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While technology and business models are changing fast, the issue of gender diversity in financial services – particularly at senior leadership levels – is still lagging behind.  A Financial News analysis of Dow Jones Venture Source and Factiva data reveals that, of the 20 European FinTech companies that received the largest venture capital investments in 2014, none had a female chief executive.

A couple of months ago (Nov 26, 2014), I got a DM tweet from @sammaule saying “Been asked to put together a list of top 100 women in FinTech globally for conference in March. Looking for your input.”. I reached out to Sam and suggested we’d make this a major design theme for Innotribe Sibos 2015, and produce a joint whitepaper on Powerwomen in FinTech.

It was the start of a fantastic collaboration with Sam and Christine Duhaime @cduhaime from Digital Finance Institute in Canada, culminating in the release of the paper on June 3, 2015 during at Digital Finance 2015, the first Canadian FinTech conference, in Vancouver.

We did not want it to be yet-another-list. We did not want it to be another girl-geek-power list. What we wanted was a list of women who make a difference in financial services. Whether they were having C-level roles in their organizations or were change agents deep in the fabric of their institutions. Whether they came from big or smaller financial institutions, startups, investors, or VCs. We had the ambition to have a worldwide list.

We compiled all existing lists. Did crowdsourcing via twitter and other social media. We had a good list, but found it a bit light for regions such as South America, Africa, and Asia. We reached out to our contacts in those regions, and got additional suggestions.

We ended up with a list of 437 Powerwomen in Fintech, and could have kept going.

women list graph

The paper draws upon existing research to highlight the reality of today’s situation in FinTech, and it provides recommendations to achieve and accelerate greater gender balance within the industry. A selection of interviews and profiles sit alongside the index, highlighting and celebrating the success stories of just some of the inspiring women who are leading the way and serving as role models to others.

End August we will do an update, and have some more in-depth interviews with 25 Powerwomen from the list.

The paper serves as an eye-opener on the gender diversity gap, in advance of the debate that will continue at Sibos in Singapore, from 12-15 October. Diversity will be one of the main topics covered by the Innotribe@Sibos 2015 programme. A number of the inspirational leaders featured in the Power Women in FinTech index will be involved in Innotribe sessions to discuss the findings of the paper, and make sure the voice of women is heard.

The paper can be downloaded and is a compelling read for anyone involved in the financial industry and beyond.

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There is a great new paper out called “The Fintech 2.0 Paper: rebooting financial services”. You can download it here.

fintech 20

The paper has been created by Santander InnoVentures, in collaboration with its partners Oliver Wyman and Anthemis Group.

It is mandatory reading, and it resets the bar on what innovation in financial services should be all about.

Maybe some history first. Sean Park (@parkparadigm) from the same Anthemis was probably the first who mentioned the idea of Bank as a Platform with a nice Prezi presentation http://www.parkparadigm.com/2009/10/29/platforms-markets-and-bytes/ in september 2009.

Since then we all have seen that story unfolding, up to some months ago where the slides from CB Insights went a bit viral.

Unbundling-of-a-bank-V2 by CB Insights April 2015

This is looking at the home page of Wells Fargo, but i have seen versions for HSBC and others. The message here was that we witness the disaggregation or uberization of financial services and that the new capability is to be able to horizontally source pinpoint functionality and mix and match these into new experiences. That was Fintech 1.0. It’s a vibrant startup space, and for sure full of investment, accelerators and incubators. But it’s boring and missing the big picture.

The new paper helps us seeing the big picture. From the foreword:

“Many fintechs have succeeded but today they are still operating only at the edges of banking. To help engineer more fundamental improvements to the banking industry, they must now be invited inside, to contribute to reinventing our industry’s core infrastructure and processes. That can succeed only as a collaborative endeavour, with banks and fintechs working together as partners.”

There are many examples in the paper that illustrate that. Here is an example of streamlining securities settlement:

Securities

However, many financial institutions are still stuck in the pre-Fintech 1.0 era: they just start to see the light that Sean Park was shining on the vertical disaggregation of financial services. That is seven years after the first signals were clear in the market. They simply have not adjusted their clockspeed to the 21st century economy speed.

Other institutions were more pro-active and created corporate investment funds (some of them 100-200M USD or more) and/or partnered with accelerators and incubators. Probably most of that money is gone now. And to be honest, i don’t see much innovation that is actually shipped into the market. At best we ended up with some well advanced prototypes and we struggle to get them out of the sandbox. To quote myself: “Innovation that does not ship into the hands of a paying customer is fantasy”

The new paper shifts the innovation agenda. All the problems and opportunities in the paper are of a collaborative nature. Maybe not in a way that the authors intended.

  • It looks from the paper that the conversation with startups has moved on from competing with the banks to collaborating with the banks. I can subscribe to that, it’s a clear message i have heard from the startups and the banks during all the startup competitions i have been invited to for coaching and judging.
  • But many of the problems and challenges in the paper can only be solved through a collaborative effort by the industry at large

Just a couple of days ago i was in a meeting with heads of innovation of major financial institutions. One of the messages was that we as an industry have to be more bold, set our competitive agendas asides and join forces to compete with the next generation of competitors that are not the startups at the edges but big technology companies with very deep pockets and with the super disruptive capability of becoming ecosystem/platform orchestrators where banks will rather be the slaves than the masters.

FinTech 1.0 FinTech 2.0
Products Processes
Tactics Strategy
Doing the existing better Do brand new
Efficiency game Value creation game
At the edges At the core infrastructure
Key Performance Indicators Key Capability Indicators
Vertical Horizontal
Competition Collaboration
Prototypes Shipped Products
Transactions Enable Commerce

The new paper inspires me. I got somewhat bored of hearing the startups doing the same standard pitches, and attacking/leveraging/whatever one particular area of financial services. I am hungry to see startups wanting to play the big game. The game of infrastructure. Of re-inventing processes rather and putting lipstick on or around the pig.

In that sense FinTech is dead. The game is up. It is about enabling commerce. It’s about better banks and better banking with a greater societal awareness to enable commerce and supply chain. Not just transactions in the back-office.

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I was invited at the 7th Banking Innovation Forum in Vienna to speak on Innovation. The title of my talk was “Innovation: from tactics to strategy”

I have posted the deck on Slideshare

It was an interesting audience, with most people coming from Central and Eastern Europe, with some interesting case studies from Paolo Barbesino from UniCredit in Italy, Carlos Gomez from Activo bank in Portugal, Marcel Gajdos from Visa Europe Czech Republic/Slovakia, Efigence in Poland, and Wojciech Bolanowski from PKO Bank Polski. I made quite some notes, and if i find the time to make a post on it, i will.

Luckily, my fans are out there to help me. I planned write something about my talk as well, but Wojciech Bolanowski already did that in his great LinkedIn Post here. I have cut and pasted his post in its entirety, as it captures well what i was trying to convey in that presentation. Thank you so much, Wojciech, much appreciated 😉

+++ Start post Wojciech

Inspire other people, think differently, create spaces where people come alive, ship to customers; as well as bravery, prototyping, events, capabilities and clarity – these are ingredients for successful innovation within big organization; at least according to excellent speaker and Innotribe Co-founder Peter Vander Auwera.

How to innovate in the shadow of behemoth?

marriott

Peter spoke on the first day of 7th Annual Banking Innovation Forum by Uniglobal in Vienna Marriott Hotel (as pictured above). He was keeping the audience extremely focused and interested. The subject was complex and of great importance: how to make really BIG organization innovative. As Peter put it in an outstanding rethoric figure: “how to make babies”. I would like to add: how to make the babies when you are well-known, established, serious and successful one with huge legacy and obliging history.

The questions are (usually) much more important than particular answers, so there is not my goal to report Peters’s solution in details. What I would like to point out is the question itself. Today, in the fast-running world of fin-tech start-ups and quasi-banking innovators almost every bank is big enough to raise this question to itself. Is it enough to inspire other people with your disrutptive ideas? Is such inspiring even possible in organization too big to change itself spontaneously? What could possibly happen if you think differently from dominant thinking styles?

Obviously, being innovative within mammoth-size organization is a big challenge and requires specific attitude and social skills. As I understood one of the Peter’s suggestion is to create appropriate team which become the centre and engine of the process. The brave, capable team with clearly set culture of “rather be failing frequently than never trying new things” to quote Peter’s presentation. Some important tools to do so are special workspaces, integrating events and ways of building true alignment.

Bravery – the slide of the presentation. Source: Uniglobal

How to gain executives’ support?

The presentation was full of insider stories with some of them concerning interactions between innovators and the board members. Those were a great lesson of struggle which, I think, at least to some extend, any innovator should expect and be prepared for. The very useful take-out was about prototyping and commercial launching of innovative products. The prototype should be, according to Peter’s best practice, as vivid and identical with the final product as possible. No more “Power Point Prototypes” unless you would like to fail. What’s even more – prototyping is just a step to the real strategic goal – to deliver real, commercial product and give it to customers. “Go out of the sandbox” is another great statement I heard from the speaker. Indeed, today environment of fast growing and alternating product propositions demand being “on market”. The Grand Jury of customers has no time to screen through pilots or prototypes; every company should be ready to risk and show its innovation as soon as it is delivered. In my opinion this is extremely important to realize. Shipment to customers what is already prototyped is the crucial part of execution process in innovation. I feel it is striking and true, therefore I tweeted this immediately with hashtag #BAIF2015!

What about the reluctant middle-level-managers?

The next splendid remark is about mid-level managers’ attitude toward change. For them the main goal is “too keep any changes far away of the plan”. It is understandable and rational. For manager’s KPIs are target-related, they try to keep organization on the course to achieve them. However, any innovation process within organization creates the risk of change, which, possibly, could alternate plans and goals. This is the real challenge – to execute innovation in organization which mainly consists of medium-level managers. And execution itself is much more difficult and lasts much longer than whole creative process of gathering ideas, evangelization, internal promotion etc. What Peter stressed, and I agree fully, is thatin context of big organizations idea management process is easier and shorter than its incubation and implementation. In start-ups world there is exactly the opposite relation.

Start-ups as indicators

Start-ups in financial sector (dubbed fintech recently) occupied a lot of Peter’s presentation as he is involved in the well-known Innotribe@Sibos program. The event has attracted more than 340 participants this year. It is quite nice sample to show what’s going on in innovation. With four continental semi-finals (NYC, London, Cape Town and Singapore) it gives global overview and prime selection of activities. This could be a useful indicator for big companies to track the start-up trends and pick up something valuable from. For example in 2014 the leading areas of start-up activity were (despite a broad category of corporates/business services) investment management, lending, big data and personal financial management. It is a clear message to banks: there is innovation coming to your core businesses and it is technology-driven.

This post is inspired by presentation shown on of 7th Annual Banking Innovation Forum ; there is another one of this category, in case you are interested:

Collateral damage of 2008 – card revenues in CEE

Peter Vander Auwera on stage in Vienna. Source: Uniglobal

Linguistic disclaimer

I have written this text in English and I know my limitations. It is possible you find this post illogical, offending, unclear or too simplistic. It does not mean to be that way, so please blame it to my imperfect English skills. I am neither native nor perfect English speaking person . If you want to be helpful, do share your grammar, spelling, style and any other remarks with me. I would appreciate any contributing comment, especially if it came from native speakers.

+++ End post Wojciech

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