Few things in life are as exhilarating as making a course change in one’s career. And so I’m very excited to be introducing myself to you as the new editor at Wealthfront. Excited and just a little bit intimidated all rolled into one.
I’m excited about being involved with the mission of providing clients with the best investment management available — and at a reasonable cost. I’m a wee bit intimidated by the room full of talented engineers that surround me (and those folks make up two-thirds of our staff!).
Wealthfront is just the latest significant pivot in my nomadic journalism career. While all my positions have been within the editorial realm I have found myself covering a fairly different patch of territory each time.
First were a few years as a medical editor, then some time freelancing on various subjects, followed by a long stint with PC Magazine. Then, six years ago came my introduction to the world of financial services, a sliver of it anyway.
InvestmentNews, a New York-based news organization serving financial advisers, had recruited me as technology reporter. I suddenly found myself trying to both understand and cover the very specialized and often not-so-intuitive applications and software used by advisers.
In fact I was frequently shocked at the age of their systems and how backwards the evolution of their technology had been. Simply put, the timing was totally off when it came to the intersection of technology and the beginnings of the human financial advice business. Back when the independent advice business got off the ground in the late 80s and early 90s it was still the age of the unwieldy mainframe and the PC revolution was still in puberty.
On the other hand, fast-forward to today and the timing for Wealthfront is perfectly aligned. From cloud-based technologies, to visualization, to databases, modular programming and easy scalability, you name it, the technologies are today nimble enough that, for even a small group of talented, motivated engineers the sky is the limit.
Rewinding to six years ago, while the state of adviser technology was bad enough what really shocked me was the full realization that all those dispensing financial advice or selling financial products were not required to be fiduciaries (meaning legally bound to always act in the best interests of the client).
I wanted to write as much for the tiny minority of advisers serving the 99% of folks in the mass market. Too many of my adviser audience often fought over landing only high net worth clients.
So a quiet passion that developed during my tenure at InvestmentNews was writing about new technology-based providers in the financial services realm intent on benefitting the masses.
As a technology journalist I had lived through the initial promise and then bust of the tech bubble in the early 2000s. I knew though that all the real-time web technologies that were in development five or so years ago could prove a boon to the growth and scalability of all sorts yet undreamed of startups.
What, I wondered, would it all mean for the fairly narrow world of financial advice and investing?
And now I’ve arrived at Wealthfront to find out and go along for the ride.
The extremely capable and creative Elizabeth MacBride has been at the helm overseeing all the firm’s editorial efforts the last three years. She has decided to take on some new challenges, including writing a book, though chances are good you will yet see her byline on various projects here in the future.
Moving forward you are going to be hearing of amazing things from our engineering team, things that many in the human advisory business throw up their hands at for now as being impractical to tackle.
Everything here at Wealthfront is data driven. And the engineers are always innovating and improving the platform. From the user interface to the initial risk questionnaire clients complete to the core, complex, behind-the-scenes technologies the client never sees.
And on that note the roadmap of new features and projects underway at Wealthfront is full as is our growing roster of investing luminaries and other experts, so you can continue to expect a bevy of highly useful, actionable and thought-provoking content to come your way.
These are some very smart folks dedicated to doing what not even the Goliaths of the financial services world have tackled. That is, to provide a very sophisticated set of features that are as automated as today’s technology will allow.
I’m proud to be here.