Finance Brands Will Beat Fintechs by 2021, Roubini Says

A new report released today by Roubini ThoughtLab holds quite a few insights about the future of wealth management, the future of fintech, and the future of technology, most notably the conclusion that financial institutions with strong brand awareness will be the last ones standing by 2021–not fintechs.

According to the Roubini report, which was produced with the help of sponsors including Cisco Systems and the Bank of Montreal, large financial institutions and the affiliated brands will use their superior resources and experience to overtake the fintechs.

“We love fintechs. Cisco considers itself a fintech,” says Joe Pagano, Financial Services Lead, Business Transformation, Cisco Systems. “They accelerate value, they accelerate market innovation, but we don’t think fintechs are going to take over the world.”

The report reads:

To judge from media accounts, the winners in the wealth management revolution will be fintechs, those nimble startups that will disrupt the wealth industry in the same way Amazon did for books and Airbnb for hotels. This is not likely according to our research…total assets under management in the entire fintech sector were just $20 billion in 2015 – a drop in the bucket for a global industry sized at $168 trillion.

Roubini’s research, unique in that it pulled from both providers, technologists, economists, and investors (maybe the first to combine research regarding wealth and the economy with the changing landscape of technology) states that these institutions are already “re-inventing themselves” digitally, with 76% of full service banks and 67% of  mutual fund companies expanding fintech capabilities with in-house development and acquisitions of fintechs.

“Fintech will become table stakes in the next five [to seven] years because it can be reproduced,” says Lou Celi, CEO and founder of Roubini ThoughtLab . “Very often technology can be copied and applied to a whole range of companies.”

According to Celi, fintech has “proven to be effective” in reaching a broader audience, and the the myriad technological and financial innovations by fintechs are certainly disruptive enough—says the study—that the whole world of wealth is dramatically changing. Take blockchain, for example–according to the report, 225 out of 500 asset managers surveyed have already implemented blockchain technology.

This value won’t be lost by 2021, according to the study, it’ll just have moved back to the mothership(s) of larger, more established financial institutions who have stuck it out long enough to grow brand recognition—or in other words, to companies who already have the resources needed to produce the tech on a larger and more marketable scale. Full service banks who are already household names–like JP Morgan Chase, for example–have already built up the trust that is essential today to gain and retain customers, and by 2021, will have better fintech offerings for those customers than fintechs, says the report.

“These larger financial institutions are already adapting fintech,” says Celi. “They can apply it on a much bigger scale, provide much bigger brand awareness—which still matters even with millennials—and [the bigger companies] are much more equipped to deal with regulators.”

These larger financial institutions are already adopting both the fintech mindset and “culture of innovation,” says Celi, which drives millennials to the brands they know, pulling other demographics along for the ride.

The uniform ability of millennials to collectively terrify well, everyone, is attributable to one thing really, according to the study, and it’s the same reason fintechs terrify traditional banks: they’re disruptors.

“It’s not about money with them, it’s about influence,” says Celi. “Although [millennials] are of different ages they have common expectations, and they expect the wealth industry to interact with them in the same way something like Uber or Facebook does.”

To learn more about banking trends, join us at Bank Innovation Israel this November 1-3 in Tel Aviv. Learn more and register here.

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