We’ve recently made an amazing hire at 11:FS to be our new Chief of Staff, in the digital era that’s huge news and here’s why.

Digital Banking is only 1% finished. Regular readers will know this mantra. Unpacking what this means reveals important trends, opportunities and challenges for us all.

The digital era has come fully loaded with its own economics paradigm (sharing, coalescing, tandem growth), a different organisational position (human centric, non-hierarchical, saturated and interrupted) and a whole host of assumptions about human nature, society and value vs values that leave both the ‘traditional’ banker and many technologists deeply uncomfortable.

What is all this emotional engagement with users? Empathy mapping? The FS professional and their IT partners have not historically gotten on with each other, but they are at least united in having settled into a clinical, stainless steel, numbers-and-facts world. And now this. Kids in jeans. Playful design. Accessible language. Human-sized, human-centred interactions. With the technology to deliver it and the skill to prove it.

This was not meant to happen. But it has


Repeat quietly to yourself until it sinks in. Because you can hire as many fresh-faced, API-savvy digital natives as your building can hold, but until leadership understands the mechanics of dependency, or can fathom what value to a customer actually means, opportunities will elude you.

The 99% still left to be defined will occur, the question is how much you will be involved.

We can access clever technologies and some creative ways of showcasing fresh and relevant information that allow us to learn things about what we do that are not currently visible to us. Through analytics of multiple data sets we can challenge assumptions and constantly refine our operations, tactics and the services being delivered.

We can become smarter every day. Learn something and improve something, every day. That fluidity, the humility of constantly questioning and learning, the agility to engage with fresh perspective and instigate fresh thought when looking at a familiar terrain.

All of that. But that mindset is now weaponised by technology. This new world of digital connectivity changes the rules. Black boxes are no longer acceptable, value as perceived by the client needs to align with the value extracted by the provider and visibility changes the conversation.

Use the huge suite of technical capability at your disposal to minimise manual intervention (and hence the chance of error), delays (and hence the need to trust between the moments of exchange) and multiple versions of the truth (yes, that is a blockchain reference) and accept that ops are not striving for perfection or sainthood.

The technology is at our disposal. It’s Robust. Relevant. Now comes the challenge – making it all real


It comes with a new aesthetic, economic models and philosophy about the meaning of life. And it is not going away.

Customers have always liked tailored service. Digital natives expect it. And digitally native providers, are built to deliver what feels like a highly personalised experience as technology is demolishing the cost barrier and opening up a new world of opportunity for ‘pull’ financial marketplaces, leveraging re-usable components to create an exchange as unique and bespoke as an individual client. It is moulded by the client without costly ad hoc change requests.

That’s great news for digital natives. Not so good for hundred-year-old organisations, where mainframes are older than me. That means, quite simply, that most banks aren’t built for ‘digital’. And yet digital they must be or they risk becoming irrelevant.

With more and more things not being needed because of technology, and more and more things not being deemed valuable because of technology, and more and more things being possible thanks to technology.

The conversation, however, needs to be about the game-changers for business model innovation and the monetization of those relationships that are empowered by fintech, not the technology in of itself.

It raises many questions when personal, emotional and material investment blends with immediate pressures of work being done today, by people working hard today, doing what clients need today, while keeping half an eye on a rather alarming ‘tomorrow’.

What is clear is that in trying to design for the digital era from the vantage point of an existing organisation desperately trying to write itself into the future, what is produced is often a slight improvement but a pale approximation of a digitally native experience.

99% left to go. It’s time to get to work.