“Technological innovations will be the heart and blood of the banking industry for many years to come and if big banks do not make the most of it, the new players from FinTech and large technology companies surely will.” - David Brear, CEO at 11:FS.
Being part of the 21st century means being a person who is constantly adapting to the new aspects of the digital world. Just like any other facet of the world, the financial services (Finserv) industry has also been impacted by the rise of the digital era. The term, ‘financial services industry’ acts as an umbrella term for all the credit and financial institutions which exist currently. The banking industry is thus, part of the Finserv industry.
Financial services companies seem to have taken this change under their belt. They’ve maximised their potential when it comes to using innovative technology to advance their products or services. The banking industry, however, seems to be a bit more reluctant to conform to this digital wave of change.
As David Brear mentions, digital banking is only 1% finished. By nature, banking had a non-virtual aura about it, which is harder to escape than other industries. Such companies quite literally, guard people’s money. It is thus expected that they’d have a bit more resistance when it comes to going digital. For, what has always been tangible and real, is now turning into virtual currencies world-over. Online banking is becoming a new phenomenon, facilitating people’s lives to the extent that depositing money by means of waiting in a queue and giving physical money to the cashier at a bank, seems to be something of the past.
Along with this advancement in the banking and financial industries, comes the evolution of the jobs related to such industries. There seems to be a commonly shared phobia that robots will steal peoples’ jobs. While it is true that Artificial Intelligence will skew the human to technology ratio, it does not unequivocally mean that humans will lose their appeal and importance. Jobs which would have previously, consumed excessive amounts of time requiring tedious and repetitive processes, are now completed in substantially lesser amounts of time because of AI, analytics and machine learning.
Over the past 20 years, several jobs within the banking industry have become obsolete or relatively sporadic in necessity. Examples of such jobs are inputters or messengers. Inputters had the sole purpose of inputting data into a system. The scenario in Malta required a double-inputting system. Once in the front facing offices (such as branches) and once again in the back-offices since each office used a different system. This whole process has now become obsolete since any relevant information is inputted directly into a system which can be accessed by any necessary bank employee. Another particular job which was rendered obsolete with the rise of the digital era was the messenger job. Messengers were people who were entrusted with delivering important documents from one branch of a bank to another because using the normal postal system would take too long. The rise of email and digital messaging has now almost completely eliminated the need for messengers.
An example from the other side of the spectrum would be any job related to cybersecurity. Such jobs simply did not exist up until 15-20 years ago. There was no need for online security, given that online activities had not yet become the norm. Nowadays, however, an ever-increasing need for cybersecurity specialists is found in almost every industry. Going digital increases risks, especially for the banking industry. Hurting the industry is no longer dependant on a bank heist. It’s now an action which can be done remotely, from anyone’s home. All it takes is someone who is tech-savvy enough to hack banks and any other financial institution world-over. Cybersecurity Specialists & Fraud Analysts are jobs which have evolved into being, over the past 15-20 years. Thus, it seems, that the gaps which were left from the digitalisation effects on the industry are somewhat closed by the need for other jobs which evolved because of this digitalisation phenomenon.
Digitalisation is change and change is uncomfortable. It is because of this that it becomes understandable that certain advancements will face certain amounts of resistance. It is however, also inevitable. It will be the way that every action related to banks and financial institutions is carried out in the future. One must begin to understand the need for it and the inevitability of it and embrace it, rather than continuing to deny its importance. Upon this understanding and acceptance, the opportunities which arise because of it, become seemingly endless.
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