I recently had the opportunity to sit down with futurist Paul Barter for a chat about the future of community finance. Paul is a technology strategy, research and innovation executive with over 30 years of experience in the technology product and services sector. He also teaches Technology Strategy to MBA students, acts as a Venture Services Advisor at MaRS and writes extensively about the intersection of technology and society.
In the first part of our conversation, Paul outlined how the competitive environment in finance is changing exponentially faster than in the past, and why community financial institutions can’t afford to rest on their laurels when it comes to the future of finance and customer engagement.
Olga Z: Paul, what are the three things CFIs have to do now to be successful at data analytics in three years?
Paul Barter: In every sector historically, change came slowly and competitors were the same from year to year. It’s still true that in the next quarter that traditional competition thinks similarly to your organization, and you know how to compete with them. The challenge is that the really dangerous competition thinks differently from you, and may come from another industry. This competition could be FinTech startups or global giants from other industries – Google and so on – looking for new large markets. Those competitors are the ones you want to start planning for now. So here’s my advice for community financial institutions:
1.Move faster. Because the industry is. Enough said?
2.Be more data driven. Review the data you have on customers, and also outside data like credit scores. Find new ways to look at creditworthiness. Think differently about the metrics you use to drive decisions.
3.Be lean like a startup. When developing new products and services, create a minimum viable product, get it in front of a customer fast. These days, you can’t really have a three year plan, so you need to take an agile approach to evolving your bank or CU.
Olga Z.: What’s holding CFIs back from making these changes, and how do they overcome these barriers?
Paul Barter: We think linearly, and yet we’re living in an exponential world. We can’t predict what the future of finance will look like, and in a world where computing power is effectively free, we can do a myriad of things we couldn’t do before. At a strategic level, community financial institutions need to move out of this linear, risk-averse mindset, and start making changes rapidly.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our interview with Paul Barter, in which he discusses the three big moves banks and credit unions need to make to be part of the big data revolution, and the payoff for those who dare to think differently.
About the Contributor
Paul Barter is an adjunct professor of technology strategy at the Schulich School of Business and an advisor for the MaRS ICT Venture Services group. Paul writes and speaks regularly about topics at the intersection of technology and society.