It was around 2000 B.C. when the first ‘banks’ came into existence, making loans to farmers and merchants who carried goods between cities. Over the course of four millennia, mankind has come a very long way in terms of what it expects from the finance industry.
Today, financial technology allows us to easily and securely send and receive money and commodities to and from any part of the world while sitting at our desks. With this convenience also comes complexity and the average person hardly understands the mechanisms behind even simple, everyday transactions.
One person with an intimate understanding of the financial arena has been sharing his knowledge and insight with the world through his books and blogs.
His name is Chris Skinner.
Varied Experiences Make Good Writers
An independent commentator on the financial markets and on Fintech, Chris holds a degree in Management Science and a post- grad degree in Insurance, along with a diploma in Industrial Studies. Starting his career as a Sales Manager, he has held several positions in several prestigious companies. Chris has been writing blogs for over a decade and still writes every single day. He has also written several books on topics ranging from European banking regulations to the credit crisis and even on the future of banking.
Chris started writing when he realized that he had the ability to take very complex ideas and articulate them in a conversational way. People like his books because they tackle complicated subjects like blockchain, cryptocurrencies and machine learning which are increasingly relevant to the Fintech industry and explain them in a way that people of all ages can understand.
His last three books have been particularly popular. Digital Bank, which came out in 2014 describes the challenges of creating a truly digital bank and the methods to overcome them. His second book, ValueWeb showed how Fintech firms are building the internet of value for IoT using the latest technologies of apps, APIs and analytics.
Chris’s latest book, Digital Human shows how technology can become the basis of inclusion for everyone on the planet. This book is exceptional because it also summarizes his experiences of travelling the world over the last thirty years and some of the unique discoveries into the origins of humankind that Chris has made.
Lessons that Shaped his Journey
Many of Chris Skinner’s books were not planned but instead triggered by particular interactions and incidents. Digital Bank, the first book that he wrote seriously, was conceived upon a request from a client. At that point, he had been blogging for a decade and decided to take his posts and edit them into chapters.
Since then Chris has launched a futures lab in NCR, the ATM Company in the 1990s, a network called the Global Future Forum in Unisys in the 2000s, and a large network called Shaping Tomorrow when he became independent in the 2000s.
He spends a considerable part of his time looking at the future of finance because he says that it is ‘the only thing nobody knows, but everybody is going there’. This forward-looking approach began many years ago after he gave a presentation at a conference and one of the feedback forms said, “Tell me something I don’t know.”
Chris’s current focus on the future also centers on teaching others how to make money from it.
Witnessing the Change
Chris acknowledges that the role of a banker has changed over the years, especially in the recent past. Ten years ago, all bankers talked about were regulations and risks; now, they talk about technology and speed.
Fast cycle change combined with completely trustworthy risk management is a very different role to just doing risk management and that’s the big change.
Chris advises aspiring financial experts to not accept ‘no’ for an answer and to challenge everything. He believes that ‘there are no dumb questions, just stupid answers.’
He emphasizes that to make it big in the finance industry, bankers must learn how to code as coding, or gain an understanding of it because it has become as important today as being able to speak English. This will help them focus on customer experience through digital relationships.
Enthusiasts should have a passion for the things finance represents – economic success, wealth, power – and how technology is democratizing, decentralizing, and redistributing assets. Money and Technology are at odds with each other, and today’s banker needs to understand that divide and bridge it.
Looking to the Future
From a personal perspective, Chris recently became a father for the first time and his main goal has shifted to giving his sons the best childhood anyone can have.
From a business perspective, he says that his aim is to leave a lasting mark on the financial services industry in its road to digitalization, something that can be argued he has already done.