The Future of Finance 2019

We look at changes that need to happen in 2019, if Financial Service providers can actually “provide” what you and I want.

The upcoming Future of Finance conference at Hurlingham London in a few weeks, is a landmark – a pointer in the sand if you will, a meeting place where key decision makers in the financial industry can meet to discuss well, where is their market going, and by implication, where are they themselves going?

There is a suspicion that actually, they are not going anywhere. This is reasonable or understandable. It is far easier to paper over the cracks, and this is seen in the way such organisations create “transformation teams”, but still retain the same people and attitudes;  change people’s job titles, play musical chairs with executives, or focus on costs savings – but still carrying the same methodology and still looking at costs instead of looking at efficiency. The two are not the same.

Yet there are two areas that can make a difference, and they simply require a cool look at how you and I behave. In particular; how do we prefer to access our financial info; and what sort of info do we want to have. 

Key vertical market in this, is the rise of the self-service private client – the guy who has savings but where the return on investment is nothing when compared to actual portfolio investment. Surely there are now sophisticated tools that can algorithm all this stuff for the man in the street? Indeed there are. The Tetralog company in Munich (as an example) focus on this sort of Robo Advisory that still retains the use of the face to face Advisor – but gives the client the info in a way he can understand and monitor, automatically. There is nothing worse than seeing graphically how your savings otherwise  are gradually deteriorating over time.

Equally important, is the tangential thinking that wakes up to the fact that, with mobile technology, we are all different now. The irony is that this is not a tech discussion, but a business discussion, by people who may not necessarily be financial – but who can spot how people want to work in the future. Richard Copland, formerly CGI Logica and now Partner at The Futureshapers told me; “ executives no longer have time to take a pause or have the courage to throw out legacy solutions, or legacy ideas”.

But throw things out, they must. And this includes being very open to new ways of doing things. 

We expect the winners in 2019 to be those organisations who are prepared to back their hunches, and the losers? Well, they will be the ones who carry on as before.

Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

And Let’s Help Set The Nation on Course For a Healthy 2030! We publish a great Post from the NEHI team (Network for Excellence inHealth Innovation) because it links innovation to achievable you and me health aims for the year. Based in Boston, USA- this is something we all can aspire gto. Great idea; this is what they say:

Every decade, the federal government’s Healthy People initiative develops a new set of science-based, 10-year national objectives with the goal of improving the health of all Americans.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is now soliciting written comments regarding the Healthy People 2030 objectives. The public comment period is now open through January 17, 2019.

Members of the public can comment on the proposed HP2030 objectives, and can also propose their own objectives. You can get more information on Healthy People 2030 and this public comment period by clicking here;

Previous public comments on the proposed Healthy People 2030 framework helped shape the vision, mission, foundational principles, plan of action, and overarching goals for Healthy People 2030. In this public comment period, HHS would like input on the proposed Core, Developmental, and Research objectives.

Please don’t miss this important chance to have input into this once-a-decade process to help shape the nation’s health goals!

In response to stakeholder input, Healthy People 2030 will be a streamlined set of national health objectives guiding the Nation in efforts to improve health. Heathy People 2030 will continue to represent critical public health priorities by addressing the leading causes of morbidity and mortality and driving action at the national, state, and local levels.

Again, Happy 2019!
The NEHI Team

Financials are changing. Is 2019 the Year of Wake Up?

As more and more high street stores close, what does it take for us to realise that our entire financial landscape is changing?

The man sits opposite me in one of Edinburgh’s posh hotels. He is CDO of one of Scotland’s. main finance tech  companies,  and says; “You know, Richard – young people – our Millenials – won’t go to brokers any more, as you and I might have done. Their app on their phone will do their search and recommending for them – and it will be more intuitive and better informed, than any independent adviser that you care to meet”

I am in Geneva and my colleague leans across; he is CEO of one of Switzerland’s main Consulting houses – and  almost conspiratorially he says; “Our Generation Z have no material aspirations or rather, do not see value in actually acquiring the objects of desire that has driven consumer manufacturing for so long.  Aspirational values will be what their peers think of what they do or how they do it – rather than the expensive object that their parents could have chosen.”

These two statements are either damaging – or opportunistic. It depends on how you want to see them. One of the reasons for the decline in our retail environment, is that said retailers have not woken up to the fact that their market has changed.  People are still spending money. They just don’t spend it on the same things as before, or rather, they do – but in a different way. 

But it goes deeper than that. It is a change in how our future generations see life, where you do not have to own a car to be able to “enjoy” driving  a car; where simply being able to “be” at a cool place, wherever that might be – is more important than your ability to fly biz class or your upgraded loyalty points.

Current forecasts are that we will all be eating out more, but what that means is that we will order in our food, and eat at home rather than actually “go” to a restaurant. dinner will be prepared on some industrial estate and wizzed to us by a guy on a bike.  I can’t think of anything more horrifying, but here I am at family dinner when my son wants to eat Italian and my daughter wants to have vegan and I want Chinese. 

Maybe it is time to stop crying over the demise of the High Street – and start to welcome the changes that can revolutionise our high street experience.  Because the one thing that is staying the same, is social contact. People are once again appreciating that actually getting together, is far better than purely relying on our social media giants for proper communication.  So maybe life is now a compromise of all  things hybrid. Because,  after all – even if we eat different food – we have to eat it somewhere, and we will get our mortgage and buy our shares etc, from the nice lady hologram  on our mobile phone as we eat.

Lucia Di Lammermoor. A Story for Our Times


We review the English National Opera first night of this dramatic Donizetti masterpiece and say that – in the “MeToo” current world,  this is a production you have to see.

There are academic articles and opinions of the role of women and heroines and Prima Donnas in Opera, into which the creation of “Lucia” as an Opera, is designed to play a part.  This comment is not one of those. If you “get” that the fusion of music, and drama, is the key entry into deeper areas of  our soul – then the standout performance of Sarah Tynan as “Lucia” is one of the most phenomenal performances I have ever seen in all my years of watching opera.  This is a performance that you have to see, and you must say to your grandchildren that “you were there”.

How so?

Because Sarah’s interpretation rises above the protagonists around her, the wall of never decreasing orchestral and chorus support. It is a tour de force because right from the start, there was never any gentle introduction. There is angst even from the first scene. There was never going to be a happy ending.

This feeling of tragic helplessness, is enhanced by the oversized dimensions of the staging, with Lucia deliberately petite, vulnerable.

This “Lucia di Lamermoor” is drama supported by music. In many ways, the music never reaches the heights of melody of Mozart – or better insight into human nature of say Puccini, or Berlioz – and at times I just wished there was a melody that I could remember on the tube train back to my hotel. The music frequently pauses and moves into one aria after another, but it is not until the last Act does Lucia’s aria steal the show, so to say.

But this misses the point.

This production, particularly with Eleazar Rodriguez complementing Sarah with visible chemistry, is about drama and human emotion. It is riveting. At no point does the intensity ever stop, and at no time does audience appreciation ever waver. 

If you asked random people in the street, who would be their favourite composer – the name of Donizetti would hardly figure. And this is a pity. “Lucia” portrays humanity and the female situation, in a way that has hardly changed even now. I am going back to see this again – and so should you.

ENO; OPERA FOR ALL. It has always been thus…


We look with pleasure and amazement at the past 50 years of English National Opera  at their Gala Performance earlier this week.


I am fifteen years old. My cousin – who is at least five years older and a real Student – calls me. “Hey – I have two tickets for The Mastersingers. Wanna come?”


I don’t know what a Mastersinger is – and I say so. “It’s an Opera”, he says. I don’t know what one of those is either, but now is not the time for that discussion. “Sure” – I say: – “I’ll come straight from school”. The performance starts at 5pm apparently. It means catching the suburban bus, the local train into london, the tube to Islington. The place is somewhere called Sadlers Wells.


I hadn’t given much thought to this. Only when I got to the opera venue did I realise that The Mastersingers is some five hours long. It means hitching a ride back home through London. A local taxi picked me up somewhere in the street as I started walking. I’m sure there are laws about this sort of thing nowadays. I told my Mum the next morning I had a wonderful time.


I didn’t have a wonderful time. I had a change of life experience. I saw people singing and creating a life ambience – from nothing. I felt emotions I never knew existed. I discovered I could go to the pub on the corner and buy a shandy, no questions-asked. I could wear my jeans at somewhere posh. I could visualise a new musical dimension.


My cousin called me some 50 years later. “Did you get those tickets for the new production of The Mastersingers?.” This time, we are the ENO Coliseum, the grandeur, the sense of a journey as the orchestra starts to play – has not lost any of its ability to stir up excitement.


And that is the secret of ENO Opera for All. Once you walk through that door – there is no turning back.


The idea espoused by the current ENO Management that this is some new concept – is beautiful in its outreach, but it misses the point that ENO was always this. The only difference is not concept but one of scale.


The ENO Gala Performance brought together established Artists, but also showcased the upcoming Harewood Performers, who are every bit as exhilarating, – and finally focussing on the latest ENO prodigy who is still at School just finishing GCSEs. The future of ENO belongs to the new people, who are young enough to have completely new ideas and ambitions, better and newer communication skills.


Key at ENO is to be the Family. The Drop Off point at whatever stop you have reached on your opera journey. This is not a London based chic concept for SW1 – this is for pan -UK.


I sat next to two people at the Gala, who by total chance are the neighbours to my Music Professor when I was at Uni. We had never met before, but it was like a meeting of old friends, the strands of common ground, across different generations.


I took a moment of thought; if only my new neighbours in the Stalls had been there all those fifty years ago – perhaps they could have given me a ride home?
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Can We Celebrate 70 Years of the NHS?


As increasing numbers of ordinary people move away from this cherished institution – we ask the question – why do they do so?

This is not about private medicine and public services. The UK NHS and its principle guardian of healthcare – free to all – at the point of delivery – is the cornerstone of just about every UK and European belief that healthcare is a public right – not something that you only get if you can afford it.

Fair enough.

The problem is when you put that into practice for the ordinary lives of people like you and I. The principle might be ok but – well, if other places are offering something better, and its within our price range, we are going to choose whatever that something else is.

And so they do.

At the recent Employee Benefit Fair in London just a couple of weeks ago, of the 115 Exhibitors, some 30% were all offering private walk in Doctors facilities.  And the services they were offering were better, than their NHS counterparts, particularly in areas that can be monitored remotely by smart technology on the wrist of all of us. As the provision of healthcare moves away from hospitals into a more community based environment, if for just a few bucks a  month, say you can have your diabetes monitored every day, in real time – or your heart and blood pressure similarly managed – does it matter that you never get to see a real Nurse?  All you want is the Nurse to call you when things look wrong – and for you to be able to drop by as you pass thru the local train station en route to work.

So why do so few NHS Hospitals and CCGs want to adopt similar practices?

The problem is twofold; if we can  solve a specific problem, with  technology, using half the nurses – then we can schedule the remaining nurses somewhere else where there is a greater need. Except that clinical grass roots staff have a fear of change and a fear of losing their job. And Managers have a fear of losing their nurses – and their silo based budgets.  As long as they have lots of people coming through those hospital doors – the money will keep rolling in.

And second – we regularly get emails and responses from NHS senior Managers saying;  “Sure, come by for a conversation, but not for a conversation that means we have to do something”. There is this misplaced belief among so many NHS Managers that as things have always been done this way – then life will continue to be done this way.

Not any more.  

We are seeing already that the public is voting with its feet. Sure, its a small beginning – but its a beginning none the less. As a senior more enlightened NHS Director told me – “we cannot keep trying to squeeze 100 appointments into the time reserved for only 40”.

There will become a time, sooner rather than later, when the public itself will start to wonder why they are paying any money for public healthcare at all. By then of course, it will be too late.

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IS DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION MISSING THE POINT?

We focus on the upcoming IP Expo Europe Conference at Excel London  and ask the question – are consumers being left behind? 

If so, this would be a pity. It is no coincidence that IP Expo Europe is just a few days before the Chinese IRC Retail Conference also in London, whose view is;  With the challenge of slowing retail sales, international expansion is key to maintaining double-digit growth.

The emergence of the Chinese eCommerce market, in a country whose GDP is constantly growing, is a clear opportunity to Re:Generate retail. Today’s QiXi day – the Chinese equivalent to Valentine’s day – is poised to generate record growth in international eCommerce sales. In other words, ECOMMERCE can drive retail.

The problem is, that’s not how ordinary people are viewing this. It’s not just Consumers, although there is  a dawn of realisation in the minds of the general public that the great benefit of online retail might also be killing the social high street that binds society together.  Maybe going shopping wasn’t so bad after all?  When one third of all the things that people buy online, are routinely returned to their sender – and there are more charity shops than thriving retailers – perhaps we are missing something in the way we describe and market “digital transformation”. Transformation might not necessarily be for the better.

The same feeling is also spreading into our public sectors; increasingly we are seeing new “digital transformation” labelled projects, that are little more than typing our patient records into someone’s Windows 7 desktop.  The NHS has “ringfenced” (oh please, don’t be naive) – money for “digital transformation” that will simply throw money at projects its hospitals were going to do anyway.  Digital Transformation is great PR.

At a time when emails no longer carry the same immediacy as they originally did – and it is now better to communicate sending something called a Letter in the mail – are we missing the point in thinking that everybody of course knows what blockchain is? Or are we blinded by selling technology to ourselves, when we are forgetting that what people want are the benefits of said technology? What that  technology is  – is irrelevant.

And that’s the point. IP Expo Europe  is not addressing consumers. It is a platform for the vendors of said technology, to show us the best ways of delivering business benefit.  We as “consumers” of technology should know how to translate that into something our own customers will understand. But to get there – we need the face to face, the casual conversation, the in depth presentation – with our peers – that will show us better ways to get where we ourselves need to go.

This may in turn reflect back into our struggling retail market, as long as it is a catalyst for methodology change, marketing people to get together. In short, the key to overall success, is a mix of the two -ECOMMERCE drives face to face retail.

We expect the greater awareness of vendors and delegates at IP Expo Europe will bear fruit in the change in the way vendors market what they do, and organisations handle their consumer data, in particular, becoming more open to international business – which will in turn drive the very retail sectors that are under pressure. 

If so, then Digital Transformation can start to create social good in the very areas that have been left behind.