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"Every financial services organization must deal with high velocity change -- whether it's the impact of mobile technology, social networks, rapid business model change, the emergence of new global competitors, or heightened customer expectations. Jim Carroll has been helping some of the largest financial organizations in the world understand the tsunami of change that is FinTech.

Jim has been the keynote speaker for dozens of conferences, corporate events and association annual meetings in the financial sector, including the VISA Global Prepaid Summit • National Australia Bank • Discover Financial Services • Highland Capital Brokerage • Certified Professional Chartered Underwriter Association • LIMRA International • Diners Club Worldwide Forum • Assurant Insurance • Texas Credit Union League • First Interstate Banc System • Illinois League of Financial Institutions • SunGuard Financial • Ohio Bankers League • American Express • Bank of Montreal • Barlow Research Associates • Chubb Commercial • CapitolOne • Lincoln Financial • American Community Bankers Association • International Financial Executives Conference • US Farm Credit Cooperative • Fidelity Bank (Cayman) Ltd. • DataCard • AICPA • Credit Union Management Association • Electronic Transaction Association • Insurance Institute of Canada • IREV (Swedish Accounting Association) • Investment Funds Institute of Canada • KPMG • Deloitte • E*Trade • Financial Management Institute • Great West Life • Price Waterhouse • RBC Financial Group • Society of Management Accountants • US Committee on State Taxation • CIBC World Markets • BMO Financial Group • Credit Union Directors Association • Financial Management Institute • GBC Asset Management • TDBank .

Recent Posts in the Financial category


Last week, I was the opening keynote speaker for a small insurance industry group — and had senior executives of quite a few major property & casualty and life insurance companies in the room.

As always, I undertook an extensive amount of detailed research on the latest status of innovation within the industry. In addition, I looked back on my research and interview notes for previous keynotes for CEOs and other executives for the largest insurance companies in the world.

(Last December, I was the opening keynote for the annual Insurance Executive Conference in New York City; in the room was the CEO for Transamerica Life, among others; this is typical of many talks I’ve done within the industry over the course of 20 years)

"Kicking off Executive Leadership Council meeting with our friends @GAMAIntl  & keynote @jimcarroll in Amelia Island"

@IntellectSEEC – “Kicking off Executive Leadership Council meeting with our friends @GAMAIntl & keynote @jimcarroll in Amelia Island”

Let’s face it: the trends are real. The industry will be disrupted by tech companies. Existing brokerage and distribution networks will be obliterated as more people buy insurance direct. Predictive analytics will shift the industry away from actuarial based historical assessment to real-time coverage. Policy niches, micro-insurance and just-in-time insurance will drive an increasing number of revenue models. The Internet of Things (iOt) and healthcare connectivity will provide for massive market and business model disruption. I could go on for hours!

To gauge the current thinking within the industry as to “how to deal with what comes next,” my session included some hands-on, live interactive text-message polling.

Right out of the bat, I asked the participants if they felt ready for the massive disruption now underway in the insurance sector.

And the fact is, they are not:

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Having said that, they know that they are in the midst of some pretty significant change — the majority indicated that they believe that the insurance industry will not look anything in 10 years like it looks today.

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The reaction in the room parallels that of a recent Accenture study that I referenced in my keynote:

  • CSO’s at global companies and 94% of CSO’s at insurance companies agree that tech will “rapidly change their industry in 5 years”
  • fewer than 1 in 5 CSOs in insurance believe their companies are prepared
  • fewer than 1 in 10 believe their companies are “high value achievers”

A similar observation was found in a recent PWC study on the insurance industry:

  • “Nine in 10 insurance executives polled by consultant PwC reckon at least part of their business is at risk over the next five years – a greater proportion than in any other area of finance”

Clearly, these executives know that something needs to be done to deal with the potential for business model disruption in the industry. Yet is the industry prepared to deal with it?

Not really:

  • “Fewer than 50 per cent of respondents in the life and general insurance sectors said they would increase IT spending to help them access new customers.” Fintech is booming – but where are 
the insurance tech startups? 
29 September 2015, City AM

Here’s the current problem: there is tremendous potential for complacency to seep into the industry, particularly as Google has pulled back from its’ Google Compare initiative. (This service let people use a Google tool to do comparison shopping for insurance policies from major carriers; the CEO of Google Compare also spoke at the New York event last December).

  • “Google’s initial failure shows technology firms won’t necessarily have “an easy road” to success in the new sector.” Beating Silicon Valley to the Punch; Digitizing Insurance, 11 March 2016

Is the complacency warranted? Not in my view — I think most tech companies, when disrupting an industry and suffer an initial setback, come back in a bigger and more significant way. It’s most likely that when Google, Amazon, Apple and other tech companies  come back in to disrupt insurance, they won’t be working with major carriers to do it!

  • “Expect that when the megatechs enter the insurance space, they will insist on taking control of a much bigger portion of the sales journey, positioning themselves as an alternative end-to-end solution provider, not just a lead generator.” Life Insurance Disruption, Asia Insurance Review, June 2016

Does the insurance industry have the innovation culture necessary to deal with the potential for what comes next? My next poll gave me a pretty stark response — the industry continues to be bound up in some pretty significant organizational sclerosis.

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Is there a way out of this mess? Can the industry fix the clear strategic mismatch which exists?

In my keynote,  I suggested that disruption in such a significant issue that it really needs to be dealt with at the level of the Board; strategy needs to be kicked up a notch; clear responses and actions are warranted.

Quite clearly, specific responsibility needs to be put in place to implement a  disruption-strategy. Back to the Accenture report:

  • “Companies that have put in place chief digital officers and chief innovation officers and who report directly to the CEO tend to have a dedicated focus on technology-focused initiatives …. That’s a sign that they and C-level peers are taking technology-disruption seriously.”

Industry insight also clearly shows that insurance companies must “partner-up” to deal with the fact they simply don’t have the technology expertise to compete with Google, Amazon and others.

  • “an overarching theme …. not least among them insurers .. is that they cannot face technology driven innovation by themselves” – “How to disrupt the high-tech disruptors”
National Underwriter & Health
September 2016

Are many insurance companies following the path to partner up? Sadly, no:

  • “Only 28% of the respondents said they explored partnerships with fintech companies and less than 14% actively participated in ventures or incubator programmes.” Insurance Companies Slow in 
Bridging Fintch Gap, Mint, July 2016

I’ve been providing strategic level guidance to senior executives in the global insurance industry for over 20 years.

The issues, challenges and opportunities are stark. They’re real. They’re not going away.

Will most companies survive? Maybe not. Stay tuned!

I’m about to head out the door to Amelia Island, Florida, where tomorrow morning I will do a talk for a small group of senior executives from the insurance industry — both property & casualty as well as life insurance companies.

I’m thinking its going to be a great talk — built around the theme, “10 Realities and Opportunities with Fintech Disruption.”

As with most talks, there’s been an extensive amount of research — conference calls with the client, not to forget 479 highly-specific articles on trends impacting the insurance industry.

fintech

What’s involved in building a great keynote? Detailed research, such as these articles on the future I’ve insurance that I’m reading through. If you want real insight on future trends and opportunities for innovation that are specific to your industry, give me a call.

On the flight down, I’ll fine tune my presentation, and wade through these articles once again.

I tweeted about this a week ago:

479 articles on the future of #fintech #insurance that I’m reading today – for my keynote in Florida next week for major insurance CEO’s/CxO’s. Some speakers offer pap. Others *customize*. ”Creating a great keynote” -> /keynotes-workshops/creating-a-great-keynote/

This type of research helps me build a keynote that has detailed, industry specific information, such as these nuggets:

  • 2/3 of insurance CEOs see tech as both opportunity & threat” -from a PWC study. (Of course, it makes me wonder — are the rest asleep?
  • nearly 70% of insurance CEOs see the speed of technological change as a threat to growth and more than 60% are concerned about shifts in consumer spending and behaviour

This ties in with other specific, detailed research I’ve undertaken, not to forget the fact that in the last few years, my keynotes have involved audiences that have included the CEO’s of most major North American and global insurance companies.

My keynote includes observations from a  session I did in Philadelphia that included a private one-on-one with the CEO’s of the top 10 P&C companies in North America. 10 years ago, I had the CIO’s for the top 15 P&C/life companies in for a private meeting that went on for two hours.

People book me because they want real insight .

And that’s the reputation I’ve built in the industry — specific, detailed, information and statistic rich presentations that don’t offer motivational pap — but real concrete guidance on strategies, opportunities, challenges and innovation.

If you want real insight on future trends and opportunities for innovation that are specific to your industry, give me a call.

We can talk about the specific ways in which I can help.

 

Through the years, I’ve done a tremendous number of talks within the insurance industry, both the life and P&C (property and casualty) sides of the business.

For years, it’s been a pretty slow industry. That’s all about to change — in a big way! Indeed, we might soon see Google, or Amazon, or some other company with big technology, lots of data, and new methods of reaching potential customers that will forever disrupt and change the industry. Some folks have been talking to this potential for a few years, as seen in this article.

GoogleInsurance

I just did a talk for the CEO and senior executive team of one of the largest life insurance organizations in the U.S.

The main thrust of my talk was that the opportunity for big,  disruptive transformation in the life insurance industry is now accelerating, as three major trends come together.

  • bio-connectivity drives medical care, with opt-in for performance oriented life policies based on real time reduction of morbidity stats. People are using health and fitness monitors on their iPhones. If they can show good results from their health and wellness goals, an insurer would be far more likely to take a risk on them
  • we’re moving into a world of real time analytical community healthcare status updates that feed into actuarial tables; think about Apple’s recent initiative with it’s HealthKit (first to be used for medical research). It’s only a matter of time before real time healthcare dashboards are part of the health system in the Western world. I wrote about that before, in my post: “Trend: The Emergence of Real Time Analytical Predictive Healthcare Dashboards.”
  • every industry is being disrupted, as big, bold thinkers take over the agenda of an industry. Maybe in just a few years, we’ll see the Amazon Prime “No Hassles, Real Time, No Questions” Life Policy.

Some people in the life insurance industry see this trend, and see a threat.

The most amazing thing is that this is happening in the context of an industry that, if it is not dead yet, is certainly in the triage department:

MetLife’s premiums on policies sold to individuals last year totaled $409 million, a decline of 26% from $553 million in 2005. Industrywide sales of individual life-insurance policies are down 45% since the mid-1980s, according to industry-funded research firm Limra. About 30% of American households have no life insurance at all, up from 19% about 30 years ago. People of Wal-Mart: Struggling Life Insurers Seek A Middle-Class Revival, 25 July 2014, The Wall Street Journal

Those are staggering numbers.

Real innovators see the same trends, and see nothing but opportunity. The industry is totally up for grabs.

Cayman

“Of particular interest to your editor were the words—and the AK-47 speed at which they were uttered—of Jim Carroll”

At this time back in 2007, I was the opening keynote speaker for the Cayman Business Forum.

I had about 700 people in the room; international financiers, wealth managers, bankers. At the timel, Cayman was one of the world’s leading offshore banking centers.

I write about this now, because I return there tomorrow with my family, for a personal vacation. No keynotes! But having visited Cayman, I always vowed to go back, and am thrilled to be doing so.

When I was preparing for my keynote, I had the delightful opportunity of speaking for about 1/2 hr the prior evening with the Governor of the Cayman, H.E. Stuart Jack, at his home, where he hosted a small party with the local elite.

Part of my discussion with the Governor revolved around my belief that with forthcoming growth in Asia, and other major trends involving high-end skills, Cayman was certainly in the position of losing its lustre and standing in the global money race.

My keynote was open, honest, aggressive, and blunt.

Later press coverage showed that I certainly caught some attention — and that my message resonated with the Governor.

To set the scene, the best and the brightest from both Cayman’s private and public sectors had gathered at the Ritz-Carlton to hear presenter after presenter look into their crystal balls to predict the future of the Cayman Islands. Each year Fidelity Bank sponsors this event, bringing in distinguished speakers from overseas.

Of particular interest to your editor were the words—and the AK-47 speed at which they were uttered—of Jim Carroll, a chartered accountant from Canada who now bills himself as a “futurist.” Carroll makes a tidy sum sharing his knowledge and insights with large corporations and audiences throughout the world.

Carroll believes—and certainly convinced many in the room — that the global velocity of change is affecting every area of our lives. He cautioned that if we don’t adapt to this super-synapsed new world, well, we all recall what happened to Tyrannosaurus Rex.

To illustrate the concept of velocity, Carroll projected on a large screen an image of a charging
cheetah in full pursuit of one thing or another—our guess is a gazelle (lunch) — but it makes no difference to our tale . . .

By chance, after Carroll finished his dissertation, it was time for a coffee break, and we approached our good Governor, H.E. Stuart Jack, with a smile on our face and a question on our lips: Do you see any irony between the cheetah on the screen and the fact that the national symbol of the Cayman Islands is a turtle?

Today, Singapore, Dubai and London have transitioned to take over the role as global economic powerhouses in terms of wealth, money and banking. And the Cayman still finds itself playing a powerful role as the world’s sixth largest international banking center — but lagging behind the growth rates of other financial centersas most global wealth concentrates in Asia and the Mid-East.

What’s the moral of the story? I’m not sure — but sometimes, I hope that in some small way, my thoughts on stage, and the opportunity to speak at such an event, can help to shape future outcomes! Maybe turtles can transform into cheetah’s!

Contingecies2014

“Actuaries can expect that all of these technologies will continue to become more interconnected, said Carroll.” Read the article by clicking the image.

The American Academy of Actuaries has just released their July / August edition of Contingencies Magazine, with an article about the impact of technology on actuarial practice.

It’s a great article: with quotes such as this, you know its presenting some challenging ideas as to how insurance industry, and the actuarial profession that assesses risk, is in for wild ride:

From intelligent interfaces like Google’s Explorer glass to ingestible microsensors, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence, burgeoning technological advances stand poised to disrupt traditional practices within the actuarial profession and the insurance industry.”

I’m quoted liberally throughout the article.You can click the image to access the PDF.

From the intro to the article:

REMEMBER THE SLIDE RULE? For actuaries of a certain generation, slide rules were an invaluable accessory. Invaluable, that is, until the invention of the personal calculator. In the same way, many experts believe that Excel spreadsheets, the current workhorse of most actuarial departments, will soon be replaced by calculating in the cloud. Disruptive technology—the term of art for any technological advance that unexpectedly displaces an established process—is now expanding so quickly that one disrupter often is almost immediately superseded by another. (Consider the rapidity with which we’ve moved from using GPS devices in our cars to letting mobile apps on our smartphones do the job. By the end of the decade, it’s likely that automatic cars will not only navigate but also do the driving.)

Innovations that qualify as disruptive technology are actual ly both disruptive and connective, said futurist Jim Carroll. Not only is the way that people and devices are getting connected “unprecedented,” Carroll said, so is the manner in which all the interconnected data are being analyzed and used.

This goes to one of the main points that I raise with clients: control of innovation in every single industry is shifting to technology companies, and the pace of innovation is accelerating to that of Silicon Valley as a result.  Every industry is coming to be ruled by the reality of Moore’s Law! This is providing for a lot of fascinating change and disruption!

I also offer some comments on might happen with life insurance policies as we go forward

Using more personalized information will lead to what Carroll calls “performance-oriented insurance,” which he defined as coverage in which the risk will be accurately understood. “And if your measurable activities reduce or eliminate any risk, you will be rewarded through a rebate or reduction in insurance cost,” Carroll explained—something that is already happening with one of Progressive’s auto-insurance products.

There will be an emergence of insurance companies forthose who are willing to give up their privacy, while other insurers might write coverage for those who want to maintain their privacy,” Carroll said. “It is going to change business models.” The connectivity goes further when real-time vitals are sent not just to the doctor but also to an insurance com- pany that’s considering pricing, Carroll said.

It’s a good read, and worth your time. Read the article here.

CNBC interviewed me a few weeks ago on the question of “trends that could shake up the financial industry.” Over the years, I’ve done thousands of such interviews.

They just ran the resulting article, “4 Trends Changing the Way You Manage Money.09MonarchBanking1.jpg

A couple of key points:

The article observes:

Last year Accenture, a global consulting firm, released a report that peered into the banking sector’s future. It concluded that by 2020, banks could lose 15 percent of their market share to technology companies.

“Who gains in this market share?” asked the authors of the Accenture report. “Digitally oriented disruptors that are far more agile and innovative—the equivalent of speedboats competing against schooners.”

That certainly fits the key theme I’ve been explaining to many of my clients  since 2009 — that the pace of innovation in every industry is shifting to Silicon Valley.

My part in the interview? Cash is disappearing. As with any trend, I explained my thoughts on the future by viewing the world through the eyes of my sons:

On a recent kayak trip, Jim Carroll asked his 19- and 20-year-old sons if they had any cash that he could use at the store. Instead of handing over a few bills to the Mississauga, Ontario-based futurist and author, they gave him a blank stare. “They told me they don’t use cash, and that’s huge,” he said. “The next generation doesn’t use money at all.”

According to Carroll, in the future every payment, including credit card purchases, money transfers and business bill payments, will likely be done virtually. “We won’t have credit cards in our pockets,” he said. “Every payment will be done through our mobile devices.”

The global mobile wallet market is expected to grow by 35 percent a year between 2012 and 2017, and mobile payment transactions topped $235 billion by the end of last year, according to Gartner Research.

This has implications for credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions that lend money, issue credit cards and wire cash between countries.

I know everyone is talking about mobile payment, but do folks realize where it is really taking us.

I often challenge my clients to think about the long term, substantive trends that are forever changing every industry. I truly believe one day in the future, cash simply won’t exist in the form that we know it today — bills and coins. The question is when; it’s simply a matter of timing.

And as that comes about, there is going to be a tremendous amount of change and disruption occurring. Fianncial organizations have to be relentlessly focused on innovation and the ingestion of new ideas and technologies if they have any hope of coming out the other side in acceptable shape.

 

 

Here’s a clip from a recent keynote for an insurance association at their annual conference in New Orleans; I’m speaking about the challenges that emerge in the industry as the pace of innovation in the world of insurance shifts to Siilcon Valley, and a new generation of mobile-enabled customers demand different methods of interaction.

I’m doing a lot of insurance keynotes lately, in all sectors — property and casualty, life, employee benefit plans.2013Insurance

It’s catching some attention. The folks at ACORD, (Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development),  a global, nonprofit organization serving the insurance and related industries, reached out to me during the summer for a quick interview on some of the ‘big trends and challenges impacting’ the industry.

What’s moving the industry forward?
Published: 9/4/2013, ACORD

In searching the internet, looking for current events in the insurance industry, I recently came across an article from 2009 discussing the next big thing in the insurance industry by 2015. At the time, futurist Jim Carroll had plenty to say about the unavailability of niche skills due to increased underwriting complexity; the likely emergence of “social financial widgets”; and the implications of pervasive connectivity upon the insurance marketplace.

I reached out to him for an interview and asked him just how much his views on the future of the insurance industry have changed. Below is his response.

What are the most important things the insurance industry should consider as we move into the future?
The pace of innovation for the insurance industry – and indeed, every industry – is shifting to Silicon Valley. Think about the impact of GPS based driver performance tracking technology. The innovation with this type of tech occurs with computer and hi-tech companies who know how to innovate faster.

That fact will yield more significant business model disruption. If Silicon Valley has more control over insurance industry innovation, then it will have more control over the development and implementation of new and different, disruptive business models. Don’t think that ‘disintermediation,’ which was a big perceived threat during the dot.com years, has gone away!

Add to that the fact that the next generation of insurance customers are unlike any we’ve known before. My sons are 18 and 20, and will soon be responsible for big insurance decisions. They’ll be influenced by social networks and peers, online collaboration and research, online video. Generation Next is going to be a completely different type of customer, and they’re choice as to carriers, policies and distributions will be influenced in fast and new and interesting ways!

How will those changes impact the industry and the way the insurance industry conducts business?
It means that if you are a carrier, distributor, broker agent or anyone else, you need to learn to change – and change faster! Look, folks who work in the tech space innovate at tech speed. 65% of Apple’s revenue comes from products that didn’t exist 4 years ago. With such things as GPS auto tracking, there’s the opportunity for emergence of all kinds of new and wonderful insurance products. Some folks are going to get those to market quicker than others. And consider the wired, intelligent home – it’s happening now at blinding speed, and there are all kinds of opportunities to challenge ourselves as to the types of policies we underwrite, because the very nature of risk can change. I’ve got 3 webcams in my ski chalet that instantly notify me of any unusual activity – I should have a carrier that jumps out at me with some kind of innovative new policy.

What advice would you give to those who are having a tough time bracing for the future of the insurance industry?
Some people look at a trend, and see a threat. Real innovators – and long term winners – see the same trend, and see an opportunity!

I spend a lot of time speaking to global financial organizations —some of the world’s largest institutions — helping them understand what they need to do from an innovation perspective to stay ahead of fast paced change.

These talks are often aimed at the idea of “how do we need to transition our advisory services — as financial planners, investment advisors, wealth managers — to keep up with fast paced change?”

No where is that question more important than when thinking about the impact of technology and social networks on investing. Think about the change that the investment industry faces. We are witnessing the early stages of a massive transition of wealth from one generation to another. The numbers are staggering: we’ll see $12 to $18 trillion in intergenerational wealth transfer In the next12 years (US GDP is $12 trillion) in North America; and by 2053, some $130 trillion will have moved from one generation to another.

When it comes to financial services, adopt change as a mantra and prepare yourself to reach, support and interact with Gen-Connect in new and different ways.

That’s a lot of money sloshing around — and much of it is going to a new, tech-savvy financial consumer.

This next generation — I call them Gen-Connect — continue to aggressively integrate technology into their lives; they’re busy researching health care, insurance, retirement planning and investment advice online, on Facebook and through other social channels.

So what do you do? Adopt change as a mantra and prepare yourself to reach, support and interact with Gen-Connect in new and different ways.

Here’s a list of innovation strategies I provided in a recent keynote for a major global financial institution

1. Focus on growth

With so much volatility in the financial sector, it’s all too easy to take your eye off of the “opportunity ball.”

Yet there are huge opportunities that surround us ; probably the biggest is that we are going to witness a massive intergenerational transfer of wealth from the baby boomer generation to their uber-wiredGen-Connect children. In every area of the world this is going to involve a requirement for a lot of financial advice. As I noted in my remarks for a recent keynote to a group of senior bankers: “Never before has the need for financial advice for Australians been greater; only 20% of Australians are currently getting professional advice.”The same holds true for North America.

That means there are tremendous opportunities for growth! For many, access to financial advice is still too hard and complicated – that’s why it’s a great time to innovate, in order to build market share!!!!

2. Structure for fast paced change

There are several certainties in the financial sector as a result of the impact of technology.

We will see more business model change as companies leverage technology to change relationships in the world of wealth management; we will see more sophisticated competition as a result, and continuous business model disruption with new, young upstarts that really know how to leverage technology and social network relationships. Combine this with continual shifts in consumer behaviour as we manage more of our money and investments using online tools — and speed things up with even faster technology-driven fast change, such as with the impact of mobile technologies.

What happens when ‘there’s an App for everything’ in wealth management? That’s what you need to keep up with!

3. Reshape brand messages faster

Clearly there’s a lot of fast-paced change in financial services , and it’s critical that financial institutions continue to reshape their brand at the pace of rapidly changing consumer perception.

Part of this has to do with how quickly volatility comes and goes. Noted Jim Buchanan, Senior VP of Consumer Marketing at the Bank of America in an article in Advertising Age, October 2009: “Six months ago, we were trying to re-assure the market and consumers that we are safe and secure….now consumers are telling us they’re not worried about those things anymore…..What they are interested in is ‘How can you help me manage my finances?‘”

Innovative organizations ensure that the brand message evolves at the pace of a world in which volatility is the new normal. As a financial manager, you must make sure that your brand and image are seen to be modern, up to date, and in tune with the brand expectations of Gen-Connect. You can’t be “your grandfathers’ wealth manager” anymore.

4. Adapt to momentum of financial consumer change

Quite simply, the new financial client is online in a big way, and smart financial organizations will evolve their service and support message to these platforms.

The numbers are staggering; in the case one recent keynote I provided for a major financial institution, I emphasized that:

    • 147 million people interact globally on social networks via their mobile phones – we can expect 1 billion within five years!
    • usage of Twitter continues to grow at a staggering pace — and people spend more time on Facebook each week than they do on watching television.
    • they spend far less time reading newspapers and magazines in paper fashion — and in fact, some don’t look at such products at all!

The result of this i that they are increasingly influenced by advertising, marketing and branding messages that they see online. If you are still trying to reach out to them through traditional media, you might be missing them altogether.

It’s not just about marketing — it’s also about customer support. The entire world of customer support has gone online, and you need to be able to support them in the world to which they are accustomed.

The bottom line for financial and investment advisors is that social networks are an extremely effective tool to keep core clients in the loop; as an outreach tool, they’re fast, effective, unique, quirky, and certainly the story of the day. Financial advisors have to go where the client is going, and should be thinking about how to become socially-networked oriented advisers. Given regulatory issues, that can be a big challenge!

5. Adjust platforms to this changing behaviour

I continue to emphasize with my global financial clients that the impact of mobile technologies on financial services is absolutely massive. Think about Wizzit, a South African service that is essentially a text message based banking system.The reality is that the new financial consumer expects to be served on new platforms: as noted by Thomas Kunz, Senior VP at PNC Financial: “Gen-Y does not reconcile chequebooks  and they don’t believe in float. For them, their balance is their balance.”

That’s why PNC has released a “virtual wallet app” available for iPhones. They’re reaching out to this new financial consumer in a big way. That’s why every organization is scrambling to keep up with “Appworld” particularly considering that Apple sold 3 million iPad 3′ within the first 3 days of release.

Aggressive change with business platforms provides big opportunity for business model disruption. A key factor here has to do with new client acquisition: what’s happening is the point of origination of the relationship might change as people transition their banking to mobile devices. Opportunity can come from continuing to build the advisor and distribution channel into these new platforms.

And that’s not a threat – that’s a huge opportunity!

6. Leverage off of new peer-to-peer behaviour trends

The new financial consumer relies more than ever before for advice from their social networks. Peer-to-peer social driven advice through sites such as TradeKing is coming to the forefront: it’s a service that allows people to share stock tips and research through extended social networks.

Does this diminish the role of advisory services — not at all, if you drive in and become a part of the peer-to-peer conversation!

7. Re-orient distribution channels

Here’s another key point: I’ve emphasized to my insurance and other financial clients that the next-generation advisor/broker/agent expects ever more sophisticated technology platforms to help support their role.You’ve got to make sure you are keeping up with their needs.

In one survey in the insurance sector, 80% of brokers indicated that the sophistication of the technology platform of the provider would influence who they would choose to do business with.

According to Kevin Murray, EVP and CIO at New York-based AXA Equitable: “The younger generation of financial professional will almost demand online self-service….they will want to text any questions they have into the service centre or self-service from their mobile device. We’re going to have to be able to provide that capability. It’s how they will operate.”

8. Build your own peer-to-peer collaborative knowledge networks

The new financial advisor is also thinking socially, and is actively looking for peer-to-peer collaborative knowledge. Imagine building a financial advisory team that is collaborative for ideas, share insight on market wins, constantly leverages insight from new branding campaigns that work in unique ways, and constantly shares great idea son new methods of converting leads into clients — that’s how this next generation works!

Back to Kevin Murray: “They will also want an online collaboration tool to …find answers concerning product or questions from their customers. The X and Ygenerations are going to demand a different way of selling and servicing their customers.”

What’s it really all about? Freeing up their time to build opportunity, make sales, close deals.

9. Reduce churn through electronic relationships

Here’s something else to think about according to Chief Marketer (October 2009), “The average brand saw one third of highly loyal consumers in 2007completely defect to another brand in 2008“.

People are far less loyal, and far more likely to jump ship at the drop of a hat. That’s why continuous innovation in terms of the relationship is critical — and that’s maybe why continually transitioning to new technology platforms such as an iPhone app might reduce that churn

10. Better, more focused niche marketing

We’re in the new era  of analytics and analysis, which provides new opportunities for advisors to reach out to markets previously unattainable. As noted by Money Management Executive in October 2009: “Financial advisers generally prefer to manage a small number of high-net-worth clients rather than a large number of small accounts, but recent advances in automation technology could change this dynamic.”

11. Evolve the approach

Insurance and financial advisory services are products that are always sold based on fear — they aren’t bought.

This reality doesn’t go away because of new technologies. What does change is that technology is a powerful enabler that frees advisors forum having to focus on the mundane, routine, time wasting stuff, in order to focus on providing the advice & guidance that advisors can provide. Focus on the core role!

12. Enact change

Many advisors will be in comfortable, established routines. Change is not easy. That’s why organizations in the financial sector that are trying to be innovative need to help existing advisors focus on the opportunity and the benefits that come with rapid change, rather than being fearful of the change that technology is bringing to the industry.

Bottom line? As I sum up in many of my keynotes — “Innovative organizations make bold leaps, in order to keep up — and stay ahead —of a faster future.

Recently, I’ve had two absolutely fascinating session, each about 2-3 hours in length.

In one case, a major private equity firm engaged me to meet with their main advisory board In another case, I met with a group of very wealthy investors who were / are owners of major family held businesses, with valuations into the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars.

Over the years, I’ve taken on an increasing number of small, intimate events for investor groups that have involved me leading a wide ranging discussion of the investment opportunities I see emerging in the future.

In both cases, these small, intimate meetings (with 20-40 people) were built around a structure in which I would cover a wide variety of future trends where I saw significant opportunity in the future. We then had a wide ranging discussion around these opportunities and a very lively debate.

Both were pretty heavy duty groups, with current and ex-CEO’s, Congressmen, Senators, venture capitalists and angel investors, university professors and researchers. Without getting into a lot of detail, one of the events had me take on four specific issues. These are the key areas that I spoke about:

  • big data: what’s beyond the hype, and what’s real?
  • intellectual property – what’s next as a venture play
  • oil & gas & US energy self-sufficiency: what sideline opportunities are emerging
  • regulatory challenges: as the velocity of change runs up against regulation, who will emerge as unique winners?

In the other case, I defined future opportunities in the context of the vast, transformative trends that are upending industries, providing for massive business model innovation, and for a lot of competitive disruption:

  • pervasive connectivity: massive opportunity as every device is connected, and we have awareness as to its status, location and IP address
  • big, bold movers: the phrase I use for organizations who are in a transformative frame of mind in solving big problems in healthcare, energy and the environment
  • revenue reinventors: how to find the signs of organizations reinventing their revenue stream at a furious pace, which is fundamental to success in todays economy
  • health care reform: what’s really happening, and who’s really innovating far beyond the political bluster. Think bioconnectivity, virtuality, mobility, wireless.
  • the future energy: opportunities beyond shale which involve accelerating science. Cows!

These types of sessions are tremendously invigorating; I really enjoy them, and the feedback in both cases was fabulous.

So there’s another thing that a futurist does that you might have never thought we do.

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