On 3 October FinTech Alliance and General Assembly teamed up to host a webinar entitled ‘The future of finance is data driven’, with panellists from a cross-section of the industry and attendees from the US, Europe, Australia and Saudi Arabia.
With data and analytics fundamentally reshaping the financial services industry, financial institutions and startups alike are embracing technology and reimagining the way they use data. The panel, chaired by FinTech Alliance Editor Olivia Minnock, aimed to discuss the successes, hurdles and data-driven future of finance. It included a cross section of the FinTech sector: Huss Sheik, Founder and CTO at 9Fin; Gary McLellan, Senior Manager – Innovation and New Ways of Working at CYBG; and Hiek Van Der Scheer, Chief Analytics Officer at Aegon.
Joseph Nelson, Data Scientist at General Assembly, gave a keynote on how data analysis is becoming more and more prevalent across the financial services sector in driving positive business outcomes. “Those proactively adopting AI are certainly realising the returns of doing so,” he commented. Nowadays, most successful organisations are using data to make decisions and learn from mistakes – they then feed this back into their business model in what Nelson calls a self-sustaining feedback loop.
As organisations have gone from dabbling in analytics to becoming truly data driven, the panel examined what this really means. “Just because a company has access to data does not mean they are data driven,” commented McLellan. “What are you doing with it? Who are you getting to make decisions based on that data?”
“Are you using data to make choices?” added El Sheikh. “This doesn’t mean you have to neglect instinct or feeling but it enables you to see if your decision is working so you can stop or change course if necessary,” he explained.
It became clear that across FinTechs, banks and insurance companies, data-driven is now the key to becoming customer driven. “We’ve got a huge platform which now allows us to measure behaviour much quicker in a much more visual way,” said McLellan of CYBG, adding that data is now “intrinsic to everything we do”.
Organisations must make best use of all the data at their fingertips to properly impact the experience of their end users. Data must be brought into each area of the business to action the best decisions – but this is not without its challenges.
At Aegon, becoming data driven has meant a significant shift in culture, which Van Der Scheer said is even more important than getting the tech right. “One thing I’ve learned is that you need to transform the organisation,” he comments. At the 175-year-old insurer, top-down buy in has been key, as has starting small and showing successful use cases.
This then needs to be monitored and evaluated on a continuous basis. “We look at people who have gone through training, their mindsets, behaviours and skillsets – and make it all part of the conversation,” Van Der Scheer added, again emphasising the people and skills factor in digital transformation.
Some new and exciting trends are coming to the fore in the way organisation use data, with a large factor being that incumbents recognise the need to partner with FinTechs like 9Fin. As well as machine learning and AI becoming more mainstream, customers too are beginning to realise the value of data and the impact it has on their experience.
The challenge? To effectively and responsibly transform into a data driven organisation. Part of the answer for Aegon has been to make the role of Chief Data Officer a more central part of the C-suite. Van Der Scheer recommended that companies ensure the job isn’t just part of the IT department but a core function of the overall business. “Everything around data needs to be thought about form a business perspective,” he concluded.
In total, the webinar was attended by over 100 people across the globe. As part of General Assembly and FinTech Alliance’s partnership, and the commitment of both organisations to foster discussion and promote knowledge sharing, this will be the first of many events where our communities will have a chance to be part of the conversation.