When will the finance industry adapt?

iPad

I have been thinking about this a lot lately and with all the activity in the tech/startup space I have been asking myself when will the finance industry adapt? Finance may not have the same respect it once did after the financial crisis, but it is still one of the most critical industries. Without finance the flows and commerce that drive every other industry will cease to exist. We’ve been asking this question in regards to traditional media for the last year or so, but why not pose this question to one of the oldest and most important industries in the world?

Having worked in finance for the past 3 years I have noticed it is often the last to adopt new technologies, especially when it comes to those that are common in our every day lives. I’m not talking about sophisticated supercomputers, high frequency trading technologies, or trading systems. I am talking about the fact that most banks are fighting social media, social technologies, collaboration tools and the devices that empower them. Why? My belief is that the grey beards that run these institutions don’t understand the power of social media and devices such as the iPhone or iPad. Why fight it? I am seeing more and more people, especially seniors, using iPads and iPhones in the workplace. This transition needs to be embraced.

The iPhone, iPad and app ecosystem has changed the way we communicate and interact with each other. It has dramatically increased our personal productivity and will only continue to do so. Why not embrace the power of these devices and implement them in the workplace. If not the devices, then please step up and embrace many of the new software platforms that so many other corporations are implementing.

In an industry where speed and utility are important many of my fellow bankers and I still have old and chunky laptops. On top of that, I have IE6 and I am blocked from installing other browsers. It also took me 2 years to get a blackberry so that I could always have my email with me and when I got one, I got a blackberry bold. I am not complaining or pointing fingers at any one firm, but I feel that the devices I have been given to conduct business at times hinders me more than it helps. Just like with any other corporation, employees require a certain degree of collaboration and tools that increase productivity. A further pain point is that many banks are still running legacy software, systems, and platforms. Why can’t they embrace many of the social tools we use in our everyday lives?

What do I want to see in the future? Heres my list:

  1. iPhone – Not much needs to be said here. So much more powerful than a blackberry.
  2. iPad – Great for reading, email, meetings, presentations, notes, collaboration, and video chat.
  3. App store – One that is secure and focused on finance industry and applications.
  4. Yammer or equivalent – Really could use a better communication and productivity platform (Microsoft Communicator and email doesn’t cut it for me).

I know it is eventually going to happen, but I just wish it would happen a little faster. The industry is so ripe for disruption it’s not even funny. There are billions of dollars to be made.

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