Who is your competition? A #fintech perspective

Silicon Valley and its tech companies have blurred the meaning of competition. Less than 10 years back, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bear Sterns etc were competing amongst each other, trying to outwit, out-hire and out-trade in trying to deliver the best quarterly financial results. These Companies were clearly amongst the top 20-top 30 companies in the world and financial services as a sector was probably the highest weighted component on the S&P 500.

So much has changed in the world since then.

Today, Silicon Valley has starting to eat into the expensive corporate expensed lunches in a big way. Ask any bank CEO, he’s not looking at the buildings in his neighborhood, the one across the street but the Wework offices across the country in the West.

Top 8 of 10 companies today are tech Companies. Tech is becoming mainstream, with every banks vouching to embrace technology and focus on the consumer (something they had completely forgotten). Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Zelle by Wells Fargo, Vanguard Robo-Advisor, Shwab Intelligent Portfolios etc are all big initiatives in response to the changing preference for better customer experience and frustration with the constant exploitation, fees and excess charges levied on customers. Technology Adoption and increasing customer centricity is a clear indication that banks no longer think they are “Too big to fail.”

Fintech so far has had limited success outside the payments landscape but I strongly feel the existence and growing threat of fintech companies have helped banks to get their act together and focus on the customer and embrace change. I’m confident its happened in other industries too.

When i started college a little over a decade ago, Goldman Sachs was the Company everyone was eyeing for and Investment Banking was the default dream career choice (our dreams are so contextual). Today it is Google/Facebook or starting a tech company. Maybe 10 years hence it will be some company in the media space. I do not know. All I know is that the world changes so rapidly that it makes less sense to chase what is cool and more sense to chase and cultivate individual interests.

Uber recently launched its own credit card (Amazon has one too), again blurring the industry wide differences that pre-existed. So to all incumbents, who is your competition?