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12 Reasons Why Banks Don’t Innovate


12 Reasons Why Banks Don't Innovate

I just got back from the ICEEfest in Bucharest, Romania.  It’s a fantastic expo organised by Dragos Stanca and his team, and was very enjoyable even with the master of ceremonies, Jeff Leach, taking the mickey out of me.  Jeff is an actor and comedian, and spent the whole conference f-bombing the speakers and the audience.  Different!

Anyways, one little moment stood out enough for me to blog about, and it was the presentation from Capco’s FinTech lead Jeff Tijssen.  Jeff threw some slides up, including some that were attributed to me (which helps when you want some blog coverage!), and then listed 12 reasons why banks find it hard to innovate:

  1. PR value versus real results: often banks have innovation theatre to make it look like they’re doing something when they actually aren’t internalising it
  2. Hampered by Heritage: too much legacy infrastructure to be able to adapt and change
  3. No real sense of urgency: few banks have a burning platform and what drives banks is not customers but regulators so unless it is mandated, why bother
  4. Cannibalisation of existing revenue streams: like the Wal*Mart vs Amazon discussion, creating a marketplace where third parties compete with internal products is not welcomed
  5. A lack of experienced innovators: banks tend to eradicate innovation and so an innovation culture is extinguished
  6. A culture clash: a bank’s culture is all about risk minimisation, which directly conflicts with change, and if no one thinks they can do it, almost everyone thinks they can’t
  7. A lack of ownership and sponsorship: the leaders of banks got there because they are bankers and don’t want to take risks with technology they don’t understand
  8. “Compartmentalised” innovation: innovation takes place around the periphery in departmental compartments but is never internalised across the enterprise
  9. A risk-averse culture: banks don’t allow risks and, if you fail, you can expect to be fired
  10. Governance, governance, governance: unless the regulator allows it, we ain’t gonna do it
  11. Fear to kill new ideas quickly: we just can’t allow new things to take over because it might destabilise the bank
  12. Who else is doing this: if no one else is doing it, then we’re not (but surely that’s why it’s innovation?)
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