Thursday, September 18, 2008

The next generation of bankers

Given what has gone on in the banking industry this week, it appears that SWIFT had to "re-write" its closing plenary session at the last minute.

Instead of looking to the current generation of bankers (nodding off in the back after a week of heavy networking and deal-making) who got it horribly wrong, Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics, suggests the bankers of tomorrow are likely to be today's tech-savvy teenagers who can multi-task on multiple digital devices and are not afraid of collaboration.

Given the financial meltdown that has occurred this week, something certainly needs to change in the world of banking, and it is not more regulation. It is what Tapscott refers to as a "generational change".

"A new [financial services] model is necessary," said Tapscott. I don't think anybody would disagree with him, but I am not quite sure if the world of banking as we know it is quite ready for "Generation Y" teenagers or "system administrators" that can operate multiple digital devices (i-pod, television, web-based collaboration) while doing their homework or "toasters that initiate a financial transaction on the web."

There has been a lot of talk of Web 2.0 at this year's Sibos as SWIFT tries to tap into "Generation Y", but somehow it does not look so cool when you have a bunch of last generation's bankers sitting there scratching their heads because they did not pip technology providers like PayPal to the post when it came to devising new and innovative ways of making payments.

May be banks and trading departments in 20 years time will be run by a bunch of Xbox gamers and Facebook social networkers who are not afraid to collaborate or admit that they don't know everything about risk management, and will instead insource or outsource that capability to a community of non-specialists on a social networking site.

We live in difficult times, which requires some radical re-thinking of how financial services are managed and delivered, but I am not quite sure the banking world is ready for Banking 2.0.

"Computer companies don't make computers any more," said Tapscott. Well banks have stopped providing credit to one another and they are slowly coming to the realisation that they do not need to build or own everything themselves - they can insource it from somewhere else, or outsource it to a third party. But somehow, I don't think this is the kind of radical change or transformation Tapscott is talking about.

Let's see if the next generation of bankers have something better to offer.

No comments: