Why FinTech will still need a human touch

By Frank Conway

Market disruptions across a vast variety of services have pitted established players against nimble upstarts.


FinTech will still require a human touch
FinTech will still need a human element to serve the financial needs of consumers

Uber, the taxi / ride sharing service is probably one of the most disruptive if we measure if from a market protest perspective. Across the globe, Taxi drivers are up in arms. Across France, they have blocked roads, airports and much more as they claim the upstart rival is just plain wrong. But it is not just the French that are up in arms. From London, to India and Rio de Janeiro, Uber has become the face of App led disruptions and a lightning rod for established player ire.

But Uber is just one of a myriad of technologies that seek to completely up-end established players.

The personal finance sector is being completely up-ended by financial services driven by algorithms without a human in sight.

Geeks 1, Humans 0…so far!

But then, last week, I discovered something completely unexpected.

A popular seminar series that I have been running into some of the world’s leading global tech brands was a massive and instant hit.

I was warned before the seminars to expect the unexpected and be prepared, really prepared.

In truth, I always research my audience so that I can ‘pitch’ my lecture.

In the case of this omni present global tech player, I prepared for an avalanche of very demanding questions. After all, they were the guys building the new world order. And in fairness, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a whole range of questions following my lecture, it’s refreshing to talk to a team that engage and interact.

But here is the really revealing part.

The questions were completely human, personal, and emotional. Everyday concerns they felt needed a human explanation, a sense of human connection to real human questions of money and financial security.

My lecture “Are you as financially fit as you would like to be” is a 60 minute discussion that encompasses the human aspects of financial planning. It is a departure from the rote-taught principles of financial planning and takes the attendees on a more informed personal journey of their own habits and financial planning techniques.

But it was the questions at the end of the lecture that taught me one important lesson also.

In an era when vast amounts of investments are being ploughed into FinTech companies, into so-called robo-advisers, financial segmentation models based on personal credit score algorithms, they cannot entirely replace the human need for human interaction on personal finance.

Personally, I am a major, major believer in the great good that tech has brought to financial services (and others). From the massive reduction in transaction fees to elimination of personal bias in credit underwriting, tech has been a force for change.

But on a cold and windy mid-week afternoon in Dublin at a global giant in cutting edge tech space, the questions were completely human. It is this that confirms that some aspects of the human dimension in financial services will continue to play an important role into the future. And it is this dimension that financial service providers must master if they are to continue being relevant in this financial services landscape.


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