Three Strategic Issues Shaping Financial Services

By Al Dominick, CEO of DirectorCorps (parent co. to Bank Director & FinXTech) | @aldominick

Quickly:

  • Banks need to think beyond the notion that they can either build a technology solution or buy it — for inspiration, take a look at how Silicon Valley Bank uses APIs to tap into technology from third party providers.
  • Thanks to products like Amazon’s Alexa, financial institutions must now prepare for “hands-free banking.”
  • Various startups are using behavioral economics to nudge people towards making better financial choices for saving & investing.

_ _ _

If you have been to any of our conferences, you’ve probably heard me (and others) encourage participants to get up & out from their offices to see what’s happening with their customers, potential partners and competition.  I do my best to practice what is preached — and have recent trips to San Francisco, New York City and Austin to prove it.  As I re-read hand written notes, dog-eared white papers and highlighted sections of annual reports, I realize just how much time I’ve spent talking about technology-driven trends shaping the financial industry.  To me, three of the bigger issues being discussed right now involve:

  1. The push for retail customers, which may already be spurring dealmaking.
  2. How customers experience and interact with their bank — which broadly ties into the question should an institution buy, partner or mimic a fintech; and
  3. Given all the hype surrounding machine learning and advanced decision modeling, leadership teams want to know how to augment a bank’s revenues & relationships with such technologies.

To these three trends, both our editor-in-chief, Jack Milligan, and I agree that most bankers understand the imperative to innovate around key aspects of their business, whether it’s payments, mobile in all its many permutations, lending, new account onboarding or data.

Personally, when it comes to knowing one’s customer (and potential customer), I find any good experience starts with great data.  As Carl Ryden, the CEO and Co-Founder at PrecisionLender, made clear at their recent Bank of Purpose conference, “if you hold your data close to the vest and you don’t do anything with it, it’s not an asset. It’s a liability.”

So with that in mind, let me close by sharing a link to our newest issue of Bank Director magazine.  This is our “Great Ideas” issue, one in which we highlight companies like USAA who crowdsource upwards of 10,000 ideas per year for products and new technology.  At a time when banks of all sizes are starting to take advantage of platform-based services, this new digital issue is one that I am really proud to share.

 

3 Quick Takeaways from #fintech16 (aka Bank Director’s FinTech Day at Nasdaq’s MarketSite)

As evidenced by the various conversations at yesterday’s FinTech Day, the next few years promises to be one of profound transformation in the financial sector.

By Al Dominick, President & CEO, Bank Director

At a time when changing consumer behavior and new technologies are inspiring innovation throughout the financial services community, I had a chance to open this year’s FinTech Day program with a look at how collaboration between traditional institutions and emerging technology firms bodes well for the future.  With continuous pressure to innovate, banks today are learning from new challengers, adapting their offerings and identifying opportunities to collaborate. At the same time, we continue to watch as many fintech companies develop strategies, practices and new technologies that will dramatically influence how banking gets done in the future.

Personally, I believe this is a very exciting time to be in banking — a sentiment shared by the vast majority of the 125+ that were with us at Nasdaq’s MarketSite yesterday.  While I plan to go deeper into some of the presentations made in subsequent posts and columns on BankDirector.com, below are three slides from my welcoming remarks that various attendees asked me to share.

7 elements of a digital bank - by Bank Director and FinXTech

For the above image, my team took a step into an entrepreneurs shoe’s and envisioned an opportunity to build a new, digital-only bank from the ground up.  We consider these seven facets as base elements for success — and the companies listed provide real-life examples of financial institutions & fintechs alike that we see “doing it right.”

FinTech Day Deck1 (dragged)

The irony of sharing an idea for a new bank?  Newly chartered banks (de novos) are basically extinct.  So for a program like FinTech Day, I thought it was imperative to provide context to the U.S. banking market by looking at the total number of FDIC-insured institutions.  These numbers are accurate as of last Friday.

FinTech Day Deck1 (dragged) 1

This final slide comes from our annual Acquire or Be Acquired conference in Arizona.  There, we welcomed 930+ to explore financial growth options available to a bank’s CEO and board.  To open our second full day, I polled our audience using a real-time response device to see how likely they are to invite a fintech company in for a conversation.  As you can see from the results above, real opportunities remain for meaningful dialogue and partnership discussions.

##

Thanks to all who joined us, the speakers that shard their insights and opinions and our friends from Nasdaq!

Focused on Financial Analytics

When it comes to tapping the creativity and ingenuity of the financial technology sector, I think this equation says it best.

For me, the term “big data” jumped the shark a few years ago.  Much like investment bankers shelved their  “wave of consolidation” pitch, I remain hopeful that the clichéd data term gives way to something more appropriate, descriptive and dare I say agile?  Nonetheless, the concept of sifting through massive amounts of structured and unstructured information to identify meaningful insights is nothing to scoff at.  Truth-be-told, it has interested me since my time at Computech, a leader in agile and lean application software development and IT operations & maintenance that was recently acquired by NCI.

Figuring out discrete patterns to better prepare for the future is huge business — and I continue to see the largest financial institutions in the U.S. making investments in financial analytics.  I was reminded of this drive to leverage new technologies while re-reading my notes from a Q&A session I had with BNY Mellon’s head of Strategy and Innovation last September at our FinTech day at NASDAQ.  There, I made note of three companies — KenshoDiscern and ClearStory — that had the potential to transform part of the financial sector.  FinTech Focused.001With said notes in hand, I dove a deeper into each company’s background and offerings, finding all three bring interesting new models and technologies to bear on automating and enhancing the investment research process.  So as I’ve done with past posts (Three FinTech Companies I’m Keen On and Spotlight on FinTech), let me share a little about each one:

  • Kensho is pioneering “real-time statistical computing systems and scalable analytics architectures — the next-generation of improvements to the global financial system.”  Backed by Goldman Sachs and Google Ventures, and with clients that range from Wall Street’s global banks to several of the best performing hedge funds, think of the 2013 startup as a “Siri-style service for investors, analysts and traders” (h/t to the FT for the comparison).
  • In the interest of fair disclosure, all three of my siblings have worked for investment management firms, so they may buckle at Discern’s description of “conventional” investment research relying “on solo analysts armed with narrow expertise, simple tools and a personal network of resources. Nonetheless, it’s an important juxtaposition when you look at what its data aggregation platform offers.  If you agree with their assertion that the “earlier one becomes aware of a risk or opportunity, the less it costs” the more attracted you might be to this SF-based company.
  • Finally, the data intelligence company ClearStory works with financial institutions on collaborative research and customer acquisition analysis.  Their premise is to both speed and simplify the cycle of research across distributed teams, including “accessing, merging, analyzing files and a variety of external data sources.”  As they share, “competitiveness on the front lines of business is dictated by the speed of data access and the quality of informed decision-making.”

Personally, it is very interesting to learn about, and subsequently watch, companies like these these spur transformation. If you are game to share your thoughts on FinTechs worth watching, feel free to comment below — or via twitter, I’m @AlDominick, about those companies and offerings you find compelling.