#LedaWrites – food for thought
FinTech Futures’ resident thought provocateur Leda Glyptis leads, writes on, lives and breathes transformation and digital disruption. She is a recovering banker, lapsed academic and long-term resident of the banking ecosystem.
Thursdays are a #LedaWrites day – every week we publish a new article authored by her, exploring all kinds of topics, from the technicalities of core banking systems and the payments landscape to what it’s like working for a toxic boss, “Wyld Stallyns” leading banks’ innovation efforts and survival tips for start-ups doing business with big banks.
Below is a full compilation of #LedaWrites musings (and every Thursday a new article is added).
All opinions are her own. You can’t have them – but you are welcome to debate and comment!
The dying art of arguing
No matter how smart you are, you may be wrong. And having the conversation will always teach you something.
The great perhaps
This year, we should have the courage to move away from what we’ve always known to really push what is possible.
The (deliciously delayed) pernicious effects of “managing up”
Don't manage up. Don't treat your trench buddies like they're expendable. Be a good colleague at all times.
But I don’t like strawberries
You shouldn't always accept the premise of a question. Especially if it’s evidently not itself premised on fact.
I am an immigrant
I was asked recently in an interview what I mean when I describe myself as an immigrant. Let's discuss.
In your own time
If you think you can dictate timings for the business you are in, think again.
What happens next?
The deal is: you can moan and rant and vent as much as you want. Provided you do something next.
Impostor syndrome lite
The world is not divided between those with self-doubt and self-assurance. But if it was, I would pick the doubters...
Making the numbers dance
Numbers are always true. But they don’t always mean what you say they do.
Privilege makes for bad leadership
Here’s a fun fact for you: no matter who you are, most of the world is not like you.
Live now, pay later
I'd love to see the excitement caused by BNPL stretch to areas where lending is desperately needed.
The law of unintended consequences
I've been spending a lot of time thinking about programmable money. And this stuff scares me.
Sibos 2021: The future of money starts now
The future of money is the main discussion point at this year's Sibos conference.
If I had a penny…
If we're going to talk about inclusion, don’t talk to me about current accounts. Talk to me about money.
I bet you say that to all the girls
There should be parity in the workplace. But we are a long, long way from it.
What you sell when you’re not selling
It’s when you're not selling that your true colours as an organisation shine through.
Of the things we cannot see
As the debate around working from home unfolds, I will confess there are things that worry me.
Eat your vegetables
Everyone wants to do the parts of their job they like and avoid the parts they don't like. But the job is the job.
How do you eat an elephant?
When working on a large or complex project, you should look to break it up and take it one step at a time.
It’s not about what it’s about
Knowing that your team will know the right thing when they see it is essential.
Resigning to the facts
People join companies but leave managers. And that is a fact.
Accepting the premise of the question keeps things tidy, but life doesn't work that way.
Money is not a problem
Don’t tell me money is not a problem. It most definitely is a problem. It just isn’t the real problem.
Seen it all before
All banks are the same, but in profoundly different ways.
The time before things happen
Imagining and creating things is hard, but you don’t have to do it all yourself.
This is not a drill
Make sure you don’t write yourself out of your own story, as life happens.
Tales of longing and belonging
Sometimes it’s important to remind people that if you don’t ask, you won’t get.
How do we know if we’ve lost our way?
There are a few tools you can use to keep checking whether you’ve lost your way.
Don’t diss the bankers
There are three types of bankers, but there is only one type you need.
Don’t blame it on capitalism
We focus on reducing cost because that needs no creativity, no thought, no iteration.
The elephant in the room
We brought an elephant into the office and still some people didn’t notice. But we kept coming back.
Humans are messy things
Allow humans to be human and expect them to do the same for each other. And no, it’s not easy.
The fallacy of compromise
In life, love and business: give it your all, fight, compromise but, whatever you do, know what you are getting into.
A lot of businesses & software projects aim to be Disney princesses but end up as "a bit of a Frankenstein".
And then we came to the end
Is the time upon us to really address organisational dysfunction?
The thing about diversity
We live in highly diverse societies. We work in highly non-diverse industries.
The power of the tribe
In a global village filled with noise and people trying to get a free ride, the tribe is strong, vibrant, unaffected.
The meeting about the meeting
One of my favourite things to do is regularly assess whether we can cancel standing meetings.
Not your baby
Mind your step. See the line, don't cross it and remember not to start a fight you don't have a stomach for.
Stating the obvious
We need the obvious stated. A lot. And for many reasons.
Dirty little secrets and RFPs
Reshape procurement, the process, the risk matrix, the articulation of business value and your sordid office politics.
The Cambridge School and Curt’s jacket
Context matters. Context is everything.
The need for predictable poetry
Despite all our need for uplifting messages and poetry, the reality is we need predictability.
What are the odds…
Are the successful fintech entrepreneurs singing to themselves, "the odds are that we will probably be alright"?
Representation matters, for all of us. Represent what is possible, but above all, what is desirable.
You called me
How a company treats you through the recruitment process tells you everything you need to know about its culture.
One size fits all
Whatever your reasons for tolerating bad behaviour, that defines you. More than anything else.
Before obsessively pressing the send button: pause, rewind.
This “new normal” looks pretty familiar to me
How about we choose a new normal, the one that fixes the fundamental ways of working, not just the tool we use.
Benjy, the Carolinas most famous fintech dog
This is the story of Benjy. It’s part comedy, part tragedy, part buddy movie.
A thing apart
Teamwork, trust, and support come from a place of pure emotion.
Lock up your innovation department
Perfect the art of incremental business improvements in the cheapest and most efficient ways, before the competition.
The times are always a’changing
The story we try to reconstruct and the story we tell ourselves isn’t the full story.
Say it to my face
It's impossible to give feedback that isn’t evaluative; and equally hard to give feedback that isn't prescriptive.
It's time to focus. If nothing else, think how fast the last few years have flown by.
Opportunity costs for cynics
The only new opportunity COVID gives us is to be honest about the opportunities we missed.
Let them eat cake
The pay-off in building a bank for the future vs the short-term gains of playing it safe is worth every single bite.
You are not everybody
With remote working, productivity may be up. But what about creativity and serendipity?
A banker goes a-banking, volume 7: why can’t we be friends?
What 15 years of digitisation & modernisation have gotten us from the consumer's point of view? It's not looking great.
Game over, insert coin
We are trying to pay lip service to wholesale dramatic change but get away with cosmetic modifications.
Central bank digital currencies – don’t get the popcorn
If the art of the possible is being explored, the art of the valuable remains elusive.
Sibos 2020: Future artist
I see growing companies. I see ambitious professionals. I see evolving stories.
Old dogs, new tricks and procurement
It's time for the banks to work together to standardise their onboarding processes and documentation for fintechs.
Knowing how the story ends
"Where do I begin?" If you have ever asked me, you know my answer is always the same: in the middle.
Principles are the sort of substance that doesn't bend under pressure.
One more time, till you’ve got this
It’s time to pay it forward. To the next guy and gal.
Everyone will have a part to play, but the risk teams will set the tone for what comes next.
Unfinishedness, by degrees
If you are looking for principles to navigate unfinishneess by, ask "who".
The revolution will be regulated
When it comes to digital adoption, the regulator has been the biggest driver of change in the more mature markets.
Magic mistakes and how to make them
Do everything in your power to minimise the avoidable mistakes and the impact of the less exciting omissions.
A gift of shoes
Having walked in each other's shoes you are both a little better at your job now.
Lessons for my younger self
Careers and lives barely work to plan. Even if you have one.
Optimism might get you out of your chair and striving for a better tomorrow, but it isn't optimism that gets you there.
The stress of being stressed
This is the time to handle the pressure, not indulge in the stress.
The pretence of invincibility
Everything we do in business is in pursuit of relevance.
Storytelling for introverts
For the extroverts of all hues, ethnicities, sexualities, identities and faiths, check on your introverted friends.
Friends in low places
If you want something done in a bank you don’t need friends in high places. You need friends in low places.
Tell it cos it’s a good story
Why do all these dreamers and makers and poets work in banking transformation?
On getting a job, but finding love. Every bloody time.
I don't know how to not care.
Another trip around the sun
For our next go-round the sun let's cherish the things we have and work towards the things we miss.
Unsolicited advice on unsolicited advice
Good advice is measured, informed & situation-specific. Our industry has thrived on producing generic postulations.
Situation: not normal
Choose to act towards the next chapter. Choose to live each day of "not normal" as if more than survival is at stake.
Everything I ever needed to know, I learned from the West Wing
We don't do nearly enough. We can do better and we must do better and we WILL do better.
The in-between places
#LedaWrites has given me an expansive place where I could reflect, peel back and grow.
On making your bed and having a future
Giving the people who are building your future a reason to believe in you and your right for a future is survival.
Transformation in a post apocalyptic world
How do we ensure we are in a better place to serve, deliver, survive in the next Black Swan event?
Love in the time of COVID-19
Amazing teams have teams that care. That's how leadership works. It's a team sport.
Life in the time of COVID-19: learning to share
"Humans. So many good ideas. So many failed ideals."
Do not fail fast, learn fast instead
Being advised to fail and do so at speed, as if that, somehow, was not a relative thing anyway.
The closet of shame
Everything that goes wrong in a bank, big or small, gets put neatly away in the closet of shame.
What is office politics, anyway?
For some, politics is about winning the battle. For others, it's wining the war.
Oh to be saved of doubt and false hope
No one person should be enough to make another worthy of a future they can't themselves lose sleep dreaming of.
Work life imbalance
Let's hear it for imbalance. Being on the back foot is when you can kick the hardest.
The digital transformation bod’s infinite playlist
The soundtrack to the cycle of emotions from the day you get the job to the day you deliver results.
Living in the not knowing
Building the future is not about what you know. It's about what you dare believe is possible.
For love or money
The technology liberates us in the most terrifying way.
The Messy Middle Manifesto
Everything that matters happens because of those who stick it through the Messy Middle.
Tall tales of big ambitions and small parcels
There is nothing wrong with accelerating your career. But as always, the how matters.
Necessary conditions and sufficient convictions
If your "why" is simply "to make money", your proposition may carry all the cynicism of yesteryear.
Artificial intelligence and natural reluctance
AI prize: building a future-proof organisation with a right to not just survival but also success.
The F word
Gender doesn't make anyone a better hire. Women are there despite and in spite of it. And that matters.
Bad bosses and hardy flowers
Moving away from bad bosses is not good advice, it is essential advice.
Bad bosses aren’t the whole story: the good bosses that made me
This is what good looks like.
A banker’s excellent adventure
Learn, be excellent to each other and trust that the music will only get better if you practice. Starting today.
A dose of Hegel, banking edition
False dichotomies – either fighting them or succumbing to them to get things moving, things done, to get people on...
Fabled kings, indecision and cows
Welcome to the Great Disillusionment Swamp...
The big sleep: “trends in payments” presentations
No more placebo slides, neatly organising an avalanche of creativity on a four by four.
What the mouse army taught me: lessons for life and business
Pause and give thanks for the life changing lessons.
Funding innovation: a penny for the thought you never had
You can't avoid the pain and discomfort of change no matter how many digital agencies you engage.
Big boy problems: the challenger banks’ challenge
In the disruption era, disintermediation is the big boys' loss for sure, but not necessarily the disruptors' gain.
Contrary to what your mother told you: banking reality checks and other fables
You can be anything. But it will get messy.
Core banking changing lives, starting with mine
The truth is everything we do touches and by extension changes people's lives.
Curiosity, impatience and weird premonitions or why I should never be invited to give career talks
Be the person people will call to join on their journey.
Diversity absolutes and the absurdity of decency by design
What’s diversity good for? Everything.
Don’t be that guy: cautionary tales for banking and life
You've been warned.
Doomsday musings: banking on the verge of a nervous breakdown
The systems we laboured over will be grandfathered and stuff we don't understand will become important. Accept it.
Existential crises and procurement: the real question behind build/buy/partner
Start with deciding what is core and what is key to delivery, survival and business viability.
Digital cold callers and the end of civilisation
Cold calling - the biggest challenge to the promise of the digital future we all strive for?
Why I want you to take me for granted: leadership, delivery and core banking
Taking someone for granted is the highest degree of trust.
Why I don’t talk about gender
Diversity of all kinds is good for business. It is also good for the soul.
Mistakes, and how to avoid avoiding them
I make mistakes, I don't know better, it's a thing. It's a superpower.
Making waves: hiring technicolour delivery teams in an ocean of banking grey
When interviewing, ask people about your version of the ocean, not just ship-building.
A banker goes a-banking, volume 6: the patience of the lambs
Better is possible. Better is needed. Better is now both a business decision and a moral imperative.
A banker goes a-banking, volume 5: the gift that keeps on giving
The helplessness. The fear. The rage. And the shame.
A banker goes a-banking, volume 4: GDPR for the masses
It is time we gave some respect back to the drops that make the ocean.
A banker goes a-banking, volume 3: the party was only just beginning
It's a terrible thing to be put in a position where you cannot improve your own performance.
A banker goes a-banking, volume 2: paper for the stone ages
So I had to go to the bank today. And the day's surprises began.
Strangers in a Foreign Land: when incumbent retail banks “go digital”
It's not practicality that makes banking in a foreign country hard. It's bankers.
Declaring time of death and other ways of surviving doing business with big banks
Don't be afraid to declare time of death when it is true: it is not an admission of defeat.
Something for nothing or the fallacy of ecosystem conversations
Those "big block of cheese" meetings...
Business transformation for the home: the subversive act of helping
Over the years, I have left radically different people mildly confused by asking them how I can help them.
Blackfish, wishful thinking and self-fulfilling prophecies
If you don't want your organisation to be plagued by self-fulfilling prophecies, don't create them.
Your business, whatever it is, is consumed and paid for by humans. Staffed and delivered by humans.
Mission to Mars: or how I manage to make everything about fintech
We don't directly do good in our fintech-verse, but we push the world towards something better.
Caffeine and angry bankers: the comfort of bad behaviour
A radically different way of establishing authority, managing organisations and measuring success is needed.
The curse of collective Alzheimer’s: dispatches from industry conferences
An industry asking itself the same questions for ten years despite having the answers is an ailing one.
Core banking and core principles: getting to the future, from where you are today
It is now possible for us to be digital all the way down.
Getting to the future: learn, unlearn, persist. Repeat.
But unlearning is the only path to survival. Even if you can't learn to like that, you learn to value it.
Follow the yellow brick road: digital transformation for cowardly lions
By the time we get to the emerald city, the biggest change will have been on us: our people, not our infrastructure.
Squaring the circle: just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean it will work
There is comfort in keeping with the pack, but it may be time to go your own way.
The opposite of digital: spending the millions, forgetting the customer
Every incremental triumph you celebrate in the office, is a moment of weirdness for the client.
In defence of bankers
A new kind of banker is emerging. Less arrogant. Less entitled. More ethical and informed, tech savvy and less greedy.
On becoming, and the burden of experience
Experience means you no longer have excuses for not doing the things you know need doing.
The profound romance of plumbing and core banking infrastructure
What if, by treating the core capabilities as utilities we could totally change the game?
Banking for humanity: a land of unsung heroes
Find your legacy. Find your own flavour of useful. Dust it off. And make it better.
Open Banking: much ado about a brave new world
The intent is revolutionary. The path is non linear.
You can’t always get what you want: digital misconceptions and alpacas
But if you try sometimes, you find, you get what you need. And need is bigger than want.
On feedback and what to do with it
Giving constructive, actionable feedback is not easy. But man oh man is it essential.
When getting bad news is your way of knowing you are doing something right
I have been both a witness to and a participant in a conversation about something going wrong.
What flat earthers and bankers have in common or “I accept all writing challenges”
Things don't need you to believe in them to be true or come to pass.
The subtle art of holding yourself accountable vol 2: running away with the circus
Temptation to depart from all that holds you hostage, that mutes your melodies and dulls your colours.
The subtle art of holding yourself accountable vol 1: future James is busy
Hold yourself accountable on the choices you make and how you follow them up once you have made them.
Same old banking and bananas
Good UX is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it ain’t that good.
Assets, habits and the wand that chooses the wizard
Can you tell which bit of generalities "we have data, customers and scale" actually holds value for the future?
Getting your executives on the journey they didn’t realise they had started when they hired you
Find what your executives care about and centre your design around them so they can go off and do their job.
To go boldly forth or why you should go hug your innovation team
Imagine how much an innovation team would achieve if they also had your help.
The view from your desk: imagining a future without you in it
What if my starting point was not my desk?
The art of storytelling: trust as renewable energy
It's only when you do things again and again that trust renews itself. And a narrative builds.
The era of indulgent clients is over
Your user centric design goes out the window unless the entire money cycle moves in tandem.
The Venn diagram of doom or how I make career choices
Your gut points you a certain way; your heart decides; then your head wraps some logic around it.
Technology without heart destroys us: the hard currency of bankers’ feelings
Technology without heart will take you nowhere, in the slowest and most expensive way possible.
All this time, you’ve been doing meetings wrong
There are three types of meetings in the world.
I love what you’ve done with the place: digital transformation beyond the real estate
Stay focused on the business and don't become too attached to the wallpaper.
What we mean when we talk about legacy: mindset, architecture, data and Dave
We lament "legacy", we talk about it, we blame it. But we rarely define it because we have no intention of tackling it.
Bankers behaving badly: breaking the cycle of aggressive conformity
Find the price you are not willing to pay. And don't pay it.
Legacy is not a dirty word: reclaiming the language of core banking
Your legacy should be an infrastructure to suit your appetite, not ambitions cut to the size of dated tech limitations.
“Banking solutions for millennials”: a label of doom
Who the hell are these millennials who need help saving $50 per month?
Learning to dance: the trick in life, politics and organisational reform is there is no trick
Conversation is an art that takes practice, commitment and presence – it's like learning to dance.
The universal tribe of corporate rebels knows a few things about bicycles
Our job is to persuade organisations to let go of their old bicycle.
How come nobody gives me fish anymore? Going “all the way down” in digital banking
Bankers, use the skills you have to continue the journey and give customers something meaningful.
Planning like a banker: do not try this at home
The most heartbreaking thing is our institutional inability to learn from what we learn.
Titles, corner offices and authority in a disrupted economy
Stay teachable. And in doing so stay humble.
On expectations, gardening and promises kept: banking edition
Cross fences, walk on the grass till you find your tribe.
Fellow bankers: “ecosystem” is not a “safe word”
Ecosystems are buzzing living things for those who are part of them.
The infallible innovator: banking paradoxes for the age of disruption
The reality of corporate innovation is that experimentation is encouraged on condition of infallibility.
Between a rock and a hard place: navigating strategy conversations with cynics and pessimists
Spend time finding the right time to bring the cynics and the pessimists onto your journey.
Corporate innovation bods, acting normal “How was your day?”
I want to tell you all about my day.
Knowing when to stop: bringing start-up disciplines to the land of plenty
Maybe it’s time for the ultimate pivot.
India Stack: why I am an unashamed fan girl
The most meaningfully transformative thing I have seen in my life so far.
Start-ups: there is no right way of selling to a bank, but there is a wrong way
The do's and don'ts of selling to a bank.
Getting user centricity right: it’s all about you
It is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
True love’s first deck and other innovation spells
Three tricks to make the industry veterans smile and give the youngsters a three-second head start.
Tenacity: the least glamorous life skill and the greatest business asset
Choosing to stay the course even when it’s not nice or easy, matters.
The mythology of emergent tech: confusing reality with preference
Banking is a tech business.
Waste not want not: time as the most undervalued resource in banking
We use time as a yardstick. And yet we don't seem to value it.
“Active sponsors” and other mythical creatures of banking innovation: a survival guide
Sponsorship is a double edged sword.
Executive decision making and emergent tech: the opposite of cricket
If decision makers want to learn, they should put in the effort. Or pass the controls to people who do.
Fintech influencers and can openers
Your influence is always, always a ticket to the ball where you will find like minded folks.
Opportunity cost and the gender pay gap: the market value of decency
It's not about women or money. It's about what hiring and rewarding with integrity does for your business.
National cryptocurrencies are not a thing: a pedant’s lament
Here we are, talking about decentralised centralised networks. Madness?
Surviving the digital era by accident: banks and gen X bankers
The digital era is here and, with it, a generation that champions creative forces and conversational integrity.
BlueVine sells its founding invoice factoring business to Canadian rival FundThrough
The acquisition fast tracks the FundThrough’s expansion efforts in the US market.
SIX, BIS and SNB conduct CBDC core banking integration test
Citi, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg and UBS also took part in the experiment.
Indian fintech FPL Technologies raises $75m in Series C round
Pune-based FPL’s products are designed to create a credit-savvy population.
Video: fintech news pick of the week – Checkout.com funding; UK fintech investment; digital currency pilot in Bahrain
Our top pick of news from the world of finance and tech in bitesize video format, every week.
Matt Collinge joins start-up Sequence as CTO
UK-based start-up Sequence is “creating a new category of software”.
Digital asset fintech Zero Hash lands $105m in Series D round
The round saw participation from Bain Capital, NYCA and Point72 Ventures.
Ebury appoints HSBC innovation head Louise Chan as new COO
Chan is taking on an expanded role, covering operations, product, data and regulatory reporting.
Sydney fintech start-up Cape makes tech and product leadership hires
Julian Guppy joins as CTO and Andrew Fanner as chief product and marketing officer (CPMO).
United Fintech acquires 25% stake in asset management platform Athena
The multi-stage acquisition deal is the company’s fourth acquisition in 14 months.
ICYMI funding round-up: DigiDoe, Acorn Finance, ThankUCash, Trust & Will, MDXT, & Paywatch
Don’t let funding announcements slip you by in this fast-paced industry.