Five Questions with Four Eyes Financial CEO Lori Weir

February 21, 2024

Four Eyes Financial is a software company based in Saint John, New Brunswick, building financial services tools for large institutional clients. CEO Lori Weir sat down for a chat with CCI President Benjamin Bergen to talk about financial technology, and what it’s like growing a company in Atlantic Canada.

This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

Benjamin Bergen: Lori, thanks, for joining me for this conversation. Just to start off, can you give us a little bit of background about Four Eyes Financial? You know, the name of the company is a little bit fun as well. So, I’m curious if there's a bit of a story behind that as well?

Lori Weir: Thanks for inviting me to the conversation, Ben.

When we started Four Eyes Financial, our mission was to protect investors and strengthen the market economy. In many ways, what our platform and solution does is make it easier for people to make choices around investment — choices that are more suitable for the investor. And that is critical for people having confidence in the market, feeling confident to invest, and just knowing that their money is working for them.

And in making important decisions, you should have a second set of eyes.

BB: That’s great! So when did the company get started? What was the inception idea?

LW: Before starting Four Eyes, I was a consultant. I worked in a lot of different sectors. Here in Atlantic Canada, I was working with a lot of the big family-owned businesses that people probably know — Irving, McCain, the Oland family with Moosehead beer. I also had clients in Toronto, and I worked in different parts of the investment management sector. I worked in different parts of the investment management space — family offices, high net worth divisions, bank delivery.

I saw a lot of commonalities in ways that there could be efficiencies brought to the table to expedite information getting to financial advisors, and ultimately to the clients themselves. Sometimes information would be getting to the client like three months after the fact, which is not valuable in terms of making choices about how you want to move forward with your investments.

I also had this experience from the client side because I was an entrepreneur before starting Four Eyes, and I was investing for my retirement. I didn’t have a sense of interdependency with my financial advisor, and it was one of the areas I felt was kind of opaque, you couldn’t see it, feel it. It’s a space that there was a lot of opportunity to let the sunshine in. So we started building a platform to enable that.

BB: That's amazing. Now, the modern financial service industry is complex and there’s a lot of regulation. What would you say is kind of the biggest challenge that the industry faces, that you encounter as a scaling tech company?

LW: Yeah, I think this is a great question.

The regulations in Canada are very similar to those in the US, UK, Australia, which is great. And there are many principle-based regulations that kind of all drive to making sure that investors are sold products that are suitable for them. Now, that sounds very simple to say, and to accomplish it is much more difficult. There are so many moving parts.

For example, knowing your client: Ben as you go through your lifetime, there are things that happen. You might change careers, you might add people to your family, or people get taken away from your family. There are changes in the economy that affect how you spend money or save money, and all these things have to be taken into consideration to identify whether your investment portfolio is suitable for you. So tracking all of those things becomes a very data-focused effort. And currently in legacy systems — not just in Canada but in many countries — data is siloed in endpoint solutions.

The investment products also change daily, you know, the risk ratings around these products — whether it’s equities or mutual funds, ETFs or even private placements, all of these things.

The regulators care about these things, and they’ve always had rules in place, but they’ve also had to give a little bit of leeway when they do their audits and their investigation because they just know how difficult it is to achieve true show-your-work around suitability of products for clients.

What we knew when we started the business is that helping the industry to take a data-first approach would be key to realizing all of this. And what we knew was that firms were facing significant impact on their costs, because the cost of compliance kept increasing. The regulations themselves haven’t changed dramatically; I would say the enforcement has.

BB: Shifting gears a little bit, my understanding is that you do quite a bit with artificial intelligence technology. This is an extremely dynamic area, with a shifting regulatory landscape and new legislation coming down the pipeline. Lots of complexity to navigate for large firms and scaling firms.

What do you see the opportunities are for fintechs, and what can you tell me about what Four Eyes is working on?

LW: Of course, like everyone, we pay close attention to what’s happening in terms of the dramatic movement in AI in the last 18 months.

We’ve always had machine learning applications. We try to automate as much as possible in our platform to make things more efficient, but also to get people focused on the things that really matter.

Compliance supervisors and teams working in these fields are overwhelmed with minutia, and a lot of times when you hear about a financial advisor who was a bad actor, it feels like you’re asking, ‘How did it take them 15 years to figure out that this was going on?’

So we’ve really focused on using machine learning to direct our clients on the meaningful differences, to find patterns. At Four Eyes Financial, we have brought some people into the organization to work in a focused and dedicated way on applications for AI, but I would say in our space, use of artificial intelligence is very slow.

I see a really big opportunity for us in our work with CCI, in terms of how this evolves and plays out in the market. There is a huge appetite, and like in any other industry, if one player uses AI in a way that’s harmful, it could set everyone back tremendously. There’s also the risk of over-regulation around AI that could create significant challenges.

Ultimately, I think new AI applications can’t just be engineering teams at financial institutions and companies like ours. Everyone has to be involved, and that includes government and other partners to ensure that we’re moving at the right pace.

BB: So,  you're running a FinTech company out of New Brunswick, in Atlantic Canada, which is, you know, not traditionally known for being the heart of the finance sector in Canada.

What, what's that like?

LW: We knew starting a Fintech in Saint. John, New Brunswick, was unconventional and perhaps even questionable. But, this is our home, where we live, our children attend school, and where we've built our networks, both locally and globally. We thought, "Why not here?"

This is not my first company, and it might be my last. It was so important for myself and for Kendall, my co-founder, that we create work in the innovation economy here. We aim to provide meaningful work for generations of New Brunswickers and Atlantic Canadians, amidst a region known for its legacy technology and attracting bright minds from around the world for education. We questioned where locals and newcomers alike could find engaging work. Yes, remote work is possible, and yes, you can work for companies like Amazon. But there's a unique pride and community spirit here. We decided to act on our conviction, and I'm proud to say that of our 52 employees, 51 work in New Brunswick, reinforcing our commitment to fostering local talent and innovation.

BB: That’s amazing. That spirit of wanting more innovation in smaller communities across Canada is really something, isn't it?

Being from Manitoba myself, the question of how to build tech companies that drive wealth and prosperity in our communities is close to my heart. In the last few months, chatting with folks in Atlantic Canada, there's a clear eagerness to seize this chance. Thank you so much for this conversation today!

CCI Team Members


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