According to a report commissioned by the UK’s Treasury, Britain’s financial services system is experiencing an existential skills crisis. Why? As digital start-ups have moved quickly to offer desirable working benefits such as flexible hours or learning and development opportunities, financial institutions have been comparably slow to react to new workplace demands.
On December 15, US bank Goldman Sachs announced what many believe to be the strongest restrictions on fossil-fuel activity by any major bank in the United States. Most notably, the bank has become the first big American lender to restrict financing on any part of the oil-and-gas sector, with a particular focus on protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The United States will soon break a record: the longest period of economic expansion, last set in the 1990s. But some don’t see this growth continuing much longer; they expect a recession, or even a depression, to extinguish the growth trajectory the world’s largest economy has been following for nearly a decade. Are these fears justified? Or are there as many reasons to expect the economy to continue to soar, shattering all records?
Digitally native customers are driving banks to jump into the future by embracing technological breakthroughs such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation. And in the process, banks are discovering the many advantages of these innovations, from cutting down on costly human errors to improving everything from fraud management, operational efficiency and trading. As they progress through their digital evolutions, many are reinventing themselves for the better.
Open Banking, which allows third parties to build applications around the activities of established banks, is curtailing the way banks have always functioned. The tried-and-true vertical-integration model, through which a bank maintains a firm grip on all of its operations, is being replaced by a more cooperative approach. How will innovative banks fulfill their roles as suppliers, producers and retailers of financial products and services in the Open Banking era?
The name of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 describes its purpose: slashing the US corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent would result in executives investing the resultant savings into growing their companies, increasing productivity, creating jobs, equalizing wage inequalities. If only the executives were on the same page. Instead, many are funnelling the lion’s share of the windfall into share buybacks, benefiting their investors.
The first week of August saw Facebook announce that it had drawn up proposals with major investment banks and credit-card companies to form data-sharing partnerships. According to the Wall Street Journal(WSJ),
As the landscape of financial services continues to change, it’s critical to stay ahead of the game. ATMs were groundbreaking achievements once upon a time, while more recently, mobile baking was the logical next step in banking’s maturation.
Many bankers love blockchain for its potential to maximize efficiency and productivity while slashing costs and security risks. But the crypto-currencies, such as the (in)famous bitcoin, tied to it? Not so much—at least not across the board. While giving the thumbs up to distributed ledger technology for its advantages in areas such as trade finance, industry leaders are maintaining a wary eye on cryptos, due to disadvantages such as volatility.
Rarely has a technology been met with the excitement and trepidation that AI has. Because artificial intelligence not only matches but can surpass human intelligence, it is exciting as a means to improve speed, save cost and maximize accuracy—but menacing for its potential to displace human workers. Banks are embracing AI for its staggering benefits, while also acknowledging that it creates a few wrinkles that need ironing out.