We were at Future Digital Finance a few months back, hanging out & chatting about ways banks can drive digital adoption using empathy.
And let me just say, the conference was great.
There were so many smart people discussing emerging tech and the future of the financial industry.
Jay Sidhu of BankMobile/Customers Bank, throwing shade and speaking the truth about how fast innovation needs to be — your presentation was 🔥
Shafi Rahman, explaining the complexities of machine learning in a way even I could follow.
Brit Simon from Citi, talking about changing working culture (you were great).
And so many more.
There was a ton packed into the two day long conference, but if you missed it, here were the most valuable takeaways (in my not-so-humble opinion).
1. Connecting with millennials is still a priority
Maybe it’s because I’m a millennial myself, but one of the biggest things I noticed this year was banks are still obsessed with millennials.
The general undertone of a lot of presentations was: what are we going to do about those damn millennials?
Some of the solutions put forth at the conference included:
creating personalized experiences
offering digital advisors
and making as many interactions as possible digital
While many of those aspects are responses to how comfortable millennials are with technology, some seemed like they had more to do with the lifestage many millennials are at.
Young people (regardless of their generation) need advice on how to best invest, save, and manage their finances. Not because of their generation, but simply because they lack experience.
The channel that information needs to be delivered on has changed — but not necessarily the information.
2. The Amazon Threat is looming
Another big concern this year was Amazon.
There was an underlying sense of uncertainty and concern about the threat of big tech players — specifically Amazon — moving into the financial space and taking market share.
On the surface, this concern feels similar to the uncertainty around fintechs a few years back, but there are some key differences.
Banks for the most part have solved the fintech problem by partnering with those companies. But that solution is unlikely to work with tech players like Amazon.
That’s because Amazon already has the benefit banks offer fintechs: a huge customer base that trusts them implicitly.
If banks can improve their customer experience fast enough to close the gap between what Amazon will likely offer and what their bank currently offers, they may be able to minimize attrition.
3. “Going Digital” is just step #1
On a more positive note, another theme from the conference indicates financial institutions are already looking at how emerging technology can be used to make banking experiences more seamless.
There was significant chatter that “going digital” is merely the first step on the road to the Internet of Things and other future integrations — which was exciting to hear.
Interestingly, alongside those feelings of “already being digitally transformed” was an echoing of concerns that cultural change was taking a long time. I frequently heard that it was hard to get executives and employees on the same side.
The root of this problem is the perception of digital transformation as a destination, not an ongoing process.
Organizations never finish “digitally transforming” because new tech is always being developed.
And they will need a way to manage change on an ongoing basis if they’re going to keep up with the rate of new technology.
The Bottom Line
The future of the financial industry appears to be bursting with change.
As new technology and new players (like Amazon) emerge, it seems the successful financial institutions will not have “digitally transformed,” but rather can adapt to new technology and manage cultural change quickly.