Yves is Flinks' Content Strategist. He tells the world about the dramatic changes happening in finance, one story at a time.

Expanding With Investments is Our Stepping Stone to a Financial Data Network

By Yves Lavoie on October 8th, 2020

Back in July we published a set of goals to achieve following our Series A round — and today, we’re taking a significant step forward by launching Investments, which gives wealth management firms and apps a radically better way to access investment data.

We sat down with Flinks’ CRO Clayton Feick to unpack the idea that expanding into new geographies and types of financial data is all part of building a financial data network that will benefit all stakeholders.

Maybe it makes sense to start from the very beginning: what’s the origin story of Investments?

Ever since I came to Flinks, I’ve been obsessed with the question of how we can help our customers generate more value from financial data.

The obvious answer is that providing data and making it more insightful drive the digital transformation of finance. Financial data enables businesses to build and run better products for their customers.

We’ve seen that happening at all levels of the retail banking industry. And we want to bring this opportunity to other sectors as well.

Okay, so that’s how we came up with the idea of adding a whole new type of financial data.

Exactly.

Wealth and investment management is such a key part of consumers’ financial wellness. Up until now, wealth professionals and apps like robo-advisors just didn’t have the right kind of data connectivity tools they needed to transform their customer experience. Now, our clients can access a customer’s stock portfolio, trades, asset allocation and wealth analytics to drive a modern wealth management experience.

But here’s the really exciting thing: the benefits of connecting to a new type of data extends to all sectors of finance.

Financial businesses in any space can now allow their customers to connect and transfer data from their investment accounts. We’ve started to talk about this as building a financial data network.

“Financial data network” — that’s definitely something we hear thrown around. What does it actually mean?

Other financial data providers have their own notions of who should benefit from their network. We’re seeing this happening at an increasing pace with data sharing agreements that lack transparency and limit the rights of consumers.

In our minds, the network delivers value by doing three things:

First and foremost, it puts consumers in control of their data.

Our network gives them the power to direct their financial information to be shared with a trusted third party of their choosing, based on consent. Already today, and even more so tomorrow, consumers gain tremendous value as they exchange access to their data for better, more affordable and more convenient products.

Expanding our network beyond retail banking information simply gives them more of that power.

It enables service providers to develop digital products and build bigger businesses.

Our vision goes way beyond providing a network of “dumb pipes.” With a single standard to transfer, structure and enrich data, we make it way easier and faster for companies of all sizes to utilize any type of financial information they need to provide value to their customers.

When often say Flinks empowers its clients, and what we mean is this: we enable them to break past their current suite of services and build innovative business models.

It supports a financial ecosystem that benefits all stakeholders.

The common view of open banking goes like this: service providers access data from financial institutions, and in return they’re able to deliver the products their customers want. Both find value in the exchange, it’s a win-win.

But if you’re the financial institution supplying that data, you’re left out of the equation.

We think this is a problem, and the network allows us to frame things differently: it doesn’t just break walls for individual companies, it creates a space for new relationships.

Like, are we talking partnerships and service hubs?

That’s exactly right. A financial data network provides the key infrastructure a financial institution needs to integrate a customer or third party application. It enables banks to sidestep the “build or buy” dilemma and go directly into orchestrating the rich, diverse digital experience their clients want.

Okay then, now that retail banking and investment data are connected — what’s next for the network?

We’re seeing huge momentum, and data connectivity is increasingly becoming the standard way consumers direct their financial information to the businesses that need it. Big, world-class financial service providers like TransferWise, WealthSimple and the world’s largest banks and payment providers are now using Flinks to connect their customers with the services they want.

But this is just the beginning.

We want our network to grow and evolve to meet the needs of consumers, the financial service providers they use, and the institutions that hold their data.

New types of data? We’re working on it. Business and mortgage lenders are eager to start utilizing wealth data — that’s a natural expansion of the network, outside of the wealth management industry. Enabling cross-border connections? You bet! We now have retail banking data and analytics in the US, with more countries to follow. Data enrichment on all types of data? Of course. This is the end goal to drive insights for our clients.

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