The Women to Watch: No. 20, Well Fargo's Yvette Hollingsworth Clark

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Regulatory Innovation Officer, Wells Fargo

For all the ways artificial intelligence could transform banking, there are some things about the technology that make risk managers uneasy. One worry is that if algorithms are making decisions on who qualifies for a loan, banks could inadvertently discriminate against certain consumers and end up in trouble with regulators.

That scenario helps explain why Wells Fargo appointed Yvette Hollingsworth Clark, formerly its chief compliance officer, to the newly created position of regulatory innovation officer. As the bank becomes increasingly digital, Clark’s job is to make sure consumer, cyber and other protections are embedded in the design of digital products — whether built in-house or with fintech partners — and not bolted on later.

“If you are using AI to help identify patterns, will it inherently create an outcome that could lead to a fair-lending problem?” said Clark, who transitioned in June to the new role inside the innovation group after serving five years as head of compliance. “It’s best to discover that in the lab.”

This is not entirely new territory for Clark. Last year she wrote a report for the payments and innovation team that examined how Wells could integrate risk management into the design of digital products and services. It was largely because of her recommendations that the new role was created.

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Clark is excited about developing technology that will make banking more accessible to senior citizens, people with disabilities and the underbanked.

Despite her concerns about some aspects of AI, she believes it can be a game-changer for the most vulnerable segments of the population.

“I view AI as an opportunity to refocus human intelligence on true problem-solving through real-time corrective measures,” she said. “We have more opportunities to make general banking and transactions easy and help improve financial literacy through increased accessibility.”

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