Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category


What to expect at Finovate Spring 2013

May 13, 2013

Great pre-show post from Finovate.



Top 10 Best Banking Blogs

November 8, 2012

(Via The Financial Brand) Congratulations to all of the winners in The Financial Brand’s Best Banking Blog poll. I am honored to count several of the winners amongst my friends. It is a group of smart, kind and funny people– what more could you want?

1. JD Power & Associates Banking Blog – @JDPowerBanking

2. Snarketing 2.0 – Ron Shevlin —  @rshevlin

3. ACTON’s Financial Marketing Insights – @ACTON_Marketing

4. Bank Marketing Strategies – Jim Marous  @JimMarous

5. –  @bankingdotcom

6. CU Insight – Randy Smith @CUinsight

7. Bank Innovation – @BankInnovation

8. Netbanker –  @netbanker

9. GonzoBanker –  @GonzoBanker

10. Financial Services Club Blog – @FSClub

Congratulations as well to the Write-Ins & Other Honorable Mentions, along with the nominees, where I again am fortunate to recognize another great group of smart, kind and funny people I call friends. I am also humbled and grateful to even be mentioned in their company.

Again, from The Financial Brand, Write-Ins & Other Honorable Mentions:

Read the entire article, including links to representative posts from the winners at The Financial Brand: Top 10 Best Banking Blogs – Readers Choice 2012 Winners | The Financial Brand: Marketing Insights for Banks & Credit Unions.

Other nominees:


Five Shifts that Define the New Era for Wealth Management

November 6, 2012

(This post was also published today on the blog of my consulting firm clientific,  follow me there too.)

Five massive foundational shifts are impacting financial service providers of all types, and they are impacting those that serve affluent clients in especially unique ways. Many of the strategies, skills and behaviors that enabled success in the past are now at best ineffective, and completely irrelevant in some cases. Advisors and firms serving affluent clients must adapt to these new realities to be successful in the future.

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” 

— General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, U. S. Army

The first shift is economic. The global financial crisis begun in 2008 is still having a long-term impact on the creation, growth and preservation of wealth. Today’s low growth, low yield environment will likely stick with us for some time, and today’s advisors have to be able to help their clients navigate the realities of the new economy. Firms cannot count on rising portfolio values to increase revenues.

The second shift is regulatory. Partially as a result of the financial meltdown, central banks and regulators all over the world are the in middle of redefining the rules and regulations that today’s financial advisors will likely have to live by for the rest of their careers. Some of the important revenue streams of the past have been curtailed or eliminated—think overdraft fees, payday loans, interchange fees, some mortgage fees, etc. And we are not even close to done, as of October 1, 2012 only one-third of the provisions of Dodd-Frank had been finalized, and another third have not yet even been proposed.

The third shift is demographic. Various research projects that anywhere from $18 Trillion and $56 Trillion of financial wealth will be passing down from the Traditionalist and Baby Boomer generations to their Generation X and Generation Y children and grandchildren over the next several years. Gen X and Gen Y could have a combined wealth that exceeds that of the Baby Boomers as early as 2018, and they do not want “their father’s Oldsmobile”. Even with the more conservative estimates, this is a huge threat for those advisors and firms who don’t adapt to the changes. And it is a massive opportunity for those that do.

The fourth shift is competitive. The global financial crisis caused the weakest firms to disappear while the biggest and strongest got bigger and stronger. (In some cases, only bigger.) It is more important than ever for smaller firms to differentiate themselves in ways that are really relevant. Simply being “the bank” of, say Cozad, for example is no longer enough.

The fifth shift is technological. The tools are already here to radically improve client intimacy and client engagement. The rapid adoption of the iPad and other tablets give wealth managers the opportunity to change the dynamics of the across-the-desk transaction into the shoulder-to-shoulder collaboration that really engages the client. Big data and analytics give firms the power to better understand client behaviors and preferences, if they bother to listen. Social media opens up whole new avenues of client contact.

The challenge will be for firms to adopt the right strategies and then have the discipline to execute. As in every era, we will have winners and we will have losers, and success will go to those who embrace the possibilities of the future while staying relevant to their clients.

You might also like:

Wealth Management 3.0 is Here, Are You Ready?

The Convergence of High Tech and High Touch in Wealth Management

© 2012 JP Nicols. All rights reserved.


Improving Client Engagement with Technology

October 18, 2012

Readers of this blog know that my primary focus is the convergence of high-tech and high-touch that I believe IS the future of wealth management. I think Balance Financial gets this better than most fintech firms, and that is why I am proud to serve on their Advisory Board. Read on…

Balance Financial Inc.

A great article caught our eye the other day over at  It was an interview with Sungard Investment Systems President Daniel Bardini.  Sungard works with financial services firms around the country providing various technology solutions to private banking institutions.

Daniel made some great points that we thought were worth repeating.  Check out the video yourself, it is pretty quick:

Here are some of the highlights

According to Bardini, the future is about “engaging clients in new ways, more interactive.”  Further, “traditionally banks invested in back office.  This is more and more a commodity.  Focus is moving to front end tools that support relationship managers on interactions with clients.”

And finally, “Relationship managers struggle to get a 360 degree view of clients.  Need new ways of engaging clients.”

We could not agree more.  The core investments made in Private Banking and wealth management over the last several years…

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Learning from Customers in Social Media

October 16, 2012

I was recently interviewed by BAI Banking Strategies on the evolving use of social media in banking and wealth management.

Here is an excerpt from the article, which was published yesterday:

Nicols, a former executive with Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, agrees that social media can warn financial institutions of potential problems. “You ought to be happy when a client is complaining because you’re learning something,” he says.

Young customers are more likely to be influenced by what their peers do than older customers, which, in turn, highlights the potential for social media, Nicols says. He cited the example of a customer who had a problem with his bank that was successfully resolved, which led to an enthusiastic recommendation of the bank to other consumers in social media. “There are whole businesses built on peer recommendations, such as Yelp,” which posts online customer reviews of businesses, from restaurants to bank branches, Nicols says.

Banks also have to use the right channels to respond to customer inquiries, Nicols adds, citing an occasion when a CEO of a technology company tweeted the bank that he wanted to talk to someone about a mortgage. The marketing department, which received the tweet and didn’t know how to respond, sent an email to Nicols, who immediately tweeted the executive. “Customers are giving you signals about how they want to interact and you need to pick up on those signals – or lose business,” he says.

Read the whole article here: BAI Retail Strategies


Wealthfront rolls out yet another tool for the newly Valley rich

October 15, 2012

Another interesting example of disruption in the wealth management business.


Finovate Fall 2012 Best of Show Winners

September 17, 2012

Another Finovate conference is in the books. The Best of Show winners included MoneyDesktop, one of the companies on my watch list for accelerating the convergence of high tech and high touch, and one that should have been on my list, but had eluded my foresight (Learnvest).


New York welcomed the Finovate road show to town with weather was so perfect that it faded into the background like a perfect picture frame. For the most part, the show graced the perfect frame beautifully, with attractive and engaging interfaces being the rule. So much so that Aite analyst and Snarketing 2.0 blogger Ron Shevlin mused about the attendees being “SedUIced”  by interfaces over business impact.

It’s a shame that intermittent WiFi and cell coverage inside the hall occasionally defaced the exhibition with digital graffiti. If I hadn’t known that Javits Convention Center has distanced itself from its early reputation as a patronage mill for the mob, I would have thought that a few of the exhibitors had spurned pre-show shakedowns behind the dumpsters. (“It would be a real shame if that pretty app of yours somehow couldn’t connect to the network right in the middle of your demo…”)

Making the Complex Simple

A wise CFO I once worked with proclaimed that were two kinds of people in the world, those that make the complex simple, and those that make the simple complex.

There weren’t too many in the latter camp, the Finovate team screens and coaches demonstrators well. Still, a few seemed to have slapped technology onto a convoluted process and/or addressed an irrelevant problem; or as someone tweeted– solved problems no one has with technology no one wants. There were (only) a few moments that felt like SharkTank, and I secretly wished for the schadenfreude of a venture capitalist throwing a cold glass of reality on the smoldering embers of a bad idea.

But the majority of the demos addressed relevant problems and simplified the complex with good design, and most appropriately recognized mobile as a significant front in the fintech wars.

All of the Best of Show winners (in alphabetic order):

  • Credit SesameMint and LendingTree had a very good looking baby. Credit-centric PFM with recommendations for managing debt.
  • Dashlane addressed the sometimes laborious process of filling out multiple fields for e-commerce checkout with a single solution for any vendor on any platform.
  • Dynamics showed a payment card with a built-in switch that enables customers to choose multiple payment sources. (Parenthetically, I “invented” this a few years ago in an ideation session. I also “invented” BetaMax when I was nine. And flying suits.)
  • eToro had an impressive demo of a pretty product that I happen to categorically reject. Their CopyTrader technology enables stock traders to harness the “wisdom” of the crowds in their own gambling, er, trading. It was a definite crowd favorite, but I have seen the prequels “Internet Stocks” (1999) and “Real Estate” (2007). They were both gripping thrillers with horrible endings.
  • LearnVest was a glaring omission from my pre-show list of three firms to watch. The firm and it’s founder and CEO Alexa von Tobel have been getting much well-deserved press, and their latest contribution to the convergence of high-tech and high-touch includes the ability to collaborate with a financial planner.
  • MoneyDesktop repeated as a back to back winner. Their patent-pending “bubble budgets” provide a nice graphical representation of budget items and they continue to refine their ecosystem with synching iPad, smartphone and desktop apps.
  • PayTap offered a slick and apparently effective solution for paying shared bills via multiple payment sources and social networks. They also pitched it as a way to make it easier when you are asked to help pay someone else’s bill. I’m looking for the blacklist feature on that one…
  • ShopKeep POS enables merchants to run a store from an iPad. Another great example of making the complex simple, with a great interface.

All in all, another great show full of smart people and innovative ideas, and another reminder that we are still in the early stages of disruptive technology in financial services.

This is really starting to get good.

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