Don’t Count Incumbents Out of the Innovation Race Just Yet

  • Grace Noto
  • May 12, 2017
  • 0

Innovation is a young company’s game, right?

Well, not according to the incumbents.

Established financial players are aware of the need for a “digital rebirth,” according to Kathleen Murphy, president for personal investing at Fidelity Investments.

“We invest a lot in fintech, in startups of varying sizes, to help spur innovation,” said Murphy, during a fireside chat at the Benzinga Fintech Awards show yesterday. “The business of financial service is really a business of technology.”

Traditional financial companies, such as Fidelity, are definitely taking a part in the “buzz” of fintech, according to Murphy.

This perspective was reflected by more incumbents as the event progressed. Kelli Keough, global head of digital wealth for JPMorgan Chase, noted during a panel with other noted fintechs, such as Prosper and Ameritrade, that “big doesn’t mean slow.”

In fact, “big” might actually be a benefit when it comes to certain innovation needs—like bankrolling fintech spend, for instance. Chase, according to Keough, currently has a $10 billion technology budget.

Quite a number, and certainly one that most startups would be unable to match. Another benefit, at least from the perspectives of these incumbents, might be the banking culture. While established firms should certainly prepare for a “digital rebirth,” it doesn’t mean they should entirely gut their business model or do away with all of the traditional facets of their corporate structure.

Murphy, whose decades of work in finance gained her Benzinga’s “lifetime achievement” award, also spoke to the need for incumbents to keep the stability crafted over years of business.

“There are certain things, values that are intrinsic to who we are that can’t change,” Murphy said during the event, adding that those values “are immutable.”

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