Takeaways from FinovateFall 2019: shiny objects vs problem solvers
Another Finovate has come and gone, and wow. What a ride.
I saw some great demos at FinovateFall this year (congrats to the Best of Show winners!) and met up with internet friends. But most exciting was seeing a glimpse of where the industry is heading. Here are three trends I noticed:
- There is a lot of cool tech focused on helping customers make smarter financial decisions, with solutions to support everyone from college students to retirees.
- There is a LOT of talk about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), but the majority of the conversation is still focused on how to automate simple tasks instead of how to proactively help customers.
- That said, it was nice to see a shift away from some of the “shiny object syndrome” fintech has suffered from in the past to favor more helpful, advice driven applications (can we all agree that no one really needs to know how much they spent on coffee this week?).
But enough from me. Here’s what nine industry experts had to say about the event:
- The event: international talent
Fantastic Canadian start-ups
“Finovate has a unique buzz and my main takeaway was seeing the great representation of international fintech at the event, particularly in the commercial space. Citizens Commercial Banking has been moving for some years now towards a highly digital Concierge servicing model for our clients, which has seen each member of the team become dedicated servicing relationship managers able to deliver seamless personal interactions in parallel to our rapidly evolving digital capabilities.
“I was impressed with the sheer number of Canadian start-ups doing fantastic things, and we’ll definitely be following up with some of the Japanese, Korean and Israeli opportunities we met, to integrate these differentiating capabilities into our model as well. Thank you for making the pilgrimage to the East Coast and FinovateFall!”
Ross Pringle, VP strategy and innovation, Citizens Commercial Banking
Fintech sneak peek
“I really enjoyed being able to get a sneak peek at the product each fintech brought to the table and the ability to interact with them.”
Christian Gregory, director digital products, People’s United Bank
Hands-on experience for fintech leaders
“I truly believe that it is important for fintech leaders to get out and have hands-on experience with their community. Personally, Finovate provides the platform to get out of the office and experience first hand what is out there and how it can help transform the way we work – it mixes digital with tactile experiences with vendor booths and the incredible well run demo series that happen each day.”
Rod J Sayegh, head of digital strategy, Fiduciary Trust Company International
- Innovations: customer experience (CX), AI, and more
Technology as the enabler to better customer relationships
“It was refreshing to see the solution being the focus of conversations with the technology as an enabler, rather than ‘look at this cool technology we have’ (and that banks don’t have much use for).
“We’re intrigued by the theme of humanising the digital financial services experience through – contrarily enough – more technology. Whether it was Pepper, HSBC’s customer service robot, or the various conversational engagement tools we saw demoed, we’re excited by the opportunities to build better relationships with our customers beyond just providing online and mobile banking functions.”
Cathy Ly, head of customer experience, EQ Bank
Innovations for the biggest moments in customers’ lives
“I think there’s a real lesson to learn from the way that the industry has returned to personal finance innovations. We had a lot of people telling us that PFMs were ‘boring’ back in 2014 and 2015, because budgeting, spending, and finance monitoring apps had largely started looking and feeling the same. What we’re seeing now, though, is that those tools didn’t go nearly far enough, and a lot of innovators are pushing them forward, focusing on how to make intelligent financial decisions in the biggest moments of your life.
“PFM tools are now able to include things like how much debt you can afford to take on when selecting a college, how much home you can buy, how to plan for unforeseen medical bills, or what happens when your parents pass away. These major questions will impact consumers in a very meaningful way, but the larger lesson from my perspective is that if you’re ‘bored’ with a subset of fintech, don’t abandon it – think about how you can push past the plateau you’re on.”
Greg Palmer, VP of Finovate
CX and security at the centre of innovation
“It was clear that the theme of the week was anchored to customer experience and customer security. These shared values need to be front and centre as we continue to innovate digital banking, and the presenters and speakers reinforced that message throughout the conference.”
Anuj Khatiwada, VP digital strategy and adoption, Bank of America
- Industry innovations: maturing (but slowly)
Industry slowly maturing
“Unsurprisingly, AI took centre stage at FinovateFall this year – from the vast number of demo companies with a sprinkle of the AI magic dust, to the brief appearance of Pepper. What caught my interest though was the sense of purpose and the focus on consumer financial wellness demonstrated by some of the start-up companies. With the image of the Oculus demos still seared fresh in my brain from FinovateSpring a few years back – do I dare say that the industry is slowly maturing? Only time will tell (and I do hope so!)”
Theodora Lau, Unconventional Ventures
“I managed to take in 50 of the 70 demos across Days 1 and 2. Lots of themes worth mentioning including: wealth, robo-advisory, retirement planning; data and banking aggregation; loyalty, rewards and offers; AI, NLP and many one-offs. Most intriguing to me were:
- Cinchy – a stunning graphical experience for a data overlay app that adds onto existing banking and CRM platforms. I saw lots of potential in the corporate space across multiple ERPs and other financial platforms.
- Pinkaloo – a white-label offering for banks to offer philanthropic donor advised funds with connectivity to virtual all 501(c)3 organisations in the US and the equivalent in Canada.
- Exela – which offers a glimpse into the future for the ‘request for payment’ capabilities built into The Clearinghouse’s RTP payments platform.
Wished I could have stayed for the conference’s Day 3 and summit on Day 4.”
Seth M Marlowe, SVP, strategist, insights consulting group, Wells Fargo
Start with the user, not existing processes
“This year we saw bankers focusing on technology that can get results now. How to solve their immediate problems. A lot of the technology demos were targeted to improve existing processes or reducing friction. I would call this an inside-out approach.
At the same time there is clearly an interest coming from the banking industry for an outside-in approach, starting from the user. Behavioural banking is the study and application of behavioural sciences in the context of the interactions between people and their financial institutions. And from the work Exagens is undertaking with banks, we see that the behavioural banking approach can generate results from day one.”
Jorge Campos, CXO and co-founder, Exagens
By Tarique Khan, a banking and fintech nerd obsessed with how technology can improve the CX
This post was originally published on LinkedIn