Man vs Machine: The Future of Financial Services
Earlier this week we attended the Financial Services Forum’s Annual Members Conference, focused on ‘The Future of Financial Services’. When her teenage daughter asked about her day, our marketing & new business director Fiona predicted the ensuing yawn and glazed eyed look. But we think her daughter would have been quite fascinated had she attended – Fiona and our joint managing director Mike certainly were.
Gobal futurist Rohit Talwar kicked things off with mega-trend revelations. For example, did you know that human beings will soon live to be 200 years old? But parts of our bodies may give out, so a half-man half-machine cyborg scenario isn’t unrealistic. How can banks respond to that? What services and experiences will they need to provide to an ageing population that might even have computers built into their bodies? If that’s a little too ‘sci-fi’ and too far into the future for you, there’s still a job to make relevant step changes, grounded in the reality of the present, to help banks future-proof their offer.
Next up was Tom Bloomfield, hipster entrepreneur and founder of new UK bank brand and app Monzo. And boy, would Fiona’s teenage daughter love this! It tells you when you’re about to be overdrawn, shifts your money around to avoid charges, and its whole business model is focussed on how to solve “customer problems,” rather than “selling financial products”. We liked Tom, until he answered Fiona’s question about Monzo’s vision for the future of high street branches by saying that there wasn’t one! Luckily many of the other speakers disagreed with Tom on that front.
The day rounded off nicely with Dr. Greg Davies, founder of Centapse. He’s spotted the sweet spot that exists when data, technology, and behavioural science overlap – allowing us to make decisions which improve commercial outcomes for businesses. He relayed the fascinating story of world chess champion Garry Kasparov who was defeated by IBM’s Deep Blue computer in 1997. But this was just the beginning of the story. Kasparov went on to become the world’s first centaur chess player – marrying human intuition, creativity, and empathy with a computer’s brute-force ability to remember and calculate. Teaming the two produces a force better than any man or machine alone.
It’s this mix of humanity and technology that will secure the future for high street bank branches. Even Fiona’s tech savvy teenage daughter needs her hand held to understand finance – and as she goes through life making those important decisions she’ll almost certainly want a personal relationship with experts she knows, whom she can trust and who speak her ‘lingo’.
Technology alone is disengaging and isolating. Our job as customer experience designers is to keep high street banks relevant by unlocking insights on the future and translating them into experiences that make us feel connected and cared for throughout our lives. After all, 200 years is a long ride!