Core banking changing lives, starting with mine
“But don’t you want to do something that changes lives?”
This, from one of my best friends, from her sun lounger.
When we first met we were 19, burning with a will to change the world. She went on to become a surgeon, saving lives every day. And me? Her brilliant firebrand idealistic friend? I became a banker. And she wonders, knowing my mind and my heart like she does. Don’t you want to do something bigger, something that touches people’s lives?
The truth is everything we do touches and by extension changes people’s lives. And as a banker you have the chance to do exactly that. There may be little romance in pensions, but I wish my grandmother had had one. There is no fire in mortgages, but coming from a country of inaccessible loans towards home ownership i can tell you how it is the stuff of dreams. Roads that take children to schools and goods to market need financing. Money makes the world go round and there are ways to make it all a little better from inside the capitalist establishment.
But that is not the answer I gave her.
What she got was a lecture on Foundry and core banking transformation.
Whose life is it anyway
First of all, and I am not joking, the first lives that Foundry changed are our own.
My life has changed, my team’s life has changed.
We have come together with a vision, a dream and good cheer.
We set to work.
The client liked what we were doing so we did some more.
The team grew.
Talented, brilliant folks kept joining our ranks. And each day we see it in each other’s faces and in each other’s work: we are united by purpose. We don’t just love working together. We believe in what we are doing.
We believe in the innate beauty of the solution we are providing, we believe in what our clients are trying to achieve and our ability to help them. But above all we are united in why we are doing this in the first place.
What my teenage self would make of this
My teenage idealistic self would not have been impressed with me becoming a banker. The level of complexity would have appealed to her, I’ve always enjoyed a challenge. But becoming part of the grey establishment less so.
She would have approved of my rebellious ways, pushing boundaries and winning small victories, being part of the Fintech wave (by accident as well as design) would also have appealed to her. Having found my tribe would have appealed to her. But let’s be honest, my 19 year old political scientist firebrand self would have reserved judgment until Foundry. But now everything changes.
Now I can say to my younger self: everything I have done and learnt has brought me to this place, where I can join this team of humans and build something that will make banking fairer. More accessible. Not because we will focus on green products or financial inclusion. Not because we will look at the under banked or the unbanked, not because we are singularly taking on crippling fees and unfair terms and conditions but because we are taking on all of it by creating infrastructure that frees our clients from the constraints and costs of crippling legacy.
We are not fixing a single issue. We are fixing the ubiquitous problem. That made servicing certain communities financially impossible. That made issuing certain products financially untenable. That made looking after the vulnerable a balance sheet liability. We are fixing the infrastructure that drives costs up and creates risks that make it impossible to look at the margins as a zero sum game: no longer is looking after marginal issues and small communities done at the expense of your profit margin.
We are transforming the infrastructure that has long been the reason or excuse for leaving people behind.
And does it matter?
Does it matter, to be able to have access to the system, to be on the grid, to have a bank account? Hell yes.
Does it matter to have access to affordable loans and credit products? Hell yes.
Does it matter to have options that align with your values and what is good for the planet…
We are building the infrastructure to suit our aspirations.
Every day, I walk through the door of the Foundry office and I feel proud. Proud of the team, proud of our partnerships, proud of the dream that drives us.
When I asked the engineering team to comment on our corporate goals they scraped my lukewarm descriptions and replaced it with a statement that was disarming in its simplicity: we will build the best systems possible to democratise access to financial infrastructure. The best, for everyone.
They have changed my life. And each day we strive towards this goal we are closer to changing the lives of our customers and their customers, freeing them from what held them back so they can do the best work, for their customers, anon anon.
So when my friend asks don’t you want to do something that changes lives, the answer is: I do. And I am.
And when I think of my teenage rebel self, I think she would understand that banking products are too ubiquitous to not be deserving of a firebrand’s attention, that access matters, that helping your clients help theirs is how the chain works.
I think she would see the value of solving infrastructure problems and not their more dramatic manifestations.
And I know without the shadow of a doubt that she would be proud to work here. With this team. And this dream. She would be surprised at just how emotional one can get about plumbing. But she would in time love that too.
By Leda Glyptis
Leda Glyptis is FinTech Futures’ resident thought provocateur – she leads, writes on, lives and breathes transformation and digital disruption as CEO of 11:FS Foundry.
She is a recovering banker, lapsed academic and long-term resident of the banking ecosystem.
All opinions are her own. You can’t have them – but you are welcome to debate and comment!