TheBridge profile: Steve Boms
Q. Describe how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your current job. Like so many of my colleagues in the policy space, I began my career on Capitol Hill. It's tempting as a very young Hill staffer to want to always have the answers -- for your boss, for other members of Congress, for industry representatives. But I was lucky to work for a member of Congress who insisted that "I don't know, but I'll find out," was always a good answer. That's stuck with me throughout my career.
Q. Job advice in three words? Learn every day
Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between innovation and regulation? Allon Advocacy works directly with organizations that seek to utilize technology and innovative new products and services to improve the financial wellbeing of consumers and small businesses. Among other services, we provide strategic insights to our clients regarding the application of the current regulatory and statutory regime on the products or services they offer and work on their behalf with policymakers to encourage the modernization of the policy regime as we evolve into a 21st-century financial services ecosystem.
Q. What can innovators learn from policymakers? Innovators can often bemoan the slow pace of government action as compared to the speed with which the technology community can move. But beneath what innovators can sometimes consider bureaucratic inertia lies an important realization: the advent of technology-powered tools -- both in financial services and in other sectors -- will have significant implications on the lives of Americans for generations to come. Deliberate consideration of both the potential risks and benefits of any changes to the policy environment is prudent, even if it can sometimes be frustrating for industry.
Q. What can policymakers learn from innovators? Perfect should not be the enemy of good. Technologists know that the fast pace of innovation means constantly evolving to meet the needs of their customers. On a range of different issues -- consumer financial data access, data privacy, artificial intelligence -- policymakers could benefit from thinking about their work similarly: we have to start somewhere and recognize that these issues will take us on a longer journey than the policy arena might be accustomed to.
Q. Favorite book/podcast/long-form article you recommend? Completely unrelated to innovation or policy, but I recently read and loved Hampton Sides' "In the Kingdom of Ice" about the doomed expedition of the USS Jeanette to explore the North Pole.
Q. Favorite app? My favorite app at the moment is Personal Capital. I love how easy it is to see my comprehensive financial picture in one place, and then the capabilities the app provides to take action based on my unique financial situation.
Q. Which Member of Congress/local lawmaker is most tech savvy? I vividly remember Rep. Ed Perlmutter showing off his brand new FitBit -- way before anyone knew what a FitBit was -- to everyone he ran into.
Q. Embarrassing work moment? My most embarrassing work moment was completely self-inflicted. My boss on Capitol Hill sponsored legislation every Congress that would have required a bittering agent be added to antifreeze, which, because of its bright color and sweet taste, attracts both children and pets to taste it when it has, for example, leaked onto a driveway. Unfortunately, antifreeze is terribly poisonous. A colleague and I had the bright idea one day to try the bittering agent -- undiluted -- on a dare. The following three days were very unpleasant.
Q. If you had to live in another city, which would it be? If I could live anywhere else in the world, I'd pick Queenstown, New Zealand. My wife and I visited it on vacation years ago and it remains the most naturally beautiful place I've ever been.