(Editor’s note: This article was adapted from Human Capital, Melanie Waddell’s newsletter on the people shaping the financial regulatory landscape.)
Data portability rights are in the news — and no, I’m not talking about Facebook — as the Dodd-Frank deregulatory push continues.
President Donald Trump gave a thumbs-up late last week to the Senate-passed Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, which curbs Dodd-Frank, stating the bill “should be done fairly quickly” in the House. I caught up with digital financial services veteran Rob Foregger, who was in Washington recently chatting with Securities and Exchange Commission officials about — you guessed it — the fiduciary rulemaking, and who also made trips to the Hill and White House for conversations about financial data portability.
Rob Foregger co-founded several digital advice firms, most recently NextCapital as well as Personal Capital, the nation’s first electronic advisor. In prior roles, he was president of Fidelity Investments Personal Trust Company and senior vice president of banking services. He co-founded and was COO of EverBank.com, one of the nation’s leading online banks (which was recently acquired by TIAA.)
He calls NextCapital “an enterprise digital advice company” that “enables very large financial services companies to deliver automated, personalized financial planning as well as portfolio management at scale,” which specializes in the retirement lifecycle.
As Foregger sees it, NextCapital’s business “is all about democratizing fiduciary-level advice, which is essentially being able to allow our partners to be able to deliver world-class financial advice to more and more consumers. That’s what our software does.”
Section 1033 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which supports data portability as a consumer right, has been spared in the regulatory redo of Dodd-Frank. Foregger and other fintech-firm members of the Consumer Financial Data Rights Group sat down last week with lawmakers, National Economic Council members, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Reserve to make sure it stays that way.
CFDR’s rallying cry: Consumers must retain the unimpeded ability to transfer their “financial data, or import their financial data, to other financial professionals or other financial services,” Foregger explained.
More financial institutions “are contemplating turning off consumers’ ability to access their data or, at a minimum, [making] it harder for firms that do account aggregation to be able to access that data.”
That said, “there’s also very strong agreement that the data aggregators and people that are managing this client data need to be held to very high standards as it relates to table stakes.”
The Trump administration “is very in tune with industry innovation and being competitive, so we wanted to explain how important data portability is to the fintech ecosystem, which is a massive job producer in the United States and is critical to our long-term competitiveness, our financial services industry competiveness in the global marketplace,” Foregger said.
Data portability is also “really important,” Foregger continued, because the future of the financial services industry is “moving away from product manufacturing to advice manufacturing; part of that is making sure that we can gather information on a [consumer] in a low-cost manner to be able to provide the [consumer] with more personalized financial solutions — whether that’s credit recommendations or financial planning and advice.”
CFPR’s position is also that the fiduciary standards (issued by the SEC, states and CFP Board) “will create more regulatory efficiency [rather] than more burden” and also create clarity to help drive future innovation.
The data portability issue “may seem arcane,” but it’s “quite critical to what the future state of the financial services industry looks like.”
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