Why there is a need for fintech innovation

This article is part of
Guide to making Project Innovate work for you

Why there is a need for fintech innovation

FinTech is no longer a buzzword among those who dwell in Silicon Valley or the UK's Silicon City; it is business critical for firms which want to grow and succeed in the years to come.

Developing technology that can reach new clients and service existing ones, in a compliant, cost-effective and clear way is imperative if providers and advisers want to develop robust businesses.

There are clear trends which cannot be ignored: the closure of high street bank branches and advisory arms in favour of online banking; the emergence of a generation born and brought up using online services and the rising advice gap. 

Building on existing technology

More people than ever are becoming accustomed to putting their financial details online. According to British Bankers' Association, nearly 14m banking apps were downloaded in 2015, a 25 per cent rise on 2014. 

With the closure of high street branches over the past five years - and the prospect of more to come - it is clear more people will have to consider moving from a branch visit to sitting on their sofas and doing their household bills.

And developments have made it safer and more efficient than ever. For example, Barclays Bank enables its mobile-based customers to take photographs of the front and back of cheques and use these photographs to deposit that money into the account the same day.

But while this is great for providers, advisers still have yet to see proper technological developments using data more intelligently, for example, that can help with the financial planning process, especially at the lower end of the client wealth scale.

Martin Bamford, chartered financial planner for Informed Choice, says: "We also need innovation when it comes to data gathering and aggregation.

"The current state of IT solutions for UK retail financial services is generally very poor and product-led, having failed to keep up with an evolution towards financial planning. Fundamentally, we still lack well adopted common standards for data between providers."

Demographic change

Twenty years ago, when I started in journalism, it was said that nobody over 60 would be prepared to do business online, as this generation was unfamiliar with technology and therefore suspicious of it.

Nowadays, those who are 60 were the 40-year-olds of 1998, those who were becoming used to new technology and even involved in developing it.

The 40-year-olds of today grew up with technology, teaching their parents how to record on a VCR and chasing the high scores on the Legend of Zelda's Famicon Disk System of 1986.

These current wealth accumulators will be the wealthier pension clients of 2038 - but how will they be accessing their financial planning in 20 years' time?

And from whom - those who ignore technological advances, or those who engage with it? 

Therefore, any arguments of clients' average age being a reason why firms will not engage with technological innovation is a dying - if not dead - argument.