decrease false positives by more than 60%, which can save clients time and money. For example, it cites its platform as generating a 200% rise in risk discovery and a 500% increase in operational productivity, with $6 million in annual savings from recovered fraud dollars.  

Thanks to AI’s specialty in pattern matching and anomaly detection, a swathe of startups has emerged that use machine learning to fight fraud – including Chekk and Insight Partner’s portfolio company FeatureSpace. SymphonyAI’s Sensa also counts Citi among its customers.  

Quick Bits:

Personnel news: Cross River Bank exec Phil Goldfeder will become the new CEO of the American Fintech Council, a trade group with members like LendingClub, SoFi, and Affirm; Citigroup hired former ByteDance and Amazon exec Davide Russo to join its European technology dealmaking team; and anti-poverty organization Robin Hood just snagged Goldman global head of sustainability, Dina Powell, and Blackstone CFO, Michael Chae, for its board. 

In international news, US President Biden has nominated former Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga to lead the World Bank. 

Money moves: Deutsche Bank invested in Australian payments processing firm DataMesh and MassMutual Ventures invested in compliance automation startup Scrut.  

Regulatory recap: During a speech in Singapore, the head of the Bank for International Settlements pitched central banks on a single digital record-keeping system that would make worldwide payments cheaper and more efficient.  

Meanwhile, months after the SEC hammered the likes of JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America with a combined $2 billion in fines for failing to properly monitor employee messaging through channels like WhatsApp, a slew of additional banks including Wells Fargo, HSBC, and SocGen have flagged investigations into their communications record-keeping, too.  

SteelEye, Nice Actimize, and Movius all monitor communication, with the latter just picking up fresh funding from T-Mobile Ventures. Movius CEO Anantha Siva told Insights Distilled that the firm’s multi-line product has seen “tremendous growth” from global tier-one banks over the last 12 months, as well as from brokerage firms of all sizes.  

Executive advice: Insights Distilled checked in with former Morgan Stanley technology chief Rob Rooney,who became CEO of budgeting app HyperJar last month. Rooney told us that he’s known HyperJar’s founders since they all worked together at MS, and that he was drawn to join the team because of its mission to “help real people spend life well” and have an impact on their financial well-being by “eliminating most of the pain points [they] suffer on the spending journey.”  

He also reflected on how his time at Morgan Stanley will influence how he leads the startup: 

“The key to success in all the roles I had at MS was to build a world class culture that prioritizes teamwork, entrepreneurialism, execution, resilience and personal wellbeing,” he said. “It is not easy to do all these well at the same time and most organizations do some better than others. Real success happens when they are all mastered. Doing this requires relentless focus on talent and letting it shine.” 


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