Voted #6 on Top 100 Family Business Influencers, most influential expert on Wealth, Finance and Investments: Jacoline Loewen LinkedIn Profile

October 19, 2017

What's the most exciting technology on your radar?

It has been a week of technology here in Toronto with SIBOS, CIX and the UBS Future of Finance Awards Dinner.

One of the questions I got to ask our finalists of the UBS Future of Finance was their views on cryptocurrencies and banking fintechs impact on banks. Our UBS COO, Axel Lehmann, spoke about this topic too. Axel Lehmann said,
I truly believe that whole question of robotics and artificial intelligence over a time horizon of four to eight years will fundamentally change the banking business. As banks, we understand that our business is all about data. These technologies have the potential to really fundamentally change the way we operate in terms of getting smarter with the customer, understanding what kind of products we should offer and so on. That is definitely exciting.

I post on Twitter the question: What is the most exciting technology on your radar. One of the best answers came from Roman Monaenkov @roma_odin  who said his answer was Etherium - the cryptocurrency. Do I sense a little bias as Vitalik is also Russian and here in Toronto.

Here is the fantastic video sent by Roman which features Vitalik Buterin, one of the founders of Etherium.  Vitalik is speaking as the keynote speaker at MaRS explaining cryptocurrency in a thorough and understandable presentation.


Vitalak Buterin, speaking about Etherium and cryptocurrency at MaRS, Toronto.

Follow on Twitter @jacolineloewen

True change in Banking is really coming from outside the industry - Fintechs

Visiting Toronto for SIBOS, Axel Lehmann, chief operating officer of UBS, carved out time to speak at The National Club. During his talk, Mr. Lehmann delved into financial technology – or 'fintech' – and how UBS is engaging with this exciting technology.

Here is an excerpt from a recent interview between Business Insider and Mr. Lehmann which gives a summary of the topics Axel covered here in Toronto. Read full interview here. 
While no lender wants to become the next Nokia or Kodak, crushed by an innovation they failed to properly understand, it's not always clear how an organization with 100,000 employees should deal with the threats and opportunities posed by fintech.

Ben Moshinsky: Where are the main threats and opportunities to UBS from the fintech boom?

Axel Lehmann: True change is really coming from outside the industry. That is the key challenge we face as of today. The whole fintech discussion has changed, we have moved on from discussing whether a revolution is taking place, and how the banks will become redundant, to a place where most banks are looking at collaborative efforts with other firms. This is why most of what we do in terms of technological development we do in partnership with fintech companies.

It’s less the technology, as such, providing a transformative element in the banking industry. It’s really alternative business models that have the potential to shake up everything and eat into our cake.

We have a legacy infrastructure which can be regarded as a liability, but it’s also an asset

It is also full of opportunities. We, the banks, are operating from a position of strength from a customer perspective especially in terms of the amount of customer interaction, the know-how we can provide, and the services we can offer. You can’t create any of this overnight.

And secondly, we have a legacy infrastructure which can be regarded as a liability, but it’s also an asset. When the Trump election got through, for example, volatility was high. We have an infrastructure that can scale up in line with volatility, and that’s something you need to have.

So, in this regard, I’m personally optimistic. It’s easier, when you look to consumer industries, for example, Uber or WhatsApp, to disrupt a lightly regulated sector. But when you look at where we as banks are, you get into the highly regulated space immediately, when you talk about balance sheet and liquidity, and this makes this industry less easy to disrupt.
But no doubt, we still do have to be mindful that we’re not losing out on some of that less regulated space, particularly at the point of customer interaction.

BM: What's the most exciting technology on your radar?
AL: I truly believe that whole question of robotics and artificial intelligence over a time horizon of four to eight years will fundamentally change the banking business. As banks, we understand that our business is all about data. These technologies have the potential to really fundamentally change the way we operate in terms of getting smarter with the customer, understanding what kind of products we should offer and so on. That is definitely exciting.
Business Insider then asked about how UBS is interacting with fintech. Mr. Lehmann explains the Future of Finance Challenge which was run around the globe. Out of the 11 regional finalists in the Americas, Canada has 5 companies going to New York. It shows that Canada has a dynamic fintech industry.
Here is the article again:

BM: How does a bank, like UBS with tens of thousands of employees, interact with a fintech startup of just a few people? What kind of cultural changes need to happen
AL: Dealing with fintechs is a cultural shift that needs to take place and you want to have the local people to innovate. At UBS we have a systematic process on how we expose ourselves to fintech companies. For example, we have a series of initiatives that we’re driving, such as our Future of Finance Challenge. This competition, which is happening at the moment, provides a forum for start-ups and growing companies to come and present their ideas to compete for support from UBS to
Axel and Sophie Perceval, Wondereur, award for Future of Finance
accelerate their ideas. That’s the type of work we’re doing. We really want to take advantage of some of those fast-moving and smaller boats with great ideas and great software that we can scale up and use in our organisation.


BM: Is competition for those boats fierce? How do you make sure you invest enough time and money?
AL: UBS has a CHF2.1 billion net saving target, but nevertheless our IT spend is at a record level of more than 10% of revenues. We do not sacrifice mid-term and longer term development to make numbers for a quarter. Secondly, if you look to our overall positioning it is quite unique, and that gives me confidence. We’re the global leader in wealth management, which is one of the key areas to invest in digital. Every dollar we invest there, hopefully wisely, is helping us strengthen that franchise.

Jacoline Loewen, Future of Finance Awards Dinner
The Five Finalists for the Future of Finance from Canada are:

Global-Regulations
MindBridge
Overbond
Veriday
Wondereur

October 15, 2017

How to leave a legacy - Cathedral Approach

From the magazine Unlimited, they have a fascinating story on how to leave a great legacy and the lessons come from looking at how cathedrals were built in the middle ages. I also wrote an article for the Globe and Mail on Cathedral building and how similar it is to building a business in that each generation adds a wing or a tower and then passes it along to the next generation to continue the vision. Some cathedrals took hundreds of years to complete which is hard to imagine. I am complaining about Eglinton Avenue and the time to build the subway so it does make me realize that time is relative.

I will post my article below but here is the article from Unlimited and the link to the full article.
We are entering an era of Cathedral Wealth, where the most meaningful thing that you can hand down to the next generation is no longer a watch or family estate, but a grand challenge, a life’s work or a multi-generational task.
In the Middle Ages, building a cathedral to honour God was considered one of the greatest works that a community could undertake. Everyone from heads of state and religious leaders to architects, craftsmen and labourers joined together to create these monumental structures.
Building a cathedral was an endeavour of such scale that they would often take decades or even centuries to finish. The people that laid the foundations would do so in the almost certain knowledge that they would never live to see the finished product.
Today, at a time when the future of mankind has never looked more complex and uncertain, we are increasingly realising that our biggest questions may require multi-generational answers.
‘Modernity has pulled us into an era of short-termism and individualism,’ says Rachel Armstrong, senior TED fellow and founder of Black Sky Thinking.
‘However, the biggest issues facing humanity, such as climate change, over-population and energy and resource shortages, require us to think in terms of solutions that will span generations.’
Like the craftsmen that laid the first stones at St Paul’s, St Basil’s and Notre Dame, today’s leading scientists, business leaders and creative innovators are beginning to think in terms of a new kind of wealth – the handing down of purposeful and life-affirming projects that only their grandchildren, or even great-grandchildren, will see bear fruit.
‘In the past, your legacy would have been much more about handing down tangible assets, such as cash and bricks and mortar,’ says Ken Forster, angel investor and managing director of Internet of Things solutions company Momenta Partners.
‘Today, it’s about a more organic, more sustainable wealth transfer – leaving your life’s work, something you created, unfinished, and trusting those who follow you to see it through to completion.’
In this report, we examine how Cathedral Wealth and long-termism are beginning to emerge in society in three pivotal ways.
: Creative Cathedrals – the multi-generational projects that are shaping the future of science, technology and design
: Commercial Cathedrals – how the world of business is moving its sights from the next quarter to the next decade and even the next century
: Cultural Cathedrals  why our fascination with long-term cathedral wealth is driving the emergence of new forms of art and culture that will be enjoyed by future generations

UBS COO Axel Lehmann on fintech: Banking jobs 'will completely change'

This week, our COO for UBS Global is flying in from Zurich and will join us for an evening with the five Canadian fintechs heading to New York for the finals. We will be handing out awards to the companies this Wednesday and Axel Lehmann, our COO will be there to talk fintech.
Here is an excerpt from an interview with Axel by Business Insider. I am impressed by Axel and how he is leading UBS into fintech. 
LONDON – Of all the challenges faced by leaders of large investment banks, the growth of the financial technology industry, or fintech, is unique.
Since the 2008 financial crisis, fintech startups have boomed, making quick ground on a banking industry struggling to cope with new financial rules and legacy tech systems.
Unlike challenges such as Brexit, low global growth, and interest rates, fintech's impact is hard to predict and quantify for banks.
It has the potential to totally disrupt established business models or boost productivity and profitability. Or perhaps do both at the same time.
While no lender wants to become the next Nokia or Kodak, crushed by an innovation they failed to properly understand, it's not always clear how an organization with 100,000 employees should deal with the threats and opportunities posed by fintech.
Business Insider chatted with Axel Lehmann, chief operating officer of Swiss bank UBS, to ask how the organisation is coming to terms with fast-changing world of fintech.
Ben Moshinsky: Where are the main threats and opportunities to UBS from the fintech boom?
Axel Lehmann: True change is really coming from outside the industry. That is the key challenge we face as of today. The whole fintech discussion has changed, we have moved on from discussing whether a revolution is taking place, and how the banks will become redundant, to a place where most banks are looking at collaborative efforts with other firms. This is why most of what we do in terms of technological development we do in partnership with fintech companies.
I don’t want to get blindsided. It’s less the technology, as such, providing a transformative element in the banking industry. It’s really alternative business models that have the potential to shake up everything and eat into our cake.
We have a legacy infrastructure which can be regarded as a liability, but it’s also an asset
It is also full of opportunities. We, the banks, are operating from a position of strength from a customer perspective especially in terms of the amount of customer interaction, the know-how we can provide, and the services we can offer. You can’t create any of this overnight.
And secondly, we have a legacy infrastructure which can be regarded as a liability, but it’s also an asset. When the Trump election got through, for example, volatility was high. We have an infrastructure that can scale up in line with volatility, and that’s something you need to have.
So, in this regard, I’m personally optimistic. It’s easier, when you look to consumer industries, for example, Uber or WhatsApp, to disrupt a lightly regulated sector. But when you look at where we as banks are, you get into the highly regulated space immediately, when you talk about balance sheet and liquidity, and this makes this industry less easy to disrupt.
But no doubt, we still do have to be mindful that we’re not losing out on some of that less regulated space, particularly at the point of customer interaction.
BM: What's the most exciting technology on your radar?
AL: I truly believe that whole question of robotics and artificial intelligence over a time horizon of four to eight years will fundamentally change the banking business. As banks, we understand that our business is all about data. These technologies have the potential to really fundamentally change the way we operate in terms of getting smarter with the customer, understanding what kind of products we should offer and so on. That is definitely exciting.
BM: How will that affect headcount in big banks? Will bankers need new skills?
AL: I think it’s always that question, that people understandably want to ask, about possible headcount reductions. We were here 50 years ago when UBS was the first to roll out an ATM in Europe. The press was then speculating about how that would eliminate all the tellers and the branch network. Now history shows that this hasn’t really happened. In reality branch staff started to have different forms of customer service opportunities and I think the same will happen now more broadly in banking.
The more you implement robotics and automation, that will in part substitute processes that humans are doing today.
The jobs and the job profiles will completely change. Technology, and it’s my deep conviction, will support and complement the human capabilities. Of course, if I’m a retail customer with $10,000 to invest I might decide to do it all via a machine, but if I have seven figures I will need somebody to help me, to provide expert advice, and so the vital role of the relationship advisor definitely won’t disappear. Banking will stay a people's business.
So I don’t want to speculate if we have more or less people. We’ll have different jobs and the skill levels of those people will be different. Of course, there will likely be eliminations of some process functions. The more you implement robotics and automation, that will in part substitute processes that humans are doing today. However, I do think that probably what will happen is we will then see a significant increase in productivity and efficiency.
BM: How big a profitability driver will that be?
AL: This productivity will help drive profitability or absorb any additional costs that you have, in terms of further technological development or regulatory developments. It will be reinvested in other ways, either to enhance the franchise or deal with further regulation.
BM: How does a bank, like UBS with tens of thousands of employees, interact with a fintech startup of just a few people? What kind of cultural changes need to happen
AL: Dealing with fintechs is a cultural shift that needs to take place and you want to have the local people to innovate. At UBS we have a systematic process on how we expose ourselves to fintech companies. For example, we have a series of initiatives that we’re driving, such as our Future of Finance Challenge. This competition, which is happening at the moment, provides a forum for start-ups and growing companies to come and present their ideas to compete for support from UBS to accelerate their ideas. That’s the type of work we’re doing. We really want to take advantage of some of those fast-moving and smaller boats with great ideas and great software that we can scale up and use in our organisation.
Jacoline Loewen and team for fintech challenge
BM: Is competition for those boats fierce? How do you make sure you invest enough time and money?
AL: UBS has a CHF2.1 billion net saving target, but nevertheless our IT spend is at a record level of more than 10% of revenues. We do not sacrifice mid-term and longer term development to make numbers for a quarter. Secondly, if you look to our overall positioning it is quite unique, and that gives me confidence. We’re the global leader in wealth management, which is one of the key areas to invest in digital. Every dollar we invest there, hopefully wisely, is helping us strengthen that franchise.
Read the rest of the article here.
Join me on Twitter @jacolineloewen