In a recent editorial in the Boston Business Journal, GPS FinTech instructor Sarah Biller discusses Boston fintechs and their unique position to be able to transform the finance industry and solve some of America’s most pressing financial challenges. Biller is co-founder of FinTech Sandbox and founding advisor of MassChallenge FinTech.
By Mike Storiale
When FinTech began its ascent, single-solution providers opened the door to expertise and simplicity rarely brought to the table by traditional banks. Solutions designed to meet unique needs created excitement from consumers and investors alike.
By Josh Deems
The saga of finance technology, dubbed “fintech,” is on a delayed start compared to other industries. When the proverbial innovation alarm clock rang around 2004, a digital revolution ignited media,telecom, retail, and other nimble segments into transformation. New ideas, technologies, and companies emerged and became entrenched in our daily lives. In the meantime, financial services hit the snooze button… but why?
Innovation in finance has happened before
In the 1950’s, the invention of the credit card was thought to render physical cash obsolete. By the 1960’s, ATMs appeared, threatening the existence of live tellers and bank branches. Starting in the 1970s, stock brokers ditched phone and paper based trades for electronic systems. From 1998 on, consumers and retailers began transacting for goods and services through linked-bank accounts via the online payments system, PayPal.
Major advancements in banking technology have happened every decade since the end of the Second World War, but none harnessing the disruptive power of the revolution we’re facing today.
Fast forward to 2008. New banking services materialized again, this time driven by the millennial thirst for digitization, the anti-establishment distrust of arcane banking processes, and the chutzpah of start-
ups and investors. Concepts such as peer-to-peer lending, digital wealth management, and the first fully electronic currency, Bitcoin, became the focal point of innovation. The theme shifted to the ‘unbundling’ of core banking services often thought as too large, too complex, and too regulated to face disruption.
Overview of new services
Highlighted below are two of the more prominent technologies involved in the paradigm shift of the banking industry. Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology and buzzword associated with Bitcoin, and robo-advisors, or digital wealth platforms changing the way we manage personal portfolios.
How to stay ahead
From behemoth banks to lean start-ups, the appetite for seasoned bankers, savvy coders, and entrepreneurial-minded individuals who can bridge the tech and finance gaps is growing. According to LinkedIn data from September 16, 2016, there are over 450 fintech job recommendations between New York, San Francisco, and Boston, and over 650 in London. And these figures ignore the opportunities unlocked by starting your own fintech.
If you’re interested in learning more, a great place to start is the MS in Science for Digital Innovation offered by Brandeis University. The program condenses the fintech ecosystem, and blends the finance and technology skillsets required to build your own personal fintech toolkit. And the secret sauce? The program is taught by experienced professionals who are engaged in the academic, finance, and technology communities.
The finance digital revolution is upon us, and our economy is becoming increasingly mobile and on-demand. Become an active participant in the movement and take the opportunity to learn new topics, network with like-minded individuals, and explore how companies are changing the way banking is conducted worldwide. Soon, you will become the face of the fintech revolution as well.
Josh Deems is an AVP and business strategist at State Street Corporation’s Emerging Technologies Center. Prior to joining State Street, Josh was a management consultant, focusing on operating model improvement and digital experience for asset managers. Josh holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from the George Washington University with a concentration in finance.
Did you know that Brandeis GPS offers courses for professional development? Enroll in an online course this fall and network with new colleagues in a 10-week, seminar-style online classroom capped at 20 students. Registration is now open and we’re celebrating by profiling our favorite fall courses.
Get an introduction to the evolution of the financial industry landscape, the challenges and opportunities presented in today’s new era, and the drivers behind industry changes. With this 10-week, graduate-level course, you’ll analyze case studies of well-known FinTech companies and discuss leading business models, technology and trends. Topics will include:
Fall courses run Sept. 14-Nov. 22. Whether you’re looking to complete a full degree or advance your career through professional development, this course is designed to equip you with the necessary skills for making an impact in any industry or organization.
How it works:
Take a part-time, online course this fall without enrolling in one of our graduate programs. If you like what you learn and want to continue your education, you can apply your credits from this fall toward a future degree. Questions? Contact our enrollment team at email@example.com or 781-736-8787 or fill out our first-time registration form and we’ll be in touch.
July’s thought leadership webinar was led by Timothy Bosco, Senior Vice President of Investor Services at Brown Brothers Harriman.
Read more FinTech insights from Bosco here.
Register for our next thought leadership webinar, The State of FinTech, here.
Access other GPS thought leadership webinars here.
The following blog post was written by Timothy Bosco, Senior Vice President of Investor Services at Brown Brothers Harriman. Tim will be hosting a webinar on this topic on Thursday, July 28 at 2 p.m. EDT (rsvp here).
It’s that dexterity large organizations envy most. In fact, there probably isn’t a corporate innovation team out there that hasn’t, at some point, incorporated the “fail fast” mantra into their lexicon.
Large companies also recognize that many of the same factors that threaten a startup’s success can impact their own product strategies to the same degree – technology can evolve overnight, customer preferences are fickle, funding is always limited, and new competition can spring up from anywhere at any time.
The difference for startups, though, is that they have the most to lose by ignoring signals to fail fast. In most cases, it is their survival instincts that draw out the entrepreneurial resiliency needed to bootstrap success even if that means setting aside their original ambitions.
Pinterest is one of many great examples of a startup that was forced to abandon its initial plan only to architect an even bigger opportunity. In 2009, the founders of Pinterest initially attempted to launch the very first mobile-enabled shopping application called Tote. Despite strong customer demand, retailer support, and adequate seed funding, the idea never took off because of the relative immaturity of mobile payment technologies. Instead of doubling down and waiting for payment technologies catch up, Tote switched gears and relaunched a much simpler application that kick started a new visual social network phenomenon. It turns out that Pinterest is among the most likely IPO candidates in 2016 with an anticipated $11 billion valuation.2
While large companies can’t necessarily manufacture the competitive environments that shape actual startup behaviors, there is still a lot they can learn from successful entrepreneurs about staying lean, focused, and in control of new product innovation. The following table outlines a few key success factors commonly found among startups that reinvented themselves early in their lifecycles.
Adopting Successful Startup Strategies
Within the corporate context, these startup strategies also suggest an ideal investment profile for mitigating risk. The minimum and maximum ranges depicted below illustrate the relative levels of investment in terms of both time and money throughout the product development cycle.
Creating the Right New Product Investment Profile
It clearly takes both practical decision making and an unconditional commitment to make it big as a startup. The people who run them are responsible for every detail, every success, and every failure. It is that entrepreneurial perspective that guides startups to fail fast. For that reason, established companies must understand the importance of empowering their product teams to own their decisions about how to incorporate failure before it gets expensive or even worse… before it becomes destructive.
1 Forbes, 90% of Startups Fail: Here’s What You Need to Know About the 10%, January 2015.
2 Nasdaq, Is Pinterest a Top IPO Candidate for 2016?, December 2015.
GPS is excited to announce the launch of a fully online, part-time master’s degree that is the first of its kind among U.S. colleges and universities: a Master of Science in Digital Innovation for FinTech.
The FinTech degree is geared toward creative thinkers who work for organizations that rely on technology for providing efficient financial services and systems. Developed in conjunction with experts in the field, the program seeks to service a global financial industry where digital advancements are becoming increasingly critical to economic success and market growth. A March 2015 report published by Accenture shows that investments in FinTech tripled between 2013 and 2014 alone. To stay competitive and meet industry demands, startups and international corporations alike will need to invest in untapped technologies and innovations.
“Financial technology is everywhere, whether you’re using mobile banking to pay for your monthly mortgage or an app to pay for your morning coffee,” said Anne Marando, executive director of Brandeis GPS. “In a world where more and more institutions are turning to mobile technology to transact business, this program gives financial professionals the tech skills necessary to develop innovative solutions and approaches.”
The program’s part-time nature allows students to complete the 30-credit degree in 1.6 to 3 years. The FinTech curriculum captures the industry’s latest tools and best practices while incorporating the rigorous standards of excellence that make Brandeis one of the country’s top universities. A professional advisory board will monitor and ensure the currency and relevance of the program’s courses, which will cover topics in finance, software, analytics and UX design. Required courses will include:
Students interested in joining the MS in FinTech’s inaugural cohort should submit their applications by Aug. 16, 2016. Students may also take individual courses prior to applying for admission or for professional development purposes. Registration for the fall 2016 term opens on Aug. 23, with courses beginning Sept. 14. Visit www.brandeis.edu/gps for more information.