Finovate 2013: Our take on the Best of Show winners

By Steven Ramirez

Most innovative companies in FinTech from the Finovate Fall 2013 conference

William Mills and I blogged about the companies we saw at the 2013 Finovate show that wrapped this week in New York. While you may want to peruse our thoughts on the two-day conference that featured 69 companies, here are our comments on the winners of the Best of Show award.


Phil Gray (EVP Business Development) and Dan Fox (Marketing Director)

Natural language processing for customer support applications. Customer authenticates using voice print. Automated agent responds to customer inquiries. The customer experience of talking to a computer, no matter how smart, is going to be an obstacle. The concept is great, but talking to a computer makes me feel like the bank doesn’t want to take the time to talk to me. In the demo, the scenario is a fraudulent charge. From a customer perspective, this can be a very emotional event.

The NLP processing seems very good, responsive. The voice is very “computer sounding.” Hal? Hal, are you there? This seems to be like Siri for your bank’s customer contact center.

Interactions emphasizes the accuracy and reliability of their systems.^SR

Virtual self service solution. I believe it is an automated platform that integrates IVR with mobile. They are showing how someone can call and report a charge that was a fraud. From what I can tell it is a super intelligent IVR that is really good with speech recognition.

The demo is going great, when I call an IVR the speech recognition is terrible. In summary, this is a SIRI-type solution for self service. It’s an incredible demo if it works as well in real life.

It looks like FI is one of six markets they target. ^WM



Alexa von Tobel (Founder & CEO) and Karim Naraghi (VP Business Development)

Subscription pricing for access to a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).  7 simple steps to financial planning. Dashboards and reports are simple, easy to absorb. “Conflict-free advice.”

They built their own personal financial planning platform. Ongoing evolution of your financial plan, as your needs change. New product: LearnVest at work for 401k plans.  ^SR



Michal Panowicz (Managing Director, New mBank Project) and Maciej Jopyk (Senior Manager, Accenture)

Transform your online banking platform, using mBank’s product currently used by 4.5 million customers. Proactive advice tailored to your account circumstances.  For example, real-time CRM allows bank to offer you a quick cash loan, instead of hitting an overdraft fee.

Full online branch with advice provided online, via video chat.  Relationship has a rewards program as well.

This is an alternative to the traditional bank branch.  Very interesting idea. Again, how do I reconcile the security concerns?  Will consumers place their trust in online chat?  Who’s on the other end of the line?  ^SR



We don’t have commentary from Finovate, but you can learn more about them from their online video.  Watch the video here


Money Desktop

New innovations at Money Desktop: check images, easier categorization. Also makes it easier for users to manage budgets. Some users want to see spending over time – nice data visualization. Makes it easy for users to track spending. Really like how it allows user to prioritize goals. Takes a lifecycle approach: view goals over time, major life events. A nice timeline feature, almost like Facebook, see the major milestones of the past. You can also scroll forward to see upcoming goals.  Partners can now push data to the MD platform, with enhanced classification. MD being used by Moven Bank. Sign up for the new beta.  ^SR

Full disclosure, William Mills Agency is the public relations of record for MoneyDesktop.
I’ve been to about 10 Finovate events and these folks have always impressed not only me but a LOT of other folks here as they have one “Best of Show” a number of times. MoneyDesktop is debuting a new spending interface. It’s very cool; very, very graphical with easy to understand graphics.  Showing money management goals in the platform. Ryan is showing “GuideMe” with goals for the short and long-term with a “road map” on a tablet-based application which is new. This is the first time I’ve seen this. Now showing a way for others to push transaction data to MoneyDesktop for more real-time data.  ^ WM


Motif Investing

First presenter takes the stage: Motif Investing represented by Hardeep Walia (Co-Founder & CEO) and Ramak Fazeli (Financial Advisor).  Investors: invest in ideas, not individual stocks. Billed as an “ETF killer.” A new take on mutual funds, with crowdsourcing to drive new ideas. Product is in beta now, going live in October. Platform for advisors also coming this Fall. Benefit to cconsumer: possibility of fee-free 401k or 529 plan.  ^SR

Motif Investing – Hardeep Walia (Co-Founder & CEO)  ”An ETF killer” I’m having a tough time figuring this out exactly. It’s online trading but they provide “Motifs”, 15,000 have been created so far, I’m assuming from users of the system.  OK, so if you create a “Motif” for trading and if someone wants to use it you get paid a royalty. You can share via Facebook and Twitter as well.

One of the things about Finovate Fall NYC is that you see a lot more securities tech organizations than you do in San Francisco.  ^WM



Gilad Gat (Co-Founder & CTO) and Tomer Turgeman (VP Business Development)

I saw these folks at Finovate before, here’s what I wrote then: Today’s sessions seem to have a more financial planning, investing products and services. Their services lets consumers see how well analysts are doing. Their is example said that 86.5% of wrong 50.2% of the time. It let’s users to really see which analysts are most successful. “We are a tech company, we can’t tell you what stocks to buy or sell. We can tell you which experts are doing the best.”  From their site: TipRanks is a free application that allows you to instantly see the track record and measured performance of any analyst you come across.

What I’m looking for is what is new at TipRanks this time.  Now showing an example of a recommendation on OpenTable shares. “We are a tech company. We show you what the best performing experts say about the stock: Buy, Sell, Hold.  Like I wrote last time, how does TipRanks make money? Today they are launching a new API which I assume enables folks to integrate easier.  ^WM



Anil Arora (President & CEO) and Katy Gibson (VP Applications)

Anil has a great reputation. I think this is the first time I’ve seen him lead a demo of Yodlee.  Yodlee is kind of the “grandfather” of this industry; they have been around since before the “dot com” days.  I understand their technology is behind many of the online/mobile financial applications you see at Finovate.

Demonstrating “Tandem” which helps consumers with their money. While it’s on an Apple device, the icons actually look like something from a Microsoft Smart Phone. Now Katy is showing “financial circles” showing example of sharing and acting on financial information with other family members, such as paying for her son’s college education with her ex-husband as well as a “financial circle” with siblings to pay for her parent’s bills and other financial needs. It’s an interesting GUI, kind of like Microsoft and Google Circles on an Apple IOS device. Now showing TANDEM in a business loan scenario.  Banks can use to “white label” products and services.  ^WM


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Steven J. Ramirez is CEO of Beyond the Arc, Inc., a management consulting firm that combines strategy consulting with advanced analytics to help financial services clients identify opportunities to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. The company’s social media data mining helps clients improve their customer experience across products, channels, and touch points. Follow us on twitter @beyondthearc or email us at

William Mills III, Chief Executive Officer of William Mills Agency, has more than 30 years of experience in financial technology and is a recognized leader in financial and technology marketing. William has personally advised more than 300 chief executives on marketing strategy, business development, mergers and acquisitions, company branding and public relations. You can contact him via email at or by twitter @williamemills.


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