FundsTech panel: Transformation and "exponential change"

Increase graphAt a time of exponential change in society and technology, it is difficult for people and businesses to orientate themselves. This is even true of university professors that are experts in the relevant fields, acknowledges Professor Deeph Chana of Imperial College, London.

Professor Chana, who is co-director of Imperial’s Institute for Security Science and Technology, recently took part in a Funds Europe/FundsTech virtual panel that discussed transformation in the financial services industry and beyond.

Martyn Cuff, CFO/COO at Square Mile Investment Consulting & Research, hosted the panel and in it he considers whether exponential change – or “change on steroids” – would mean the term “financial services industry” might not exist in years to come should actors in other sectors beat bankers and fund managers to the opportunities stemming from technology.

Among further topics, our panel discussed who the winners and losers might be from this period of change.

Petra Roche, client relations and projects at Metrosoft, says winners could be members of society that currently do not have access to financial services. They are being aided, she says, by some organisations that have looked beyond the purely commercial elements of exponential technologies and are using these technologies to catalyse social change, which includes financial inclusion.

But she adds that more companies – as well as individuals - will first have to re-orientate themselves to anticipate, adapt, and adjust to the rapid changes.

Adam Belding, chief technology officer at Calastone, says companies that do adapt would find themselves able to offer investors the kind of transparency they might expect, including the ability for clients to align investments with their beliefs.

But he also warns that the balance of power in the tech sphere – essentially between governments, retail investors and highly sophisticated investors - could be so out of kilter that retail investors may find they are cut off from accessing the kinds of returns that private equity and hedge fund groups can access.

Professor Chana says outcomes will depend on the human input.

“Where the human comes in, [this] is up for us to decide what kind of financial system we want to build, and then use the technology to build that. The technology on its own is not going to build a fairer or a worse financial system. We have to decide what we’re going to do with it, and we are at a point now where the technology can really help us to move in a positive direction - but it can also lead us to double down and create a far less equitable world than we have now.”

The panel also discusses cybersecurity and the technologies whose impact has been either hyped, or underappreciated.

Watch the 45-minute video panel below.

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