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Wall Street Is Taking Cues From Silicon Valley to Innovate Fintech

WALL STREET VS. SILICON VALLEY: WHERE WILL INNOVATION COME FROM? A common criticism of big banks is that they can’t innovate as fast as smaller, more nimble startups—and yet they have far more capital to invest in tech. A discussion between a “unicorn” founder who counts top banks as clients, a Wall Streeter tasked with transformation, and the head of the personal finance startup so hot that Goldman Sachs bought it.Adam Dell, Head of Product, Marcus by Goldman Sachs; Founder and CEO, Clarity MoneyZach Perret, Co-founder and CEO, PlaidSigal Zarmi, Managing Director and Head, Technology Transformation, Morgan StanleyModerator: Matt Heimer, FORTUNE Photography by Rebecca Greenfield/FortuneWALL STREET VS. SILICON VALLEY: WHERE WILL INNOVATION COME FROM? A common criticism of big banks is that they can’t innovate as fast as smaller, more nimble startups—and yet they have far more capital to invest in tech. A discussion between a “unicorn” founder who counts top banks as clients, a Wall Streeter tasked with transformation, and the head of the personal finance startup so hot that Goldman Sachs bought it.Adam Dell, Head of Product, Marcus by Goldman Sachs; Founder and CEO, Clarity MoneyZach Perret, Co-founder and CEO, PlaidSigal Zarmi, Managing Director and Head, Technology Transformation, Morgan StanleyModerator: Matt Heimer, FORTUNE Photography by Rebecca Greenfield/Fortune
Adam Dell, Head of Product, Marcus by Goldman Sachs; Founder and CEO, Clarity Money Zach Perret, Co-founder and CEO, Plaid Sigal Zarmi, Managing Director and Head, Technology Transformation, Morgan Stanley Moderator: Matt Heimer, FORTUNE Photography by Rebecca Greenfield for Fortune

Despite a slew of mobile apps designed to help us budget better, it still wouldn’t be considered shocking to bring “a shoebox full of documents” to apply for a mortgage. That’s according to fintech startup Plaid CEO Zach Perret, who spoke at Fortune’s inaugural Brainstorm Finance event in Montauk, N.Y., on Thursday.

A Silicon Valley startup like Plaid would be expected to work on solutions to this antiquated behavior, but some of the bigger and more traditional banks in the world are working to innovate financial services as well. Joining Perret on stage at the conference were a couple of representatives from Wall Street: Sigal Zarmi, managing Director and head of transformation at Morgan Stanley, and Adam Dell, head of product at Marcus by Goldman Sachs, an online bank for consumers.

“I really believe that Goldman Sachs is uniquely positioned to push the industry forward in the same way that retail has been transformed by Amazon, Uber has transformed transportation, Apple’s transformed music,” Dell said. One proponent of this push is Marcus’ acquisition last year of Clarity Money, an app that using artificial intelligence and machine learning to create personalized finance tools.

Meanwhile, Zarmi from Morgan Stanley says the company is looking at more than a 1,000 startups a year for potential partnerships. “We are evaluating the product. We are giving them advice on the roadmap, how do we see the roadmap fitting within our environment?” she explains. “Asking questions, learning from them.” A recent example she mentions is Zoom, a video conferencing company. “We think that technology can really change the way we interact with our customers and clients.”

Perret’s Plaid wants to be in the middle of it. His says the company has integrated with over 15,000 banks working on backend development on apps and related tools. “We have a unifying theory: Make money easier for everyone,” he says. “We believe in giving consumers more access to products, tools, choices.”

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