2016 Innovators to Watch: 21 to 25

21. Chris Tremont, EVP Virtual Banking, Radius Bank

tremontBanks are not usually known for their disruptive nature and quick decisioning. Radius Bank is known just for that. In the past three years, this community bank has shut down all of its branches except for one in Boston, transforming into a digital-first financial institution. In addition to disrupting itself, the bank has established partnerships with disruptors in the space, including a mobile payments platform LevelUp, digital investment firm Aspiration, and most recently, student debt repayment platform Gradifi. Credit is due to Chris Tremont for many of these accomplishments.

Prior to undertaking the newly-created EVP of virtual banking role in 2015, Tremont spent seven years at the bank, overseeing development initiatives such as mobile banking, website redesign, the launch of a mobile payments and rewards app, as well as partnerships with startups. In short, when it comes to innovation and tech at Radius, all eyes are on Chris Tremont.

22. Jane Barratt, CEO, GoldBean

BarratWealth management can be a challenge for even those with great financial sophistication. It is even more so for those who are less sophisticated or new to financial services. That’s an obstacle GoldBean and its founder, Jane Barratt, is taking on head on. GoldBean arguably is leading the leading startup aiming to bridge wealth management education and its practice.

(GoldBean is a portfolio company in the Bank Innovation INV accelerator. I advise GoldBean on its endeavors as part of the accelerator’s activities.)

There’s a deep passion in Barratt, as there is a profound effort. You get the sense that failure is not just not an option, but not in the cards. Part of the reason why that is the case is because GoldBean is attacking the challenge of making wealth management manageable for a broader swatch of consumers by attacking multiple aspects of it, from devising a bootcamp to facilitating engagement with users of its platform prior to even a single investment being made to crafting a meaningful and management investment strategy for newbies, along with the requisite ability to execute in it. It can be argued that wealth management doesn’t work without education, and that’s why GoldBean — and Barratt — deserve to be on everyone’s fintech watch list.

23. Jake Fuentes, Head of New Consumer Products, Capital One

fuentesLevel Money — founded by Jake Fuentes in 2012 — solved a problem banks had been wrestling with years — making personal financial management (PFM) not suck. Level Money’s first app launched October 2013, and was snapped up by Capital One in January 2015. By this time it had 700,000 customers, most of them millennials, famously averse to budgeting and categorizing their spending (yawn). Level Money did it for them, and millennials love Fuentes for it. Last year Fuentes predicted 2016 would be the year of robo-advisors, and he has been proven emphatically right.

Level Money’s painless PFM conveniently makes a handy onramp into investing. As head of new products for consumer banking at Capital One, Fuentes has helped guide the bank into a leadership position in the hybrid robo space, in which humans play a supporting role to the software. This aligns with what millennials say they want in survey after survey — and knowing what millennials want is Fuentes’s specialty.

24. Liran Amrany, Co-Founder, Debitize

Liran AmranyMillennials don’t trust credit cards, so we choose to rely on our debit cards. The problem is, without credit cards, it’s hard to build a credit score, and without a credit score… Liran Amrany came up with a solution. He launched Debitize in 2014. It’s  a personal finance tool that makes it easy to use credit cards responsibly: “We let you use your credit card with the discipline and convenience of a debit card,” according to Amrany.

He founded the company to help simplify, automate, and optimize personal finances. Here’s how it works: when a user makes a purchase with a credit card, Debitize charges the user’s checking account and stores the funds in a Debitize reserve account. At the end of the month, Debitize automatically pays off the credit card bill. Millennials can, therefore, build credit and get rewards while still using “debit cards.” Prior to Debitize, Amrany spent nine years at JPMorgan Chase, most recently as an executive director, managing the trade process from start to finish.

25. Hari Gopalkrishnan, client-facing platforms technology CIO, Bank of America

hariLehman Brothers, before its sudden and spectacular collapse, was known for its innovative IT setup. With a $1 billion budget and serving a global team of 25,000, Lehman’s IT group was was the envy of the industry, and was run by a wunderkind named Hari Gopalkrishnan, now the CIO of client-facing technology for the nation’s second-largest bank. Perhaps because of his history, Gopalkrishnan sees things a bit differently than his colleagues and competitors. Under his guidance, Bank of America is not chasing the same mobile payments dream as Chase and Wells Fargo. Instead of “BofA Pay” he chose an open wallet platform, maximizing consumer choice. His bank was also one of the very first to join the ClearXChange realtime payments network. Gopalkrishnan is also closely tracking how his customers use mobile, what they want, and what they expect. Customers no longer look at mobile apps to see what they can do, he told Bank Innovation recently. “Now it’s surprising if digital can’t do what you want to do,” he said. But mobile adoption, growing as it is by leaps and bounds, may not be an unambiguously good thing. Sure, it delivers cost-savings for the bank, but is it making us ruder? More anxious? Gopalkrishnan and his team have shown fearlessness and enviable desire to keep learning in choosing to face these questions.

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