Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Wealthfront has named former Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation head Sheila Bair and ex-Comptroller of Currency Thomas Curry to an advisory group created to help the fintech firm push further into financial services, CNBC has learned.
Bair is best known for steering the FDIC through the 2008 financial crisis, pushing back against taxpayer bailouts of big banks and warning of the risks of subprime mortgages. Curry is a former FDIC board member who served as OCC head from 2012 to 2017.
“Sheila’s and Tom’s combined experience in the banking industry will be invaluable to Wealthfront as we continue our efforts to rebuild a new, better way to bank that makes money with the client, not from them,” Wealthfront CEO Andy Rachleff said in a statement.
Wealthfront was co-founded in 2008 by Rachleff as one of the earliest robo-advisors, or automated wealth managers, a move that contributed to fee pressure across the industry. Soon, investment giants including Vanguard and Fidelity and brokerages including Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase offered their own versions of the technology.
Last year, Wealthfront added high-interest cash accounts and later bolstered the service with debit cards and direct deposit for paychecks, part of a vision for consumer finance the company calls “Self-Driving Money.” The firm manages about $22 billion overall, according to a spokeswoman.
“I love the way the team thinks outside the box to deliver more long-term value to the client, and the opportunity ahead of them in banking is enormous,” Bair said in a statement. “Technology has huge potential to lower costs and improve services for the banking public. I couldn’t be more excited to help Wealthfront create long overdue change.”