Partner Research

Building Transparency and Trust in AI Fintech


By: Bill Hortz, Founder and Dean, 

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In the rapidly evolving world of AI FinTech, transparency and trust have emerged as critical pillars for long-term success. As more financial institutions adopt AI-powered solutions, they must navigate complex issues around data privacy, ownership, and the risks of opaque “black box” systems.


This first article in our new “AI FinTech in Wealth and Asset Management” series, we explore the deep-seated issues around transparency and trust in AI FinTech and the dynamics at play to address them. We reached out to Nathan Stevenson, CEO of ForwardLane – a leading AI WealthTech startup that has made transparency and trust core to its values and ethos and has earned recognition as a Certified Transparent™ organization. Nathan will be sharing his in-depth knowledge and experiences on his continuing journey of applying AI in financial services for sustained growth and ROI.

Hortz: Why is building trust and transparency so important for the future of AI FinTech?


Stevenson: Trust and transparency are important in AI FinTech because clients want to maintain their own IP (intellectual property) and competitive advantage in the market. If you do not know how your data is being processed, this leaves you exposed to compliance and audit risk.

There is also this growing trend in the AI industry, much like “green washing” in the ESG space, of “AI washing” where companies use buzzwords like “glass box” solutions without truly embracing transparency. I am concerned that if you cannot trust the validity of a company’s messaging, then you have to question the quality of the data, the insights, and most importantly, the protection of your IP.


Hortz: How are you and your firm addressing these concerns?


Stevenson: To meet the highest standards of transparency, we have aligned ourselves with the principles developed by Nobel Prize-winning scientists and leaders from Stanford, as well as Dr. Rainford Knight, CEO and Co-Founder of Transparency Global which has analyzed over 55,000 companies and found that only 2% meet the standards for environmental, social, corporate governance, privacy, and trust.

To address these concerns, we provide our clients with direct access to their own data, full auditing, and API-level transparency into our Insights engine. It is only with this level of transparency and openness that you can be sure we will not steal your knowledge, that you will not be exposed to “bad actor” risks, nor reputational risks associated with unethical AI.

Collaboration and partnerships also play a vital role in establishing trust. ForwardLane has long-standing partnerships with industry leaders like Invesco and Salesforce, working together to develop AI solutions that automate insights and deliver them into user workflows. The company has also partnered with data providers like BentoEngine and Intergen Data to create new insights and is transactable on Microsoft Azure and AWS.


Hortz: What is a Certified Transparent™ organization and why did you actively pursue this particular certification?


Stevenson: We are working with Transparency Global, a company with a mission to accelerate the world’s adoption of transparency and, through a decade of research and analysis of 55,000 companies, have determined six factors that define transparency. Achieving their Certified Transparent™ organization designation showcases our commitment to innovation, customer success, responsibility, and trust to our clients.


Hortz: What else have you learned about building transparency and trust?


Stevenson: Throughout our journey, ForwardLane has learned valuable lessons about building transparent and trustworthy AI. Most importantly, that AI, compliance, and technology are perhaps 50% of the story. This grand endeavor is truly a human story, of working together on how to apply the technology to provide better insights so that advisors get relevant value out of engagement, that investors get the right high-quality products, that they are informed, and their interests are protected.


Hortz: What do you see as the potential future of our working with AI?


Stevenson: Looking ahead, I envision a future where transparency and trust enable a symbiotic relationship between humans and AI. It means bypassing dashboards, spreadsheets, database work, data loading, and even data processing, and just focusing on the points of interaction with intelligence. The question becomes: How can you collaborate and work most effectively with superintelligence as your new best friend?

As the AI FinTech landscape continues to evolve, companies like ForwardLane are leading the way in prioritizing transparency and trust. By aligning with ethical principles, providing visibility into their systems, and fostering collaborative partnerships, they are setting the standard for responsible AI adoption in financial services. The future of FinTech belongs to those who can navigate this path with integrity and build lasting bonds of trust with their clients and partners.


The Institute for Innovation Development is an educational and business development catalyst for growth-oriented financial advisors and financial services firms determined to lead their businesses in an operating environment of accelerating business and cultural change. We operate as a business innovation platform and educational resource with FinTech and financial services firm members to openly share their unique perspectives and activities. The goal is to build awareness and stimulate open thought leadership discussions on new or evolving industry approaches and thinking to facilitate next-generation growth, differentiation, and unique client/community engagement strategies. The institute was launched with the support and foresight of our founding sponsors — Ultimus Fund Solutions, NASDAQ, FLX Networks, TIFIN, Advisorpedia, Pershing, Fidelity, Voya Financial, and Charter Financial Publishing.

Bill Hortz

Bill Hortz

Institute for Innovation Development, Founder and Dean


Bill Hortz is a business innovation writer, independent business consultant, and Founder/Dean of the financial services business innovation focused Institute for Innovation Development.

Bill has over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry including creatively restructuring and developing internal/external sales and strategic account departments for 5 major financial firms; entrepreneurially pioneering new markets in the early days of the financial advisor fee-based movement and financial alliance programs in the US;  and created many non-traditional and engaging advisor educational events with major financial firms including OppenheimerFunds, Neuberger&Berman, Peregrine Asset Management (HK), and Templeton Funds Distributors.

His wide-ranging experiences have led Bill to a strong belief, passion and advocation for strategic thinking, innovation creation, and strategic account management as the nexus of business forces needed to address a business environment challenged by an accelerating rate of change.

Bill loves working with senior executives, sales/strategic account departments, and financial advisor teams in developing effective ways of using innovation resources and developing innovation skills. He considers himself a life-long “student of human nature” and is well known for his enthusiasm, creativity, and resourcefulness.

Bill is married, with two grown children (and 2 grandchildren!), living in the Tampa Bay area. He enjoys reading, engaged conversation, bicycling, spelunking, and traveling with his family.  

Little known facts: Bill worked on the last remaining docks of NYC as an underage teen, worked for the man in Hong Kong that the book Tai-Pan was based on, and constantly seeks out off-off-off broadway theatre, performance art, live music performance, and modern art museums.

Nathan Stevenson

Nathan Stevenson

CEO, ForwardLane


Nathan Stevenson is the CEO and founder of ForwardLane, rated globally by KPMG/H20 as a top 100 fintech and one of the world’s most innovative wealthtech technology providers. 

An entrepreneur and speaker with a background in quantitative finance, computer science, and applied artificial intelligence, Nathan has grown Forwardlane to become the essential insight platform used by financial professionals for personalized conversations. He has been featured as a speaker and thought leader on the application of AI in wealth and asset management in ForbesInstitutional InvestorEuromoney, and at the World Economic Forum, Yale International School of Finance, MIT, Finnovasia, and InVest.

Previously, Nathan worked in quantitative research at CQS, a top five global alternative asset manager, as well as in fixed income at BNP Paribas. He also served as an enterprise architect at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, where he worked with NYSE, Nasdaq and CME Group on large-scale trading technology projects. As an entrepreneur, Nathan co-founded two successful startups, including the travel technology startup, HotelsByDay, which was featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and the music publishing and licensing firm, Songs for Film and TV.