An EMERGE Conference Interview with Brian Costello
By Elizabeth Vivirito, Financial Health Network
Brian Costello is the Chief Information Security Officer at Envestnet. Brian is helping Envestnet | Yodlee create a more financially informed generation and ultimately a stronger global economy by supporting the consumers’ right to access financial solutions that allow them to improve their financial well-being.
What are the three most important issues people working in financial services should address over the next five years to make a difference in consumers’ lives?
That’s a great question — I think there are three trends that people in our industry can turn into consumer benefit. The first is new technology and innovation, by which I mean leveraging innovations in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Data intelligence is the next big innovation facing every industry, especially financial technology.
The second trend is data curation — simplifying and personalizing the user experience. Provide insights and recommendations for the customer, moving from product-based banking to objective-based banking leads to consumer access to data.
The third trend is consumer access to data. Enabling consumer success and outcomes will not happen unless consumers have access to their data. The headwind we need is for our entire industry to embrace this perspective fully. We have an obligation to provide consumers with the tools and information to help them improve their financial lives, and unfettered access to their financial data is a critical element in achieving that goal.
What do you think is the most pressing financial challenge for today’s consumer or entrepreneur?
One key issue not talked about is how financial wellness affects consumers at all levels of age and wealth.
I’ll point to recent statistics proclaiming alarming findings about the financial well-being of US consumers. These statistics are staggering and represent a real cry for help that financial institutions should be ready to answer.
- An alarming 57% of American adults are struggling financially.
- 7 out of 10 American workers state that financial stress is their most common cause of stress.
- 47% of Americans are unable to come up with $400 for an emergency and 60% of American households have less than 3 months of savings on hand.
- 58% of Americans don’t have enough liquid savings to replace just one month’s worth of income.
- Saving money is still a struggle for many Americans as 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.
These issues are not specific to just one subset of the US population. For baby boomers, for example, financial stress is one more concern in addition to the new challenges brought on by age and retirement. Consumers are not seeking the right types of financial help to determine how healthy they are financially.
As you consider the value of conferences in your partnership strategy, what advice would you give to drive readers?
Attend conferences that both open your mind to new ways of thinking and create networking opportunities to partner. A conference like Financial Health Network’s EMERGE allows you to meet like-minded people that are seriously investing in consumer well-being. As more and more companies are developing deep expertise across the various segments and technologies, it is critical to create an ecosystem of partnerships to meet consumer needs.