The shifting world of work #1

For a view of the future world of work, witness what’s happened in financial services.

(This article is the first of a series on the shifting world of work).

Not so long ago, banking was a rather pedestrian experience. It required standing in queues, paper cheque in hand, a paper request for deposit, a paper request for payment, and a wad of paper cash from a teller if you were lucky. Behind the glass walls was the first layer of a retinue of staff entrusted with managing your money. Above them, successive layers of increasingly important workforce, the top crust being the boardroom elite, usually drawn from the clubhouse brotherhood.

A career in banking meant a degree in accounting, a foot in the door, and a willingness to put your nose down and work your way up. As a result, banking may have been long on queues but it was short of foxes.

Today managing your money is in your hands, literally. Smartphones are our banks, apps are the staff – they’re used to receive and issue payments, and transfer funds; applying for a loan is now a thumb tap away. Importantly, banking is now relying on the agility of foxy thinking. It has to if it wants to thrive, and many of those foxes can be found in the fintech sector.

Fintech (financial technology) organisations develop new technologies to disrupt traditional financial markets. These can be anything from simple payment apps through artificial intelligence investment algorithms, to the intricacies of cryptocurrencies such as BitCoin. Their overall impact is the re-coding of how we interact with money. In a way, it’s a bit like how Facebook and Twitter changed how we in interact with media, but on steroids.

NMRQL Research is a startup fintech company operating out of Stellenbosch, South Africa, and typical of the new breed of thinkers shaping the financial services sector. They recently sent out a call to arms, and listed among the people needed to fill their ranks were the following: maths magicians, dragon slayers, bandwidth bandits, coffee drinkers, coding wizards, and bug hunters.

Note: no accountants.

[This article originally appeared on the mindofafox Growing Foxes app in the week of 5 February 2018. Growing Foxes is a school strategic intelligence programme designed by mindofafox. It is being piloted in a number of leading schools in the UK and South Africa. The app serves to support those students currently engaging with the programme. Click on the logo to find out more].

Image: ‘Dragonslayer’ by PReilly