Banker Asks Fintech, “Why Are You Being So Esoterical?”

The conundrum of technology and other musings.

Esoteric — adjective
1. Understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest
2. belonging to the select few
3. private; secret; confidential

My grandfather, whose many patented discoveries in electro-chemistry for PPG Industries, once told me that the smartest people aren’t necessarily the best teachers. Those with computer like brains tend to convey knowledge esoterically that is only understood by insiders.

Bankers that make up the “establishment” are the outsiders. I’m referring to banking execs and board members that are, quoting Stephen Foley, Jennifer Bissell, and David Oakley from their article in Financial Times, “male, stale and frail.” They are busy running big banks; not down in the IT department looking over code. Their world is very departmentalized and segmented off from the tech floor and any digital innovation occurring. It’s the classic example of the guy with the idea, waiting at the elevator to hopefully catch a ride in the same car as the CEO to pitch him some new innovation. Otherwise, the exec would hear about it.

Unfortunately for #fintech, the pitch is in code, so to speak. It is indecipherable to the Harvard Business School graduate, class of ’78. Big data analytics is like a foreign language. Bitcoin goes against the foundation, and blockchain does not compute. This leaves the fintech innovator staring at the banker’s blank eyes that say, “I have no idea what you’re trying to tell me.”

The situation described is not unexpected. Those involved with #bitcoin are still having a hard time trying to explain it; let alone the whole #blockchain deal. The developers, along with few others involved in fintech, are the esoteric ones. They attempt to explain, describe or teach the latest tech as though everyone has the key code to understand.

I read a story about a man who attained immortality. He spent hundreds of years learning all the knowledge in the world. However, new generations moved on and ways of thinking evolved to a point where this immortal man couldn’t comprehend the new knowledge. His brain became outdated and the new generation couldn’t relate anymore. This is the disconnect we are seeing in the banking industry and why the banks’ adoption of new technology is slow.

Now is the time for those who can teach to come forward and educate the laypeople about fintech. Explain it like they’re talking to a five year old. It might be hard to teach the old banker new tricks, but it will be necessary for the big banks’ survival.