Staying excellent into the future

I was hugely impressed by your article We had problems with bank transfers on 30th May. Here’s what happened and how we’re fixing it for the future. I’m a software engineering management consultant, and I’m always telling my clients (sometimes banks!) to not just fix problems, but spend lots of time figuring out how to prevent them (or anything like them) happening in future. Great work!

I have a meta-suggestion, if you like.

I have often seen small and new companies behave brilliantly. They do things just like you have — implement good process, take the time to work on prevention — and they are often flexible enough to do process improvement in a ad-hoc fashion.

The problems start to come with growth. Their systems grow more rigid and entrenched. The process improvement slows and stops. Eventually, everything is codified except the means to improve the process itself. People get too busy and “efficient” to spend time on process improvement. Eventually, a small, young company comes along and eats your lunch.

I think you’re eating the dinosaur banks’ lunch right now. That’s good.

So what I want is for you to think about how you can never become like them. Do the work now to put in place the process improvement processes that will mean you never stop doing what you’re doing so well now, even if you have tens of thousands of workers.

Staying excellent into the future

The key issue I see is staying unique, better legacy banks like Barclays and NatWest are throwing huge resources into copying fintechs, with the kyc instant accounts without visiting a branch, instant notifications, budgeting, freezing cards, controls like gambling blocks, better apps in general etc

The other issue is selling out, RBS was going to buy Starling to take them out, but now NatWest are using them in partnership for Bo and Mettle.

What do you see the legacies doing that you don’t want Monzo to start doing.

Or what do you see Monzo doing that you don’t want to stop?

I would say general transparency is nice but the average person doesn’t care. It’s all about fomo.

I used to see Monzo as the best thing since sliced bread, it’s now become the norm and a bit meh, they have a niceish app, but Plus is a mess, loans are a mess, chat is a mess, savings aren’t competitive, no other products like LISAs or mortgages or anything, depositing cash is a mess, no cheque imaging, travel ATM cash is stingy, merchant categories still don’t work properly for food and fuel, forums are a mess…