Wells Fargo, Schwab Mingle With Disruptive Financial Tech Start-Ups at Finovate

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- This week in San Jose at the Finovate financial technology conference, banking giants like Wells Fargo (WFC) and Schwab (SCHW) will be joined by the likes of Moven, Hedgeable and Trizic, start-ups with unfamiliar names moving into a familiar business: helping people with their money. 

Changes in technology have created an opportunity for small start-ups to attack the banking business, an industry with once-high barriers to entry. In some cases, the small becomes large, like the publicly-traded Lending Club (LC). Others are just getting started. 

"If you want to see how technology is changing the future of financial services, you come to Finovate. There is nothing to compare," says Brad Leimer, Chief Innovation Officer of Banco Santander USA  (SAN), in the conference's official marketing materials.

What can we expect to see announced at Finovate this year? Unlike Money 20/20, the annual event that takes place in Las Vegas, where CEO's of companies like American Express (AXP) make announcements, Finovate is more about the smaller start-ups that are disrupting traditional banks.

You will probably hear something from Moven, the global mobile bank start-up that's likely to pioneer areas where banks are slower to roll out features, along with, perhaps, a big partnership with a company like IBM (IBM) or Accenture (ACN). Also look for news from CEO Mike Kane of Hedgeable, a robo-advisor offering downside protection.

Other digital wealth management offerings, like Trizic, which sells solutions to brokerage firms and registered investment advisors, will be there. Wells Fargo and Schwab, which have shown an ability to innovate by rolling out tech-savvy solutions like "Schwab Intelligent Portfolios," may also have announcements. 

Fans of Jim Cramer's CNBC program "Mad Money" know that he's a big fan of Wells Fargo -- like me -- for good reason. The company is among the best-run financial services companies in the world, with the best price-to-book ratios and market cap to show for it.

In an April article on Real Money titled "Take Wells Fargo to the Bank," Cramer writes, "Wells is primed to outperform again." The company is part of his Action Alerts Plus portfolio.

The company will have a presence at Finovate, since it's just as likely to be learning from, or investing in, some of the start-ups presenting this week in San Jose. Wells Fargo was an early investor in Lending Club.

In keeping with its focus on smaller start-ups, fast-growing but later-stage start-ups like Betterment (which some predicted this week might become a $1 billion company in five years) will stay away.

I'm a huge fan of FinTech and I'm not put off by recent price fluctuations of listed players like Lending Club that only serve to remind me to focus on the fundamentals, and not lose sight of how other factors, like short interest, can drive down a stock in the short term.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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