Financial technology, or fintech, is nothing new. For decades, financial professionals have become progressively reliant on advances in software and other technologies to streamline our workflows and provide a greater variety of services more securely, more accurately and in less time.
Throughout the long history of fintech, uncertainty has been a common theme. We can look way, way back to the 1600s when the adding machine was first introduced, but financial technologies really started taking off in the early 1900s with the 1918 launch of Fedwire – the first electronic fund transfer system that operated on Morse code. Credit cards came along in the 1950s, electronic calculators in the ‘60s, microprocessors in the ‘70s, personal computers in the ‘80s, and the birth of the internet and first web browser in the 1990s. Once personal computers and the internet became widely used, financial technologies had the platform needed to increase efficiencies in nearly every industry worldwide.
Computers and accounting software radically changed the accounting industry. Programs that now seem incredibly basic, like Microsoft Excel, were ground-breaking. All of a sudden, every financial professional had the ability to create a self-calculating spreadsheet. Calculators and ledgers became obsolete and accounting improved as a whole with the ability to automate the most tedious elements of the profession while reducing the potential for error at the same time.
The introduction of computers and basic accounting software changed everything, and like every major shift, there was uncertainty fels by the professionals using these tools for the first time. Were they reliable? Would their work become redundant? Would it be too complicated to learn?
As financial professionals integrated these technologies into our workflows, they have become so ingrained into everything we do that we forgot about our pre-fintech lives. Can you imagine preparing a tax return without a computer and software? What would it be like to prepare a simple balance sheet without using Excel?
Thanks to fintech – our old, forgotten friend – we no longer have to spend days manually crunching numbers, leaving us time to find new challenges and offer increased value to our clients. We now have the tools and information needed to become our client’s most trusted business advisor.
Now that we’ve learned to embrace the technologies that have made our own work more accurate, efficient, and meaningful and taken on the role of strategic business advisor, shouldn’t one of the most strategic pieces of advice we can offer our clients be to embrace the fintech that is most relevant in their industry? These are technologies that will help businesses increase efficiency and make data-driven business decisions, while making it easier for business owners and their advisors to have productive, human interactions that are enriched with up-to-the-minute information. The age-old fear that technology will reduce the human-component of our client relationships has been proven baseless. By allowing financial professionals and their business owner clients the opportunity to collaborate and make business decisions based on accurate, up-to-date business data, financial technologies make these relationships more human, more personal, and most importantly, more impactful.
Our next post will talk about new financial technologies and how recent global events have transformed the way that businesses operate, making now the perfect time to further embrace financial technologies and integrate them across the desk to help client’s businesses survive and thrive in these wild times.