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2008 in review

As the year draws to a close, Finextra takes a look back at our most-read news stories for each month of 2008. We also list the most popular blog posts on the Finextra Community, and the most popular...

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Can You See the Future: Predicting Top 2009 Headlines

If you want to see experts scramble, ask for a prediction, wait 12 months and then go back for comments on why and how they got it wrong. Let’s face it expertise is no guarantee when it comes to predicting the future. The world is unpredictable because people are unpredictable and despite what all of us egocentric human types believe—the world is not all about us, unless of course you are looking at the world of business and the economy that drives it. 

The economy as defined by my buddies at Wikipedia is a “social system of production, exchange, distribution, and consumption of goods and services of a country or other are.”  Since the economy is a manmade construct, you would think our track record for predicting what will or will not happen in this system would be pretty good.  Unfortunately as 2008 proved, that is not always the case. So to avoid adding my name to a long list of prognosticators, futurists and analysts who will be scrambling to explain their predictions come January 2010, I’m not posting any predictions here {but yes, I did make some predictions}.  Instead I’m focusing my efforts on the three words—based on a technology-centric perspective of course—that I think will shape and dominate the headlines in 2009. 

Global—We’ve all seen over the past year that the world economy really is global.  By extension that means that an economic crisis is also global.  The meltdown in Iceland was not caused solely by the collapse of the Icelandic banking structure but also by the shocks to the system that left it isolated and unable to secure refinancing of its short-term debt by the rest of the world.  With more than a half million depositors (more than the entire population of Iceland) located outside its borders, Iceland’s troubles spread quickly to the rest of Europe and the globe.  Now I’m not picking on Iceland but simply using them as an example to show how quickly a National issue becomes a global one.  So in 2009 I fully expect that the word “global” will appear in a high percentage of headlines as we gain a better understanding of how interconnected and interdependent our banking relationships truly are.  And with an increased focus on our global dependencies, you’ll also see a focus on technologies that have demonstrable cross-border reach, global support and flexibility.  Oops…drifted into marketing speak for a minute but what I really mean is—banks and bankers are going to be looking for solutions that keep them connected to the industry and to the world at large.  Which brings up the second word, I expect to see a lot in 2009….transparency.

Transparency—Now that we have seen what happens when no one is really paying attention to the big picture, I fully expect that a major buzz word for 2009 will be transparency.  It will no longer be sufficient for a bank to be able to look at the information around a single account or even a single market to forecast trends and shore up vulnerabilities.  No in 2009, everyone will be looking to see as far and as much as they possibly can of the financial supply chain even in cases where they don’t know what they need or how they will use the information once they get it.  The push will not be to be ready to mine all the data but rather to make sure that they are prepared just in case the information is needed and let’s be serious you’re not going to do any real data mining manually. So technology will be key as banks look for solutions that can securely, reliability and of course, quickly track transactions end-to-end.   Transparency will be the watch word as the financial world waits for the shoe to drop on compliance.  Which is, of course, the third word that I expect will dominate the headlines in 2009.

Compliance—Regulations, regulations and more regulations will be a central theme in 2009 which should come as no surprise to anyone who has read a newspaper over the past 6-12 months.  The financial services industry has been caught with its proverbial pants down and now the world powers are asking—more like demanding—greater control.  And I can’t say that I blame them.  The G20 countries have poured billions of dollars into the financial industry and in 2009 they will be flexing some muscle on how the industry uses it.   Some analysts are already predicting that new regulations will be in place by the end of the first quarter which I think is ambitious given the relatively glacial pace of most global regulations.  But with the eyes of the world on the financial services industry, we might see changes enacted more swiftly than ever before.  The work on Basel II, the adoption of IFRS and even the influence of the World Bank…everything is on the table right now because no one knows what it will take to turn things around and prevent further pain.

I’m sure that not everyone will agree with my three words… which is fine.  The floor is open so add to the list but give your reasons why.  If the focus won’t be on compliance; where will it be?  Come on make a prediction, you will be in great company—Gartner, NY Times, the Huffington Post – even if you’re wrong.


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Financial Supply Chain

In the world of international trade, the process of exchanging payments, information and documents between buyers, sellers, banks, and other involved parties is becoming increasingly important for financial institutions. This community aims at presenting views and innovative ideas related to this financial supply chain space.

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