"Money makes the world go around." It's the promise of progress and pushing things forward
So why is it that the financial services sector often feels bereft of progressive innovation when compared to media, tech, travel and retail?
For years there's been an apparent disincentive for the industry to innovate. Consumers have been starved of genuine choice and alternatives, as the big banks have pursued operating models driven by self-interest, rather than serving customer needs.
As a result our relationships with these brands and institutions have become characterised by uneasy necessity rather than real value and affinity.
Cue the financial crisis and what little trust and confidence there was, eroded quickly. A system that we all so readily rely on and with the potential to do wonderful things for the world, became toxically associated with systemic failure.
But out of the destruction of the crisis new impetus has emerged, as consumers increasingly embrace the new technologies and platforms offered by start-ups and early stage businesses. The so-called Fintech movement has spurred new sources of value and innovation from the chaos, all geared towards generating more utility and relevance for the consumer.
Recent research (Javelin Strategy and Research) shows that PayPal a relatively young brand is now the most trusted provider of payment solutions on the planet. And millions of consumers continue to flock to alternative, smart, tech-powered methods of managing money, offered by companies such as Nutmeg, Monetise, Currency Cloud and Transferwise to name but a few.
Financial services brands used to take decades to garner trust and credibility, but the sands are shifting radically. Post the crisis, the old rules no longer apply and consumers are far more willing to trust a brand based upon their behaviours and the actual experience they receive, rather than their reputation and longevity.
Technology is undoubtedly powering the re-making of the system, but it's the mindset of a new set of entrepreneurs and business owners that is truly transforming the space. They are free from legacy, outdated models and self-interest.
At the heart of their business models, brands and cultures are transparency, simplicity, accountability, the right level of risk and seamlessness of interaction and use. These are qualities that inspire the new, allow ideas to flourish and create customer-in approaches.
The old banks won't disappear overnight and indeed they are beginning to collaborate with and integrate the technologies and methods of new players. But we certainly live in an age of capitalist Darwinism, where even the most venerable names in the sector must adapt, or die. One where RBS or HSBC could quite easily become the next Blockbuster or Pan Am.