Earlier this month, business collaboration platform Slack held a panel discussing the future of financial services. Led by Chris Skinner, panellists from Starling Bank, Slack and TransferWise looked at how the workplace must change to reflect changing consumer and employee demands.
The panel first questioned – and rightly so – the use of the word “FinTech” when surely every “fin” company now has a focus on tech. There is, however, a massive difference between finance organisations that are using FinTech or looking into tech solutions, and those companies that were born with technology front and centre.
A key challenge in focus was that old chestnut, the legacy system. These can often tie businesses down and stop them from moving forward – particularly for more traditional incumbents – because apps might be built for legacy systems that are no longer supported and are incompatible with new systems.
But a larger challenge than legacy systems is legacy culture – looking at the human side, how can we rebuild organisations to become digital first? “The ambition to change quickly to meet customer demands transcends industries and puts a big spotlight on organisational alignment and productivity,” said Stuart Templeton, Head of UK at Slack.
‘Legacy’ structures can hold an organisation back and it’s up to the financial services industry to examine hierarchies and whether they are necessary, while seeking to break down silos and empower teams. Jason Maude, Chief Technology Advocate at Starling, argues that teams that can cross-pollinate will avoid butting heads later down the line.
Flora Coleman, Head of Government Relations at TransferWise said that the policy of today is beginning to catch up with the needs of workers. The future of work is digital and decentralised – she says this can help attracting talent, especially from minority groups. It’s important that as we introduce more technology, we maintain the human element and ensure people feel involved – Slack’s What Workers Want report discovered that 80% of employees want to know more about the company’s decision making.
Maude said FinTechs are in a good space because they’re able to balance decision making with risk taking, and a FinTech startup will have the more obvious benefit of building its culture from the ground up rather than having to restructure and change to keep up with digital transformation.
For those looking to restructure, digital tools and collaboration platforms such as Slack can be integral, especially if they plug into the tools a company already uses. For larger banks struggling with legacy systems in both technology and culture, it’s important to undergo a journey of self-reflection underpinned by technology. Banks must ask questions of themselves as they go, evaluate why they are doing things and be able to pivot not just in terms of customer demand, but listen to voices within their business about what works and how they can remain competitive.