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Revisiting the future

For a while, it wasn’t trendy to think about the future. Now that’s over — I’m noticing that companies are scrambling to try to understand the trends and issues that will affect them into the future.

That’s good — because we continue to function in a world in which the rate of change is speeding up, not slowing down. Organizations can’t afford to take their eyes off the change occurring within their markets, with their customers, with their industry, and with the world around them.

That’s where I fit in — I’ve become widely recognized by groups such as the US Department of Defense, the American Federation of Teachers, SAP, the American Payroll Association, the North American Newsprint Papers Association, CBS/Infinity Broadcasting, Nortel and many others as someone who can effectively relate existing trends to future opportunities and challenges.

A few weeks back I undertook an exhaustive full day workshop with a major credit union in New York State, taking a look at how future trends will affect financial services, and leading an interactive discussion with the Board of Directors as to the business strategies they should be thinking about.

During the session, I took an indepth look at a wide variety of trends and issues — demographic trends; ethnic cultural trends; social/cultural issues; political issues; the future of the workforce and corporate structure; geographic and “smart community” trends; technology and other trends….and put it all into a story as to how financial services will be impacted well into the future.

The session was a good example of how I’ve become a noted futurist and trends expert — how I relate current trends to future opportunities. I provide detailed insight into current trends using statistics, reports, studies and hard data, as well as formal and informal observation, and then use that to paint a picture of competitive challenges, opportunity, market change and other realities of the future. There’s a tremendous amount of original research and fresh thinking that goes into every presentation and workshop.

A very good example had to do with the discussion that I led concerning the ongoing Latinization of society — and a survey I used which indicated that while most Hispanics (now 13% of the population, soon to be 18%) are comfortable speaking English for most day to day activities, they are not when it comes to financial services. Closely related to this is that Hispanics are by and large outside the traditional financial system — only 65% have bank accounts, and they remit some $30 billion per month to relatives in their home countries — outside of traditional financial networks.

Trend? We are already starting to see a massive focus in the financial sector related to the ongoing ethnicization of society. Consider this — the Bank of America stated at their recent annual meeting that 80% of their growth is going to come from ethnic markets/marketing — think about that! The future? Expect massive focus within financial services — among other markets — on niche marketing activities related to the ethnicization of society, moreso than we have already seen today. The Hispanic market is but one example of where a major ethnic change is sweeping society.

Another trend I spoke about — the “boomerang generation.” These are the kids of today who have gone off to school, graduated, and have come back home. One British survey shows that 1 in 4 parents now expects that they will be supporting their kids into their 40’s. Not the parents 40’s — their kids! Another study out of Australia demonstrated that the family unit has changed to such a degree — mom, dad, grown kids *and* grandparents all within the same area, that the marketing of financial services is changing to recognize that. Fact is, the kids ain’t leaving — the family is becoming more extended than ever before — and there are customer marketing, service, loan and transaction opportunities here … particularly as the baby boom generation continues to age, and as the largest wealth transfer in history occurs, with $30 trillion passing from one generation to the next.

My days are spent thinking and harvesting through a huge amount of research material, all of which feeds into my presentation and workshops. This one was a fascinating presentation/workshop and is indicative of the future, trend and innovation presentations that I’ve become known for. [ link ]

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