Nationwide invests in tech (and general Nationwide feedback)


(Christopher) #21

I think this by far the most important point that underpins the rest, and articulates better my hunch that perhaps ‘education’ hasn’t yet caught up with these profound structural changes to society and economy. I think these changes raise questions and present challenges where there’s currently limited consensus on how best to adapt to and manage the transition.

Specifically thinking about banks, and senior management and c-level positions, they are usually filled with people coming from the best schools and best programs (!), so I think it’s not unreasonable to consider they are a product of this experience, and also the experience of the culture within the organisations of where they have worked, Max Weber’s ‘Iron Cage’ if you will - hence the shaky hypothesis on a potential learning/thought gap, with outdated models, ideas behind the curve, etc. I am realistic that it can take time for changes to ‘wash’ through the system, but

ha! sorry, I should have better articulated that it is a commonly held view, one which I hope I made clear that don’t buy in to, for the examples I gave.

I really appreciate this sentiment, but I think it verges on hyperbole. When WeWork tell me they are tech company, an analyst tells me Tesla are tech, or a stockbroker that tells me they aren’t in financial services, but a tech company, I can’t help but think of the businesses that add Blockchain to their name, because…? On the one hand it’s an easy, dare I say it lazy attempt to categorise new business paradigms, and on the other hand it feels like a cynical attempt to ride the slipstream of the Next Big Thing.

Sure, many of these businesses may be using technology to innovate or even transform a sector, but I don’t see how this necessarily makes them ‘tech’. I completely understand why a business wants to identify with the broader technology sector, given the impact on our daily lives, as well as portfolios. And I also get why they want differentiate between the incumbents, “we aren’t them”. But if Nationwide conduct a root to branch transformation, leveraging technology to reinvent financial services, are they a tech company, a fintech, or still just a building society? The amount of meetings where people ask how they can be “the Apple of”, or “more like Google in…”, and I always say the same thing. It’s about mindset, it’s about culture, rather than underlying technology, which I think ties nicely back to @Peter_G’s last bullet point.

Taken at face value, I think this is quite a dangerous position to take. What is best for business? A race to the bottom in which maximum efficiency leads to an increase in profits but also the marginalisation and exclusion of large numbers of employees and their dependants? I’d argue that’s probably not best for anyone in the long term…

As an Adam Smith capitalist, I think we need leaders courageous enough to provide meaningful leadership and policy that encourages innovation and growth in the economy whilst balancing the need for sustainable, equitable opportunities for society and citizens. That probably means better, smarter regulation, and as well as a wholesale rethink of taxation, the role of the state and the social contract.

Crumbs, massive apologies for steering this wildly off topic!


(Andre Borie) #22

Taken at face value, I think this is quite a dangerous position to take. What is best for business? A race to the bottom in which maximum efficiency leads to an increase in profits but also the marginalisation and exclusion of large numbers of employees and their dependants?

Isn’t a business supposed to maximise profit for their investors, instead of being a shelter for people who refuse to adapt to a changing job market and different skill requirements? Considering the amount of free learning material available online nowadays, I really cannot feel bad for anyone with a no longer relevant position that gets laid off.

There definitely needs to be an additional solution such as universal basic income, but that’s a discussion for another day. However, I cannot agree with the fact that we should hold back from efficiency just because of the “poor” irrelevant employees that don’t want to learn a skill that delivers actual value (I’d argue that many of those positions never delivered value in the first place, and managed to get away with it for now. But the times are changing and the market is demanding more - tough luck I guess.)