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Shaping the future of finance

Always look on the bright side of life

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The non-stop coverage of coronavirus, global markets slumping, an economic armageddon, the end of the world due to a climate emergency, the melting of the Arctic and Antarctic ice, rising of the oceans, weather fatalities, a farce of a US election, the UK and EU in a stand-off over Brexit, the cancellation of the Olympics and yada, yada, yada, it’s hard to find much optimism out there.

But I’m an optimist.

So, I looked for some …

… and stumbled across an article from late last year on Bloomberg:

Bright Future for Banks, If Not for Bankers

The article is about automated trading and how it is getting rid of humans from the investment process. Goldman Sachs is held up as a good example:

“Goldman spent roughly $12.3 billion on compensation and benefits in 2018, more than half of its total operating expenses, and just $1 billion on communications and technology, which is typical of Wall Street banks …

“The move to automation is obviously bad for rank-and-file bankers, but it’s no better for their bosses because a smaller headcount requires fewer managers. So it makes sense that Goldman is culling its upper ranks …

“What’s bad for bankers, however, is likely to be a boon for shareholders. Big banks are transforming into vast technology platforms overseen by a smaller core of executives and business generators …

“The big banks also have little to fear from upstarts. Technology becomes cheaper and more widely available over time, but brand and distribution is enduring and difficult to attain. That gives Goldman and its peers a considerable edge …”

Optimistic?

Of course. Looking at the future, pandemics may get rid of cash and cards, automation may get rid of zombie jobs, and nationalism may make globalisation less adorable but, all in all, we humans will still be here doing something.

We won’t be destructed by Skynet, but we will more likely be engaged in a higher purpose. A higher purpose vis-à-vis Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek ideal of money becoming irrelevant and humans seek to realise their true self.

Sure, it sounds ridiculous, but the idealistic view of the future is that humans engage in things machines cannot do. We focus upon creativity, philosophy, empathy, competitiveness, fitness, health, wellness … all things human basically.

Can a machine out-perform a human in art, music, dance, sport, patriotism, relationships and all the things that make me, me and you, you? Can a machine truly deceive me into thinking they are human or, put another way, can a human truly deceive me into thinking they are a machine?

We are becoming cyborgs but the blood, nerves, veins, brains, heart and soul of humanity will always shine through. As a result, I’m not worried about today’s challenges. Tomorrow’s? Well, that’s another day.

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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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