August 11, 2020

One benefit of my work is that I get to spend time with the innovators who are reshaping regulatory agencies all over the world. I have my favorites, and one of those is today’s guest. He is Haime Workie, who leads the innovation team at FINRA.

For listeners outside the US, FINRA is the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a self-regulatory body that oversees the broker-dealer industry in conjunction with the Securities and Exchange Commission. I have the pleasure of serving on FINRA’s FinTech Advisory Committee, which has been an invaluable learning experience for me.

FINRA’s Office of innovation was formally started last year, building on very extensive earlier work. It explores how technology is changing broker-dealers and how FINRA should respond to both new opportunities and risks, in order to assure investor protection and market integrity.

Other regulators will be interested to hear Haime describe how his office is structured, the size and skills of the staff, and how it interrelates with the larger organization. He describes the committee I serve on -- its membership profile and how FINRA puts it to use. He also explains how the innovation work feeds into new procedures, training, and investor education.

Haime’s office puts out white papers, which we’ll link to below, and I want to call your attention to a new one on how broker dealers are using AI today -- it is a fascinating read. Our conversation also explores some of the cutting edge innovations in the market, including fractional share investment and digital assets.

FINRA has a tradition of running “buildathons,” which are like hackathons or regulatory tech sprints. As regular listeners know, I’m a strong advocate for regulators adapting these kinds of innovations from the tech world, to accelerate their own learning and problem-solving. Haime tells us about the one they ran last year with MIT students, focusing on financial inclusion and investor protection.  (Haime himself is a graduate of both MIT and Harvard Law School, as part of a fascinating life journey that began in Ethiopia.)

The FINRA innovation program also benefits from the organization’s overall commitment to being data-driven. A separate data science team is a leader among US regulators in using cloud computing and AI to monitor the marketplace for aberrations and signs of potential misconduct. We’ll plan to do a podcast with them as well. 

In this show, Haime also gives us a tantalizing glimpse of what may be ahead: a digital, machine-readable rule book.

More on Haime

Haimera Workie is the Head of Financial Innovation and Senior Director at FINRA. He is responsible for leading FINRA’s Office of Financial Innovation, which focuses on analyzing financial technology (FinTech) innovations and emerging risks and trends related to the securities market. As part of these responsibilities, he works to foster an ongoing dialogue with market participants in order to build a better understanding of FinTech innovations and their impact on the securities markets.  

Previously, Haime served as Deputy Associate Director in the Division of Trading and Markets at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He was also Counsel at the SEC Office of the Chairman. Prior to joining the SEC, he was an associate at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, with a practice focusing on corporate law. He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S., M.S.) and Harvard Law School (J.D.).

More for our Listeners

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Our special series on how the pandemic may impact the Future of Financial Regulation has  been full of great discussions. You can listen to all of these episodes here. Coming soon in the series will be conversations with FHFA Director Mark Calabria and with one of the top innovation leaders in Congress, Representative Patrick McHenry. We’ll also have episodes with Sila cofounders Shamir Karkal and Angela Wilson, and with Intuit founder Scott Cook.

Because we are living in a virtual world, many of my recent speaking events were recorded and can be watched by all:

  • LendIt Fintech Digital; a talk that discusses building a post-pandemic financial system and how the role of fintech will change moving forward.
  • Emerge Live; a panel to discuss the aftermath of COVID-19 and how we can move toward finhealth solutions to help small businesses.
  • Finovate Asia Digital; a panel session that discusses the priorities and concerns in regulating fintech.
  • Global Fintech Fest; a trialogue discussion on FinTech, RegTech, and SupTech and what they mean for financial supervision.
  • Treasury Summit: New Rules; a friendly discussion about the Digital Dollar and whether or not it is time for a fundamental change to the U.S. currency.
  • The Future of Business Post COVID-19; a panel discussion with the Provoke Management team about how businesses will adapt to the emerging “new normal” and what they miss most that does not seem to exist in the world today. 

Meanwhile, join me next week, August 11th at 6:00pm ET, for a discussion with The RegTech Association on RegTech Global Perspectives. I will also be speaking this fall at LendIt Fintech, Finovate Digital, and the Summit on Making Finance Work for Women, as well as the Singapore Fintech Festival

I am looking forward to the interim base touch virtually gathering with the finalists for the G-20 Global Techsprint, for which I am serving as a judge on Digital Regulatory Reporting.

Last but not least, AIR has released our Regtech Manifesto: Redesigning Financial Regulation for the Digital Age. It is a request for comments, so please join us in this fascinating dialogue!

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